Wake me up when you’ve got multi-tasking… wait, the iPhone 4 has it!

June 8th, 2010 | by Alfred Siew

People sometimes slate Apple fanboys for living in a world of their world, not knowing and not wanting to know what’s going on outside of what Apple leader Steve Jobs tells them every year at one of his flashy presentations.

Well, the best proof of that during the iPhone 4 launch today, which you will not escape from reading on Facebook or news blogs because of the sheer amount of hype, is this funny launch video from Apple itself.

In it, an Apple marketing man goes through a list of achievements of previous iPhones, which are all legit. He then says that “for 2010, the iPhone 4 is the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone… and we’re bringing video calling to the world!”

Not sure which parallel universe he’s been on, but the rest of the world have been using video calls for years. And get this, Apple’s version works on Wi-Fi only (for now) and has been demo’d only for iPhone-to-iPhone calls!

The same criticism can be levelled at almost all the “new” features that Steve Jobs rolled out yesterday night (Singapore time)  at its much-hyped WWDC conference (Worldwide Developer Conference) in San Francisco.

Other than a high-res screen and an improved, slimmer design, the iPhone 4’s “new” features are nearly all  “me-too” ones that rivals have had for months now.The biggest deal is the 3.5-inch screen which 960-by-640 pixels cramped in it, giving it a really ultra-sharp display that rivals will find hard to match (for now). I’d like to compare this with the ultra-bright Super AMOLED screen that Samsung is using on its Galaxy S, which to my eyes, has been the best screen on a phone thus far.

The second big deal about the iPhone 4 is its improved design. It’s less than 1cm thick (0.93cm), so it’s incredibly thin, like a small card that you can slip into a pocket easily.

But then, what about the other “new” features? They are disappointing, to say the least. Video calls? Multi-tasking? 5-meg camera with flash? It’s all old news if you’ve had an Android phone for the past year or more.

And what of Apple’s A4 processor? So far, no side-by-side comparison. But do check out how the Nexus One’s Snapdragon processor trashes the iPad’s A4 chip in a side-by-side comparison on HTML5 rendering.

It’s clear the iPhone 4 barely breaks any new ground. You will hear Apple fanboys banging on about the “new” features, because their only frame of reference, like Apple’s marketing folks, is with the long-in-the-tooth iPhone 3GS.

No doubt, the hype surrounding the iPhone and the goodwill with previous iPhones will get lots of iPhone users to stay with Apple. But it will likely not slow down the Android push in the coming months.

For developers, for techies, for folks who know a bit about cutting through the endless media hype you will no doubt read and hear about in the coming days, the iPhone 4 is just far from cutting edge.

From an innovator with the iPhone, Apple has become a follower, bringing in features that others have had for months. And the latest iPhone still doesn’t do Flash, which, contrary to Steve Jobs, runs perfectly fine on new Android phones to display all the multimedia on websites.

You get a sense that some people inside Apple know this too, when the company puts on a brave face and says the iPhone 4 “changes everything again”. After all, the killer app, says Steve Jobs to applause from his followers, is “making calls”!


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