The honeymoon is still underway — the iPhone 4 is extraordinary from my perspective. Apple sent an email inviting iPhone 4 owners to make a FaceTime call to one of their representatives. I placed the call at 10 am Friday morning and it was answered promptly. The rep asked if I had WiFi and then had me check a couple of settings on the phone. He asked me to hang up and he called me back via FaceTime. The phone rang and when I hit the accept button a nice young man in Austin, Texas appeared on my iPhone 4 display. The clarity was stunning. The screen is small but being relatively close to the eyes, this total stranger seemed right there in the kitchen with me. He showed me how to move the window-in-window containing me around in case it was in the way and then suggested I press the other icon which changed cameras and enabled him to see the kitchen instead of me. I took him on a tour out to the terrace and showed him a bit of Connecticut. The FaceTime “call” was a first time experience for me and when you get to try it you will be highly impressed. I can’t wait to learn of someone I know getting their iPhone 4. Maybe even one of my four children — two of which have our grandchildren. I have a hunch children and grandchildren will be the most viewed FaceTime participants. The 1969 PicturePhone had very few users — FaceTime will have tens of millions. I hope to meet #2 soon so I don’t have to call the guy at Apple again.
The most asked question to me so far has been “is it really different than the iPhone 3GS”. Answer is a categorical yes. In addition to the new industrial design and the dense cool way it feels in your hand the big difference is the Retina display. With four times the pixel count of previous iPhone models, it is truly the sharpest, most vibrant, highest-resolution screen I have ever seen. The fact that the pixel density is so high that the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels makes text amazingly crisp and images stunningly sharp. Apple calls it “resolutionary”. The 78 micrometre wide pixels — 326 pixels per inch — make text and graphics look smooth and continuous at any size. The Retina display uses technology called IPS (in-plane switching) which in practical terms means that you can hold the iPhone 4 almost any way you want and still get a brilliant picture. The display also has four times the contrast ratio of previous models, so whites are brighter, blacks are darker, and everything is more beautiful. Apple says the display glass is made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains, that it is chemically strengthened to be hard, scratch resistant, durable, and features an oil-resistant coating that helps keep the screen clean. If all that is not enough, the Retina display also includes LED backlighting and an ambient light sensor that intelligently adjusts the brightness of the screen for optimal viewing and battery life. When you lift the iPhone to your ear for a phone call, a proximity sensor immediately turns off the display to save power and prevent accidental dialing. Yes, the iPhone 4 is different than the prior models. The technology used comes from many vendors and is available to any competitor. The advantage Apple has enjoyed so far has been the way they smoothly integrate the features, hide the complexity, and execute brilliant marketing programs to maintain their lead. I am glad to see the Android phones offering strong competition that will keep Apple on it’s toes.