13:40 24 June 2010
Three years after the iPhone first hit stores, a new species has been born the iPhone 4.
Looking rather like its predecessors, except more industrial in the design and less curvy, the iPhone 4 is packed with technology advancements and new features.
With a more square shape and industrial feel, fans of the original may feel loyal to its curvier cousin. However, the slimmer lines on iPhone 4 are likely to sway even the hardiest of iPhone followers. At just 9.2mm, Apple claims this is the slimmest smartphone yet.
The glass front is now tougher, apparently using the same super-strong aluminosilicate material used for helicopter windscreens, more scratch resistant, and more durable than ever.
There's also a matching partner panel on the back for extra protection for your gadget as well as another touch of sparkle. And to keep it super shiny, the glass has an oil-resistant coating that helps keep the screen cleaner from fingerprints.
Around the middle is a sleek stainless steel band which not only looks great, but also serves as an antenna, for better coverage.
Gadget fans can also choose between a sleek black or crisp white version according to personal preference.
This is where the new features really get exciting. For the iPhone 4, Apple has developed a crystal clear Retina display, which it says is the "sharpest, most vibrant, highest-resolution phone screen ever".
It boasts four times the pixel count of previous models (at 326 pixels per inch) making text and images crisper and sharper ideal for reading books or watching videos.
There's also LED backlighting and an ambient light sensor that intelligently adjusts the brightness of the screen for optimal viewing and battery life. When you put it to your ear for a call, a proximity sensor turns off the display to save power and prevent accidental dialling.
Other than browsing the web, viewing images and videos, the screen advancements show no better than on the electronic books app, rendering the pages from Apples own ebook reader iBooks with clarity and precision that possibly exceeds even its other latest development, the iPad.
- Double vision
Upgrading from the disappointing singular no-flash camera on the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 4 not only has a built-in flash for the 5MP camera but there's also a second camera on the front.
There's an autofocus, or users can simply touch the screen of the image they are taking to focus on a specific element in the frame (as on the 3GS).
As well as be capable of taking some great shots in lowlight conditions, the iPhone 4 can capture high-definition 720p video at 30 frames per second with the ability to edit clips using the phone in iMovie.
The Three network attempted several times to start the revolution of video calling and was successful to a point. But with the existing following for Apple, its "cool" standing and supreme technology the iPhone 4 may just be the one to take society into the next generation.
To pair with the dual camera s and video capabilities, Apple has created its video conferencing technology called FaceTime. The free app uses front-facing VGA camera to make video calls to other iPhone 4 users over a Wi-Fi network. While this means it's free and ensures decent video quality, it does, however, limits its availability.
Whether starting with a FaceTime call or switching to video midway through a conversation, it is easy to use at the touch of a button. The picture's clear, while its dual microphones and noise-cancelling capabilities ensure good audio that remains in sync with the video.
- Brotherly advice
The iPhone 4 has also adopted many of the innovations launched with the iPad, not least the ability to multitask between more than one app at a time ideal for hardened social network users.
All these advancements also run on the same A4 processor used in the iPad, to ensure a fast and intuitive operating experience.
One of the main criticisms with its predecessors was the limited battery life. However, Apple has increased the battery size, which claims to have 40 hours audio time or 7 hours 3G talk time.
With all these improvements and innovations, and Apple's previous pricing history, the iPhone 4 was never likely to be cheap. It is the first iPhone to be available on all networks from launch and so there are competitive deals, however, it's bound to put a dent in your pocket.
The iPhone 4 is available on a SIM-free basis £499 (16GB) and £599 (32GB), using a dedicated micro-SIM, you then can choose your operator and can change with the necessary notice (usually 30 days).
Alternatively there are a whole host of contract options from the key networks with varying contract lengths for a cheaper initial outlay but meaning you're tied to that network for the contracted time.
Briefly: a 16GB iPhone 4 on an 18-month £35/month contract costs £169 on Vodafone (300 mins, unlimited texts, 1GB data), £179 on O2 (300 mins, unlimited texts, 500MB data), £229 on Orange (600 mins, 500 texts, 750MB data), £99 on Three (900 mins, 5000 texts, 5000 Three-to-Three mins, 1GB data) or £169 (2000 mins, 5000 texts, 5000 Three-to-Three mins, 1GB data. Tesco Mobile offer the phone on a shorter 12-month contract for £229 (750 mins, unlimited text, 1GB data).
View the full price guide for the iPhone 4
Apple has worked hard to combat other manufacturers who've been nipping at its heels, with many phones offering downloadable apps, social networking and music player functionality as standard. It has also had to outdo close contenders such as Google's Android.
However, the iPhone 4 has gone above and beyond, fixing many of its previous flaws while adding tons of extras.
Any gadget nut is bound to already have one on pre-order. But if you can afford one, or haven't yet embraced the world of Apple since the iPod Touch and iPhone launched, you surely won't be disappointed with this little beauty.
Having said that, there's sure to be another new and improved version before long but that's the world of technology and gadgetry!
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