Apple CEO Steve Jobs says the next iPhone will have a higher-resolution screen, longer battery life and thinner design. Jobs opened Apple's annual conference for software developers Monday by revealing the new iPhone 4, which is due to be released June 24. It will cost $199 or $299, depending on the capacity.
Apple CEO Steve Job on Monday unveiled a thinner, lighter version of the iPhone that will also multitask and allow users to shoot higher quality photos and video.
The iPhone 4 will feature a 3.5-inch display with a higher-resolution screen — providing four times the number of pixels of existing iPhones. It will also have much improved contrast to provider users with a clearer and sharper screen for reading, viewing photos and video and playing games.
The iPhone 4 will be available starting June 24 in white or black with a starting price of $199 for a 16-gigabyte model or $299 for a 32GB model. AT&T will allow users with a contract that expires anytime in 2010 to upgrade to the new phone provided they extend their contract for an additional two years.
"It's going to lock in a lot of early-adopter price-sensitive customers for another two years," says Julie Ask, a mobile analyst for Forrester Research. Typically customers have to wait until their contract has expired to upgrade phones, but Ask says consumers are now upgrading handsets about every 18 months.
"The average wait isn't two years," Ask says. What's more, she adds, there's speculation that AT&T's exclusive contract with Apple may expire at some point in 2011. By allowing consumers to upgrade now, AT&T will effectively lock in existing iPhone users through mid-2012.
Thinner, With Front-Facing Camera For Video Calling
The new device is less than 10 millimeters thick (about three-eighths of an inch). The previous iPhone, released last year, was about 12 millimeters, or nearly half an inch.
The iPhone 4 also has a front-facing camera, which could be used for videoconferencing, in addition to one on the back. The camera on the back will feature a 5-megapixel sensor, 5x digital zoom, a tap-to-focus feature and an LED flash. It also will support HD video recording and will be able to integrate geolocation information as well as map, photos and music.
The iPhone's video calling feature, called FaceTime, will only be available via WiFi for the time being, Jobs said. He said Apple is in discussion with phone companies to make this feature available over their wireless networks. Callers will be able to use the camera on the back of the iPhone while on FaceTime to show a real-time image of what they're looking at to the person on the other end.
A New Operating System, Multitasking
Jobs also unveiled a new operating system called iOS 4 that will power the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. The new OS integrates a number of improvements that Apple had previously announced.
"Multitasking, [the] unified e-mail box and app folders were my most wanted features from the new OS. I liked the demo before and it looks good here, as well," wrote Kent German, senior editor of CNET in a blog post during the conference.
A Focus On Reading
Jobs announced that iBooks, an app for downloading books which debuted on the iPad, will also become available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Once they buy a book, users will be able to download it to all of their devices at no extra charge and the program will automatically sync the current page, bookmarks and any notes across all devices.
"Amazon Kindle books are available on nearly any device you can imagine -- even the devices that Apple makes. So, in that respect the Apple iBooks store is playing catch-up," says Forrester Research media analyst James McQuivey. He notes that there's still no word from Apple as to whether the app will be available for PCs.
McQuivey says the most interesting announcement was that 5 million books have been downloaded via iBooks since April.
"Amazon wants to be seen as a bookseller," he says. "They want their bookshelf to follow you wherever you go. Apple is a device seller. That's a difference in philosophy and we'll have to see how that plays out."
A New Search Engine, Developer Enthusiasm
The latest iPhone will retain Google as the default search tool, but Microsoft's Bing will also be enabled. Analysts had speculated that Bing might replace Google as the main search in the weeks leading up to the announcement.
Developers were impressed by the announcement that the new phone will have
a three-axis gyroscope. Used in tandem with the accelerometer, the feature that moves the screen horizontally or vertically in sync with how a person moves the device, developers will now be able to create richer game experiences.
With reporting by NPR's Laura Sydell and the Associated Press Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.