Superslim iPhone 4 enough to fend off Android?
Impressive new display, but no game changers
Opinion Apple CEO Steve Jobs duly stood up at the company's World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco this week to introduce the long-awaited iPhone 4.
This has become almost as much of a June tradition as Wimbledon tennis, but there was a clear difference this time around. To a far greater extent than on the previous three occasions, Apple faces some real challenges in the smartphone world, and it was not clear that the neat hardware and multimedia enhancements in iPhone 4 would be enough to meet them.
As Microsoft well knows, a product is most vulnerable when it becomes a sacred cow, so dominant that nobody dares rethink it. Although Jobs boasted of the "biggest leap" since the original iPhone, and of about 100 new features, the new gadget delivered nothing really game changing. No CDMA version or LTE roadmap, no real tinkering with the famous user experience. With HTC's top end phones breaking records in several markets and Android making steady progress, Apple may need to do more to hold onto its crown.
To be fair, for most handset makers the changes Apple did make would have been eye catching, and it may have been right to focus the enhancements on hardware design, where the iPhone often lags behind rivals as it does not in user experience. In particular, the unimpressive camera system has been overhauled and the new model is ultraslim, at just 9.3mm thick.
The most impressive new feature is a very high resolution display, at 326 pixels per inch. Apple has set itself up against the main trend in advanced smartphones, AMOLED screens. It claims its new Retina Display is "superior" to OLED, with Jobs employing his usual hyperbole. "There has never been a display like this on a phone," he said. iPhone 4 will pack four times more pixels into its 3.5-inch touchscreen than the 3GS, with a 800:1 contrast ratio.
Jobs said there were over 100 new features, many of them already well known to the blogs, and he focused on eight of the most significant. The first was the slimness - the latest iPhone is 24 per cent thinner than its predecessor, and Jobs claimed it would be the "thinnest smartphone on the planet".
Some of the enhancements were catch-ups, notably on the camera front, where the iPhone family always under-delivers. Now, at least, the handset has a front-facing camera - present on most smartphones for video calls - and LED flash. In fact, it has a whole new camera system, though this still only achieves the five megapixels that is average for smartphones - better than the 3GS model's three, but nowhere close to the 12 achieved by Sony Ericsson, Samsung and soon Nokia, or the eight of Motorola's latest Android device, Droid Shadow/Milestone XT720.
More innovative was a stainless steel band around the new handset, which forms part of the antenna system. "Stainless steel for strength. Glass on the front and back. Integrated antennas, and extraordinary build quality," was Jobs' boast.
"Stainless steel for strength. Glass on the front and back. Integrated antennas, and extraordinary build quality," was Jobs' boast.
He then went on to add "People have literally died bring this product to market"...
megapixels - dead horse
Can we please stop harping on the "low megapixels" thing? Everyone who's been in tech for at least 10 years knows that the megapixel race is well and truly bogus, and higher pixels actually result in WORSE picture quality. Jobs even addressed this in the keynote by describing how they made the pixels bigger to help maintain image quality.
It's now only left up to the Press (you guys) to stop perpetuating this myth, even when you do it only in a list of bullet points to try to make the list look more impressive.
I agree, I think Apple are going to have a hard time fending off Android based handsets - there are multiple manufacturers of it, so the installed base should increase very quickly, and that will drawn the App developers. Also, multiple manufacturers means, hopefully, faster development of the OS itself, meaning Apple will need to really pull out the stops just to keep up.
The piece where it says "Opinion" rather than "Review" then?
The hardware of that thing is not at all bad, I think. And the "only 5MP" is really tiring. It has a rather large sensor and lens, a backside illuminated sensor (which is a first in a smartphone as far as I know, not that any "tech journalist" would care) and seems to take quite good macro shots. Any smartphone maker putting such effort into the camera while giving up on the MP race has to be lauded. Everybody knows that piling megapixel on megapixel is a bad thing but obviously nobody has the balls to be the first to do something about it.
The gyroscope is also something noone else thought of yet. The screen has not only high DPI, it has the touchscreen laminated to the LCD, which should help to minimize parallax problems and make it tougher. The battery seems to be really good, the design surely isn't shabby. 9.3mm is, well, good. No, the hardware is really fine.
iOS starts to suck, though. When it comes to wireless syncing and file management and the like the OS is user-unfriendly in a way that is outright un-Apple. Things like "openness" are irrelevant here, the masses don't care, only geeks care.
And can Apple fend off Android? Why, no. Never. One company with one or two devices can't fend off uncounted companies offering hundreds of phones and tablets with an OS they get for free. There are lower prices there and more options. Even *expecting* Apple to hold a majority of the market is madness. In fact, if they manage to keep a third of the market or so they will do really, really great. One could even say that the iPhone holds up that good today is either a miracle or most Android phones aren't really that good compared to the iPhone. Which Android smartphone exactly is selling bettter than the iPhone or even close?
In the smartphone market Android will become what Windows was (or still is) in the PC market, there is little doubt to that. Expecting Apple to "fend off" all other Android phones together is like expecting Apple selling more Macs than all others selling PCs.