The iPhone 4: The Good And The Meh

Lo and behold, a man in a black mock-turtleneck did in fact announce the next iPhone earlier today from an aluminum unibody throne virtually rendered into 3D form at Apple’s WWDC 2010. Like ludicrously profitable clockwork, Apple “re-reveals” (as Gizmodo so snarktastically put it– needless to say they were not invited to the convention) the iPhone 4. The decision to christen it, simply, the iPhone 4 is a wise one in my book. It won’t offer a 4G network like the HTC Evo on Sprint, so 4G would be a misnomer, and iPhone HD just sounded kind of off to me. So what’s to love? What’s to ‘meh’ over? How does it break down?

IPHONE 4 BASICS:

+ On sale June 24th. Pre-orders begin June 15.

+ $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB

+ White and Black color options available, seemingly for both the 16GB and the 32GB varieties

+ Front and back facing cameras, HD video recording and editing, the iPad’s processor, new shiny slab-style design

+ Full tech specs from Apple

THE GOOD:

+ A feature they’re calling the ‘retina’ display features a 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi. “Retina” is their obnoxious way of making their upped pixel count sound like a standalone feature. Which it kind of is. Word on the street is that the screen is gorgeous and competes with the sexiest AMOLED screens out there. It’s the highest resolution on a phone to date.

+ The design. I love it. I love the more rugged, all glass look. The back of the phone is so sexy I kind of need to eat it. Just flat, gorgeous glass. Love it. It’s far more mature and impressive looking, I think.

+ At .37″, the iPhone 4 is a damned thin phone. This is cool and shaves a little weight off. It looks so sturdy, it seems strange it’d be that thin. But hey, now you can buy two an stick ‘em in your pockets together.

+ Black and white options for both models is a plus in my book. Were I to get one, I might mix it up with the white. It’s striking in a different way. It looks airy and clean. Just add birch wood and you’ve basically got the Apple store.

+ A gyroscope. We’ll have to see how game devs incorporate this. Sounds like it’ll allow for more rotational recognition in gaming, kinda upping the accelerometer ante. It could be cool. We’ll see.

THE MEH:

+ Okay, the “Retina” feature is cool and all, and I am a self-admitted pixel junkie, but with a 3.5″ screen, I’m just not sure how much I care. I’m clearly getting off on my current 4.3″ display, and I think I’d care if the screen were bigger. Just seems like diminishing returns, cramming so many wonderful little pixels into a screen size that can’t show them off with a little breathing room.

+ “FaceTime,” Apple’s new iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 video chat software. It’ll be sleek and effortless, since it’s built in, and that’s cool. But it’s only over wifi, not 3G, and I just don’t really know when I’d use it. That’s probably just my personal mobile video chat apathy at work, but yeah. If I have wifi, I’d probably rather just video chat on my laptop. Even with 3G support (like the Evo features) I just don’t think I’d use it.

+ iPhone “Bumpers.” I’m still not sure if I think these are absolutely stupid or kind of cute. Just…unsure.

+ iPhone “iOS,” the newly-renamed next-gen iPhone OS. We’ve been over the changes, but feel free to refresh your memory. I just feel like bragging extensively about your amazing battery life while keeping features like the true multitasking (like offered by the Android OS) out of consumers’ hands is more than a little disingenuous. Enter the ultra spin-zone.

+ Jobs’ schmoozy iPhone 4 promo-pullquote of the day: “This changes everything. Again.” I find that a little hard to swallow. Nothing was terribly exciting here, in my opinion. Maybe Gizmodo just took the wind out of the iPhone 4’s sails, but beyond the reinvented design and improved speed, there’s nothing too thrilling to get worked up over.

But if I hadn’t seen the design before, I might have had a harder time steeling myself against the irrational part of me that wanted to stick with the iPhone. But then again, the design is just right up my alley. Shiny glass, slab-shaped monolith: yes please. Good thing I have one. I guess the press conference just seemed like Jobs was playing up fairly standard high-end smartphone features by marveling over them and insisting on naming them dramatically, like the “Retina” display. But hey, what’s a press event for? I’m not sure. That, I guess.

THE LYNCH:

“It was like cluster-bombs going off in my pants.”

Hey! Jane Lynch popped up in an Apple spoof video, just for our saucy viewing pleasure! And it is saucy.

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Back in the day, Taylor Hatmaker was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle's tech sister site, Technostraddle, may it rest in peace. Now, Taylor writes about technology for ReadWrite.com and Entrepreneur Magazine. For Autostraddle, she writes essays, takes pictures of things and draws comics too, if you ask real nice.

taylor has written 109 articles for us.

