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Apple Launches iPhone 4 with FaceTime Video Calling, Other Goodies

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SAN FRANCISCO, USA – Apple lifted the curtains on the latest version of its best-selling device to date, the iPhone, on day one of the ongoing Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2010.

The  iPhone 4, is, in Apple’s words, “the biggest leap since the original iPhone”, with a revolutionary 960×640-pixel display, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, HD video recording, and introducing FaceTime, which brings video calls to the realm of iPhones. The handset will be available in the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan on June 24th, starting in the US at  US$199 for qualified AT&T buyers on a two-year contract, followed by phased launches in other parts of the world.

Also unveiled during the event was the latest version of iPhone OS which has been rechristened iOS 4, understandingly since the platform now powers iPad, and iPod Touch in addition to iPhone. iOS 4 brings some of the most sought-after features to iPhone, including multi-tasking, folders, enhanced mail, deeper enterprise support and Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform.

At the heart of iPhone 4G is Apple’s homegrown A4 processor, the same processor that powers iPad , undoubtedly one of the the most powerful mobile processors to date. After sticking with the same design in its previous two iterations, Apple changed the design of iPhone 4, making it the slimmest smartphone at just 9.3mm.

The device is provided with an all-new stainless steel alloy rim, which Apple claims is five times stronger than standard steel. Apart from reinforcing the stability of iPhone, the steel rim doubles up as antenna for iPhone’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GSM radios. The smartphone is enclosed in aluminosilcate glass panels on front and back sides, bringing classy aesthetics to the best-selling Apple device. Apple claims that the glass panel has been chemically strengthened to be 30 times harder than plastic, more scratch resistant and more durable.

The battery is bigger than the earlier-generation and the camera sensor has been bumped up to 5 megapixels and now comes with an LED flash for illuminating both still images and videos under low-lit conditions. Further, the camera is capable of capturing stunning HD quality videos in 720p resolution, along with on-device video editing solution with iMovie app, which goes on sale in the iTunes App store for US$4.99.

The all new screen of the iPhone 4 is the most attractive feature of the latest iteration of the device from Apple. With Apple claiming this to be the highest resolution screen for a smartphone with 960×640 px resolution, brings 75% of the pixels found on the iPad. The multi-touch IPS display panel is undoubtedly leagues aheads of OLED and other display panels currently in vogue in mobile devices. Apple terms their new screen technology as Retina, which has exactly doubled the pixel count on iPhone 4G when compared with iPhone 3GS. The high resolution screen adds more meat to HD video recording/viewing along with gaming and reading activities on iPhone 4. Further with the addition of 3-axis gyroscope, iPhone 4 is taking mobile gaming to sophistication levels seen on stand-alone mobile gaming consoles.

Having overlooked a front-facing camera in its previous three iterations, Apple finally added the much requested feature in its latest update. Targeting video-calls, Apple released FaceTime technology, which brings seamless video-calling functionality to iPhones, allowing users to flip between front and back facing cameras during a video-call. The video calling feature is presently available only on Wi-Fi from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 and functionality over 3G networks is expected to be rolled out in the subsequent iOS updates.

Apple didn’t surprise with any additions to its latest version of iPhone OS apart from the rechristening to iOS 4. The only notable addition to the iOS coming in the form of CoreMotion API to allow the developers utilize six-axis motion control capabilities of the gyroscope added on the iPhone 4.

Another notable addition by Apple was the announcement of iBooks app for iPhone. The free app can sync bookmarks, highlights and notes between copies of the same book across all iOS devices (iPad, iPhone or iPod touch). With over 60,000 books available in the iBookstore and over five million book downloads in the first two months, this is one of the most popular e-book platform today. Further, iBooks allows users to read and store PDFs right in iBooks.

The keynote presented by Steve Jobs was as engaging as ever with a hint of acknowledgment on the ingenuity of the leak from Gizmodo and other Vietnemese tech blogs, which published several articles on a leaked prototype iPhone 4. While the screen technology and gyroscope was a surprise, the tech blogs had predicted most of the iPhone 4 features formally announced by Apple yesterday.

The revolutionary screen technology along with the new design is all set to further push the popularity of iPhone which is already Apple’s largest selling device to date. With the extent of market penetration and visibility the product enjoys, iPhone 4 may be expected to shatter all Apple sales records in the subsequent weeks as the device will be launched across the globe.

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By , Chief International Correspondent on Jun 8th, 2010 GMT +2

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