iPhone 4 is evolution over revolution

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Let’s start with the good news - the new iPhone 4 looks pretty gorgeous, and looks like it’s beautifully put together from superior materials and components. It has the iPad’s fast A4 processor, although this is probably being underclocked on the iPhone to save on battery life. Also, the phone has a much improved OS (iOS 4) and around 100 or so new features. That said, a lot of the ’New Features’ showcased are Apple simply catching up with much of the current technology that other companies had already premiered some time ago. What’s worse, is that this box of tricks is still strictly un-upgradeable and serviceable in the true sense, as its predecessors also were. You cannot slot in any standard peripherals (bar headphones) or extended memory cards or even change the battery. Anyway, let’s see what’s Cool, and what’s Steve Jobs Hype:



What’s Great about the new iPhone:

  • Breathtaking High Res ’Retina’ Display - high pixel density with 326 pixels per inch (960 x 640 Resolution)
  • New scratch, scuff and knock resistant super-toughened glass, similar to sapphire glass found on watches, featuring on front and back of phone
  • Superb Manufacture and Materials, the specially manufactured toughened laminated glass, antennae integrated into superbly organised and ingenious casing - aerospace quality fit and finish
  • Battery Life extended by up to 40%
  • ’FaceTime’ Video Calling with front and back camera switching
  • ’Multitasking’ at last!?!
  • iOS 4 iMovies allows HD Video Recording and Editing on the fly
  • 5 Megapixel Camera with LED Flash
  • Three-Axis Gyroscope brings amazing new control parameters to games and augmented reality
  • iPhone 4 has new iBooks store premiered on iPad
  • iPhone 4 has new Dynamic iAds advertising platform!?!


What’s not so great about the new iPhone:

  • Does not support Flash (hence needs lots of additional Apps to replace content / functionality that is otherwise rendered natively by Flash on the ’Internet’)
  • Still only has max 32GB memory, other devices take changeable SD Cards which are already at 64GB and have a maximum potenital of 2TB
  • The basic Interface has hardly changed at all (Folders! Changeable Wallpapers! Multitasking Ribbon!) - there are no dynamic active feeds or active social components or active notifications on home pages, all ’Apps’ and functions are accessed linearly / sequentially; very little true customisation available compared to Android
  • ’FaceTime’ video calling can only be made from one iPhone 4 to another iPhone 4 and over WiFi only; regardless of Apple’s claims that they will open this up to everyone, so far only a single phone will be able to use this standard; Skype has though recently announced its interest in working with said standard!
  • Lots of functionality only works over WiFi, not 3G; some degree of syncing should really be enabled over WiFi, but, at the moment only cabled syncing works
  • Android phones like the Nexus One can be used as Mobile WiFi hubs, the iPhone 4 cannot
  • iPhone multitasking is largely just ’suspended animation’ which is not really proper multitasking at all, it does save on battery life though!
  • Several other devices allow you to feed photos and video direct to the Internet from the phone - Apple iPhone does not
  • Phone lacks standard connectors, only has unique 30 pin connector, no Micro USB, and no HDMI Out
  • Current state of resolution for Cameraphones is 8-12 Megapixels vs iPhone 4’s 5 Megapixels
  • iBooks are often more expensive than their paper counterparts
  • Apple is really trying to totally monopolise the advertising space on its closed iAds platform - HTML 5 is still miles off Flash-level dynamic functionality
  • Apple’s restrictive application / developer terms are going to open it up to multiple anti-competitive law suits a la Microsoft in the 90’s


The iPhone 4 launches on June 24th in 5 Countries - US, France, Germany, UK and Japan, with pre-orders starting from the 15th of the month. By the end of the year, the iPhone 4 will be rolled out to 88 countries (that’s probably as many as can afford it). Gizmodo of course broke the scoop on the phone a few months ago, and there was a rumour of 64GBs or more of memory. There were of course a whole load of rumours, and the vast majority of what was estimated to appear has appeared. But is Apple’s ’This Changes Everything. Again’ slogan / claim justified? Not at all really. The first iPhone was truly revolutionary, the latest one is simply the newest one right now, and is only just ahead of the rest of the pack, will this still be the same at the end of the year?


Hardware pricing as part of a 2 year service contract with AT&T (US) is $199 for 16GB version and $299 for 32GB version; also preferential rates are offered for customers with 6 months or so remaining on existing contracts, prices and deals yet to be revealed for other countries.

 

Apple still has one major advantage over everyone else - the world’s best App store, with the best mobile phone apps. This is largely to do with the fact that Apple Mobile Devices cannot access lots of Flash and Java -based websites which offer up same or similar functionality. The universal Internet has to be the ideal solution, and that solution includes Flash and Java. Android users with the latest version of that software can access the whole of the Internet, whilst Apple Mobile Devices can only access part. It looks more and more like becoming a battle between Apple and Google, Apps vs the Internet. I firmly believe that the Internet will win through in the end - it has more choice, and more developers overall - and more of it is freely accessible.


Apple can currently be said to lead on Hardware (just marginally over HTC) and on Mobile Applications, especially games and media apps. But Apple is just one manufacturer, up against dozens if not hundreds, and Google is a huge chunk of the Internet. I see more and more competitive devices coming through to challenge the iPhone 4, and currently I am not liking Apple’s stance on shutting out Google and Adobe and the existing advertising Internet advertising industry at large.

 

If you have money to burn, or are eligible for a favourable upgrade price, I still believe the iPhone 4 is a great phone, and just edges out HTC’s Evo / H2 as the best Smart Phone of the moment. In a few months though, I don’t necessarily see this to be the case. The Google TV platform will be out and at large, along with a couple of other new media platforms, and there will be further upgrades to Android, Windows 7 and their corresponding hardware platforms.

 

So, as with the iPad I would encourage people to wait and see what’s around the corner. As for me - if I get a good deal from O2, I will most likely upgrade my phone to iPhone 4, as I really do love my current 3GS, and think I would really love the new iPhone. Longer term though, I still believe Android and one of the forthcoming phones on that platform will be the best solution for most users ... Apple has a knack of simplifying things and polishing them up to look marvellous. But under that gloss, there is always a short-cut or two which limits the wider appeal of the that platform ...

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