As with every Apple event and keynote, there is a lot of information disseminated in a short period of time. Whilst we have already covered most of the information covered in yesterday’s iPhone event (just scroll the MacStories.net homepage to see how much there was), it’s time to have a roundup of what we missed and add some more details on information that we only briefly mentioned previously.
The iPhone 4S Camera
Devin Coldewey of TechCrunch has an excellent recap of the new and improved camera featured in the iPhone 4S. If you want a really in-depth understanding of all the features of it, be sure to jump over and read his article. The key points to take away though, are that it has an 8 megapixel camera (up from 5 MP that the iPhone 4 has) and can record 1080p video (the iPhone 4 could only handle 720p). Those two specifications are clearly the headline grabbers, but arguably more important is the improved sensor from Omnivision in the camera.
Apple claims this sensor features “next-generation backside illumination” which allows 73% more light and more light on the sensor means better quality images. Apple has posted some unedited iPhone 4S photos that show how great pictures can look, and they are certainly a notch above the quality of iPhone 4 photos. When Phil Schiller spoke at the event yesterday, he made note of how the sensor was “1/3rd faster”, and as Coldewey notes, this likely refers to the speed at which images can be processed. With the combination of the powerful A5 processor, new sensor and improved GPU, the iPhone 4S could be up to a second faster than other smartphones at processing an image.
The most important part of a camera is… the photographer — but right after that is the lens. And the lens of the iPhone 4 was already pretty solid for a camera phone: F/2.8 (apparently limited to F/3) at about 30mm equivalent focal length. The new one is f/2.4, about half a stop better, which doesn’t sound like much but at this point of the aperture scale counts for a lot. It’s a pretty big increase in the total amount of light hitting the sensor.
If you’ve ever tried taking a video with the iPhone 4 when in motion, you’ll have noticed how shaky the footage can turn out to be. The iPhone 4S features real-time stabilisation, and whilst not much is known about how it works, Coldewey presumes it will be “electronic stabilisation based on live image analysis” thanks to the A5’s power. We won’t really know how well this works until people try it out for themselves, but Apple has posted a demo of the new feature.
The saga is over. The white iPhone 4 is finally launching tomorrow in 28 countries after a 10-month delay, and Apple seems to be pretty happy about it so much that they’ve decided to dedicate a special spot to the device on the company’s homepage. Well then, what’s so different about the white iPhone – you may ask. Not much: it’s white, and it’s got a different proximity sensor design, quite possibly due to the use of white paint. But besides this minor design “feature”, it’s just an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3.1 by default (you’ll have to upgrade to 4.3.2 if you buy one tomorrow) and coming with a fancy new retail box.
Italian website iSpazio, however, decided to test the white iPhone 4 [Google Translation] they managed to buy yesterday ahead of the official launch, to see whether or not the new proximity sensor works better than the one found in the black iPhone. Together with that, they ran the usual “death grip” test — with the obvious result that the iPhone seems to lose one bar, but signal isn’t compromised. Again, since the software updates Apple released last year the “death grip” hasn’t been much of a problem for anyone: though, it’s become part of the unboxing and testing tradition Apple fans rely on for each new product launch.
The demo videos are embedded below. In case you missed it, check out the first white iPhone unboxing video here.
A Chinese source has told Economic Daily News (translated by Macotakara) that Apple is abandoning the glass backing of the iPhone 4 in favor of an aluminum casing as well as ditching the external antenna design. According to the source the;
Decision to design similar to iPod touch instead of using glass is supposed that Apple seems to stop problems which are told widely damages from scratching, difficulties of painting white and weight of glass.
The source also reported that Apple is abandoning the current external antenna design that was plagued with controversy over the “death-grip” signal loss and attenuation issue. Although unclear, it seems that the translation implies that the “antenna will be designed to penetrate cellular and Wi-Fi waves via resin made Apple logo” which Apple actually does have a patent for.
Finally the source noted that Apple will include the new A5 processor in the fifth iteration of the iPhone, the same processor in the new iPad 2. As with all Apple rumors, including those regarding the iPhone 5, take them with a grain of salt. In particular when the source has a shaky record in previously predicting a 7-inch iPad by Christmas 2010.
In spite of earlier reports that suggested ratings and reviews publication Consumer Reports would give a thumbs up to the Verizon iPhone (and debates on its testing methods), this is clearly not happening. For the second time since Consumer Reports smacked the AT&T iPhone 4 in July due to signal degradation issues (and eventually confirmed they could be easily fixed with duct tape, a free bumper or a better holding of the phone), the iPhone 4 can’t be recommended.
