WWDC: Everything You Need to Know About iPhone 4

UPDATED: When guessing the name of Apple’s next iPhone model, folks who figured “iPhone 4G” got it half right — the new handset is the iPhone 4 and it just debuted at the Apple WWDC in San Francisco. The 9.3mm thick handset looks nearly identical to the test phone left behind at a bar and later purchased by Gizmodo, but now we have all the specifications:

  • 24 percent thinner than the iPhone 3GS
  • Front-facing camera in addition to rear 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and 5x digital zoom, support for 720p video recording at 30 fps.
  • Two microphones for noise suppression
  • Stainless steel frame with radio antennas integrated into the structure of the phone
  • A 960×640 high resolution display with 326 pixels per inch — roughly double the pixel count of the current iPhone and more like printed text
  • Up to 32GB of storage, 802.11 n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a three-axis gyro
  • Support for quad-band HSPA, or 7.2 Mbps down and 5.8 Mbps up
  • 7 hours of talk time, 6 hours of 3G browsing or 10 hours on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video, 40 hours of music and 300 hours of standby

CEO Steve Jobs himself demonstrated the difference between the current iPhone 3GS display and the New Retina display of the iPhone 4. This technology appears to be the biggest improvement over the prior model device as text is noticeably crisper while pictures are far more detailed.

Helping out the visuals of the Retina Display is an 800:1 contrast ratio — four times greater than the prior model’s display — and the use of IPS or In Plane Switching technology for a wide-angle viewing, just like the iPad and Apple displays. The new iPhone 4 is powered by Apple’s custom A4 chip, first used in the iPad, and like its big brother, uses a microSIM card.

With the new higher-quality camera, Apple is also offering a way to edit video on the phone with iMovie for iPhone, priced at $4.99. Based on the demonstration provided, the software appears to be more polished than the prior editing method and uses the full iPhone display for movie edits — gone is the trim timeline from the currently meager editing functionality of the 3GS. Still photos can be added to iPhone movies as can transitions and music tracks from the iTunes library on the handset.

The new iPhone 4 will run the already announced iPhone OS 4, but the platform gets a rename — as of today, it’s iOS 4, which makes sense, since the non-phone iPad runs the same mobile operating system. (Related: Apple’s iPhone OS 4: What You Need to Know) As expected, the most prominent features are multitasking, folders, customized home screens and a unified Inbox for email.

Google will remain the default search engine in iOS 4, but Microsoft’s Bing is now an available option. A new software addition is the iBooks for iPhone application, which should help sell even more books (Apple has already sold 5 million.) iBooks will sync a reader’s place between the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, as well their bookmarks and notes, much as Amazon does with its Kindle platform. And when paired with the Retina Display, iBooks looks stellar for handheld reading — Apple is sure to sell even more titles as a result.

With all the new features, Apple continues to entice developers; it expects to this month sell its 100 millionth iOS device, which includes sales of iPads, iPods and iPhones. I will update the post as more details on iPhone 4 are revealed.

Update: Apple waited until the end, but finally demonstrated what the front-facing camera is for — video calling with FaceTime, which works over Wi-Fi only. Additionally, Apple shared pricing and availability for the new iPhone 4, which goes on sale June 24th. The 16 GB version is $199 with contract while the 32 GB model is $299 in the U.S. Pre-orders begin on June 15 and Apple expects iPhone 4 availability in 88 countries by September.

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