"Now, stop me if you've already seen this."
With those words, Lord Steve Jobs himself introduced Apple's iPhone 4, the source of much intrigue and legal wrangling since a prototype landed on a barstool in April.
Touted as the thinnest smartphone ever, Jobs broke down myriad new features and design highlights. Comparing the look and feel to a Leica camera, he said the iPhone 4 is built with stainless steel for strength and is sandwiched with glass on front and back. The phone has an integrated antenna built into the structure.
Jobs also pointed to the phones highly revamped optical quality, promising 326 pixels per inch on the high definition display.
"This is a biggie," said Jobs. "Something we call the Retina Display. What's that? In any display, there are pixels - here's four of them. We start off by dramatically increasing the pixel density, 4x in the same amount of space."
Of course, the announcement many frustrated iPhone users had hoped for - an abandonment of AT&T as the exclusive carrier, was not made. This became particularly point when Jobs tried to demonstrate Web surfing capabilities, but ran into network areas. Asking an on-stage tech if he had any ideas, an audience member's one-word response came as biting criticism: "Verizon!".
Job also said the battery has been made bigger by switching to a micro SIM card, claiming: "7 hours 3G talk, 6 hours 3G browsing, 10 hours WiFi browsing, 10 hours music, 40 hours of music, and 300 hours of standby."
Still the latest iPhone blows away the iPhone 3GS specs:
"3.5-inches, but 4x more pixels than the iPhone 3GS. 326px per inch. 800:1 contrast ratio, 4x that of iPhone 3GS. Provides much more accurate color and much higher resolution. You can't make an OLED display with this resolution, we think it's quite superior," said Jobs.
The iPhone 4 also sports a completely revamped camera system, boosted to 5 megapixels, but promising the same, relatively larger pixel sensors in order to capture more subject detail.
The new camera system also captures full 720p HD video at 30 fps. An LED flash, new to the phone, will stay on for video illumination. And what to do with that video? iMovie for iPhone was also announced.
Among other highlights are a front-facing camera and a gyroscope, particularly useful in conjunction with the accelerometer, for 6-axis motion gaming.
A demonstration showed a full HD video edited, with imported iTunes music, visual effects and transitions completely on the iPhone 4 and exportable at 360p or 720p.
After more networking issues - Jobs actually asked a crowd of nerds to stop liveblogging and put down their laptops for the demo to continue - the latest iPhone OS, christened iOS4 was introduced.
iPhone bashers have long latched onto its inability to multitask and relatively weak mail client. They may have met their match.
Jobs rolled out multitasking for the iPhone 4.
"Some people were saying you weren't first with multitasking - the same was true with cut-copy-paste. But we took some time to figure out how to do it right."
He also touted a host of new features in the new OS, including folder creation, a unified inbox and threaded conversations in Mail.
In a counter-swipe at Google, which had some fun at Apple's expense during their recent developer I/O keynote, Microsoft's Bing search engine is being rolled out, as is Yahoo!. Google will remain the default search engine, but is no longer the lone option.
Apple also is introducing a version of iBooks, it's popular bookstore app on iPad, for the iPhone. iBooks will automatically sync placemarks, bookmarks and notes to all i-devices.
One More Thing
There's a reason for that front-facing camera: FaceTime, the new video calling features. After much fussing from Jobs for the audience to again turn off their WiFi devices, he made a video call to Apple design guru Jony Ive. The video call was made over a WiFi network, but Jobs promised development is underway with cell carriers - yes, plural - for future use.
"We call this FaceTime -- video calling. It's ... it's great. It's iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 anywhere there is WiFi, and there is no setup required."
And the most important feature on the iPhone 4? Price:
Price and availability
iPhone 4 comes in two colors, black and white - price is $199 in the U.S. for the 16GB model, and 299 for the 32GB model."
Jobs says AT&T will offer that same price on eligible upgrades in 2010 - but you have to reup your contract with the heavily derided carrier for another 2 years. Though whether you get screwed on the the new AT&T data lineup plan by re-upping that contract remains to be seen.
That makes the new iPhone lineup: 3G (no more); 3GS ($99) and the iPhone 4, available June 24 in five countries.