The Verizon iPhone 4 has a problem that could cause the phone to drop calls, or be unable to place calls, in weak signal conditions, Consumer Reports engineers have found in lab tests.
The problem is similar to the one we confirmed in July with the AT&T version of Apple’s newest smart phone. It can occur when you hold either version of the phone in a specific but quite natural way in which a gap in the phone’s external casing is covered. The phone performs superbly in most other respects, and using the iPhone 4 with a case can alleviate the problem.
Consumer Reports has performed its usual set of tests to determine whether or not the iPhone 4 on Verizon could be inserted into the list of recommended products. The iPhone 4 is among Consumer Reports’ highest rated smartphones, but can’t be recommended by Consumer Reports itself. Verizon, on the other hand, is widely recognized as America’s most reliable and recommended network. The Verizon iPhone has collected very positive reviews from all around the web.
With the iPhone 4, we placed a finger in contact with the lower-left-side gap. Reception typically dropped notably within 15 seconds or so of the gap being bridged. The iPhone eventually dropped calls when touched at very low signal strength—that is, at levels of around one bar in the phone’s signal-strength meter.
For those interested, video is embedded below. For those running a Verizon iPhone: sorry it can’t be recommended, but enjoy your phone.
Amidst the excitement for the finally-announced iPhone 4 on Verizon, here come some interesting news for owners of an iPhone 4 on AT&T willing to switch to Big Red: some cases for the non-CDMA iPhone won’t fit with the new unit. The Verizon iPhone has, in fact, relocated buttons that will make it impossible for some accessories to fit in properly. Namely, the mute switch and volume buttons have been relocated to a lower position to make room for the new antenna design at the top.
Should you worry and start thinking about signing petitions online for Apple to revise its position on the buttons? Not really. While Apple’s own Bumpers may have problems to work with the slightly new design, it’s likely that Apple has already teamed up with accessory makers to provide a variety of CDMA iPhone-compatible cases at launch on February 10. Plus, many cases have a larger opening for the aforementioned buttons than necessary — meaning that even in the new “location”, the cases will be just fine.
So, the Verizon iPhone’s volume buttons and mute switch are in a different position than before. This, however, should not affect most of the cases currently on the market, and we’re sure Apple will provide CDMA-ready solution come the official launch.
According to Patently Apple, the antenna engineers at Cupertino might have figured out a better placement for 3G antennas in future iPhone and “telephonic” MacBooks: hidden behind the Apple logo.
As Patently Apple reports, while the whole Antennagate story was spreading like a virus on the Internet and general media, Apple was busy thinking about a new patent they call the “logo antenna”. Placed behind the famous logo that’s on the back of computers, iPhones and iPads, such location would allow to “gain a stronger signal without intervening metal or other conductive housing walls interfering”.
It is difficult to place antennas in small and lightweight mobile devices, and the solution detailed in this patent would imply a “conductive antenna cavity” with “vertical sidewalls and a planar rear surface or may have other suitable cavity shapes”. Technical details are provided in Patently Apple’s coverage of the patent.
To regular users, this means that Apple has been thinking about new ways to improve antenna placement in mobile devices, and they’ve been thinking about MacBooks with built-in 3G connection, too. Me? I just want a glowing Apple logo on my iPhone.
Back in July, when Steve Jobs announced the free-for-all iPhone Case Program, he said that the expiration date was set to September 30th. Apple needed more time to think about the iPhone 4 antenna issues and a possible new solution.
Now, according to Mexican website CanalMX, Telcel’s (carrier) Director of Value Added Services Marco Quatorze stated that Apple is about to released a revised iPhone 4 by the end of September.
Last night Apple removed all the antenna performance videos from apple.com/antenna. You know, the videos that showcased signal attenuation issues on other handsets such as Blackberry, Droid and Samsung devices. The videos are still available on Apple’s official Youtube channel, just folllow this link to find the videos.
People are speculating that Apple received complaints from cellphone makers and was forced to pull the videos. I don’t think so. I think that, 2 weeks after the July 16th Antenna press event, they’re just reducing attention around this “issue” and start focusing on what they do best: making great products.
Such as new iPods in 5 weeks or so.
From the creators of the banned iPhone 4 promo and antenna videos, the banned outtakes. It’s NSFW, so save this for later if you’re at the office.
I love these videos, by the way.