23 Comments

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    Uh.. Ive had the iPhone and I love it.. and Ive had the Droid and I love it.. Sure Sprint sucks sometimes but NOT AS MUCH AS AT&T.. I love my EVO and I am not having second thoughts.. nor regrets.. Whats the use of having a high res when its on a dinky screen! MAJOR FAIL..

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      The higher res makes small text much crisper. It makes a huge difference in readability, even when the overall screen size remains small.

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    #epicfail This may be worse than the damn furby fail. I was so looking forward to the new iPhone being on the verizon network, but nooo. Now I leave you all with a question: Switch to AT&T or get the HTC? Help, please?

    On a positive note, it looks really pretty.

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      AT&T moving up everyone’s eligibility window so they can upgrade to the iPhone 4 now rather than later is a big hint that exclusivity is ending soon, because they’re trying to lock people in. Based on rumors I’ve read, I expect iPhone for Verizon is coming this fall.

      If you want an Android phone, for Verizon the way to go is the HTC Incredible. For Sprint, it’s the Evo, with these two caveats: Make sure where you live actually has 4G coverage, not all areas do. And the Evo is powerful but the tradeoff is battery life is pretty poor, so if it’s not convenient for you to charge your phone a lot (maybe at home and also at work/school, maybe more than once a day), then the Evo may not be for you.

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    Well… I think I’m happy to stick with my humble 16GB 3rd gen. Sure the 4 gen looks cool (and I’m a sucker for a good looking gadget) there are none of the features that make me want to run to the shops and buy one RIGHT NOW. Besides the fact I’m tied into a 75 year contract (warning: possible exaggeration) so by the time I’m out of that they’ll be on the iphone 42 gen, so I’ll probably want one of those badboys.

    Did make me laugh when Steve Jobs ran the demo of the iphone 4 and struggled to get a wifi connection… never work with kids, animals or temporamental technology.

    Luckily we don’t have to battle with AT&T here in the UK and bit by bit, the major networks are getting their hands on a bit of the iphone pie and fighting to make cheaper tarrifs = CHEAP iphone! Yay!

    Thanks Taylor for a rundown on the pros and cons. For now I’m sticking with my old one, but at least I can sound cool down the pub rattling off all the new features nonchalantly – “Yeah sure it’s 960 by 640 but you know I can see just fine on my… what’s that? Oh, yeah, mine’s a pint thanks.”

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      “Well… I think I’m happy to stick with my humble 16GB 3rd gen. Sure the 4 gen looks cool (and I’m a sucker for a good looking gadget) there are none of the features that make me want to run to the shops and buy one RIGHT NOW”

      my thoughts exactly.it’s just much better looking, no substantial innovations. And NO 64 GB version!!! That was terrible for me to hear.

      Will stick to my 2-year old 3G for a while longer.

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    Just some extra facts: The iOS4 update is available free to all iPod touch, iPhone 3G, and 3GS users and will be released on June 21st. Not all functions will work on older models but I think that’s pretty awesome.

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    Taylor your tech articles are amazing, I’m drooling for the HTC Evo!

    I’m with Verizon so I’m considering the Incredible… the salesmen I talked to said I’d “be happy if I waited ’til July” but wouldn’t tell me what he meant. I told him I wasn’t an Apple person so I’m not looking for an iPhone, but he said that wasn’t it.

    Curious what he’s talking about, or if he’s just talking out his ass.

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    so glad i just spent a lot of money on saturday to fix the shattered screen on my iphone 3gs (*sarcasm*). maybe this is karma telling me i need to stay away from the iphone 4. are bumpers supposed to be like training wheels for accident-prone adults? i’d put money down on the probability that i’d inadvertently shatter this one too, bumpers or no bumpers. i feel like steve jobs has taken hold of my soul (wishing it was lynch instead)…nevertheless, still want.

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    Taylor, I’ve only read two of your articles, but I must say, “I think I’m in love.”

    Oh yeah, and I love my big bad Evo too! Maybe we can show your old boyfriend Stevie Jobbie how to video chat. ;-)

    keep up the great work!

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    Re:FaceTime: I know more people with iphones than with macs (i’m slowly converting them all of Course!) and I dare say the iphone to imac/macbook users ratio is low. So FaceTime is enticing to me in that way.

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    Apple should have offered a bigger screen as well as the 3.5. Who cares if you have hi-res on a 3.5 screen? With all the new media like Netflix, iMovie etc, why would you want to enjoy that on a 3.5? It’s just stupid. I like Apple stuff, but it’s just stupid. (Did I mention it’s stupid?)

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