First iPhone 4 Impressions: Not Great but Very Good

I wouldn't call it an out-of-the-park home run but the iPhone 4 is a very nice enhancement to Apple's line. After watching Steve Jobs demo at Moscone Center in San Francisco and getting a few minutes of hands-on time with the phone, it's clear to me that Apple has once again raised the bar.

The difference between the old and new iPhones' resolutions should be apparent in material designed for the new display, like iOS 4.
James Martin/CNET

Of course we knew that the phone would have front and rear facing cameras but what I didn't expect was a slick iPhone version of iMovie that lets you shoot, edit and post video from the phone. This is no bare bones editor; it includes the "Ken Burns effect" - the transitions, titles and other editing features people are accustomed to when using Mac or PC-based editors.

This one feature could help sell the phone for anyone who wants to be able to create video from the field. Ironically, I shot iMovie at work using my flip camera (will post video later) which could be out of a job if I wind up getting the new iPhone.

Apple also showed off its video conferencing with a heart-warming video of parents talking to their kids and soldiers fighting abroad talking with loved ones back home. Only trouble is that both people would need an iPhone 4 to make this happen. You can't communicate with other devices -- not even via the web. Jobs said that Apple is making the protocols available via standards bodies so it will soon be an open standard.

Text of Apple Press Announcement
Steve Jobs Debuts iPhone 4 and iOS 4

And it's important to remember that Apple isn't the first to offer two cameras and video conferencing. It's also a feature on the Sprint / HTC Evo that went on sale on Friday.

Great looking screen

The new Retina display is indeed impressive. Jobs said that it displays 326 dots per inch which, he says, is higher than the 300 dpi which is the densest people can perceive at smart phone distances.

Indeed the display on the big monitors in the hall looked great as did the iPhone when I held it in my hand. But my question is whether that will really matter. I rarely sit around complaining about the resolution on my smart phone. I'm happy enough with the older iPhone's screen and very happy with the screen on the new Evo.

Anyone whose battery has died before sunset will appreciate the new iPhone's battery which is slightly bigger. The battery, plus Apple's use of its own more power-friendly A4 processor, should yield 40% more talk time, according to Jobs.

After spending a couple of hours listening to Jobs and playing with the iPhone 4, I'm impressed but I'm not overwhelmed. But that's the way it should be. Technology evolves and the iPhone 4 clearly marks a good step forward


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