Apple has unveiled the latest version of its smartphone, the iPhone 4, and UK operators are lined up to release the device on 24 June.
The iPhone 4 was shown off on Monday by Apple chief Steve Jobs at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2010. Orange, Vodafone and O2 will carry the handset in the UK, although local pricing has not yet been announced. In the US, the device's cost will start from $199 (£138) on a two-year contract.
The device has what Apple calls a 'retina display', which at 960x640 pixels is the highest-resolution touchscreen yet to be used in a phone. The previous iPhone had a 480x320-pixel resolution with a density at half the iPhone 4's 326 pixels per inch.
The new version also has a forward-facing camera for video calling, using an application Apple calls FaceTime. Proposed as an industry standard by Apple, FaceTime will at launch work only over Wi-Fi.
"iPhone 4 is the biggest leap since the original iPhone," Jobs said in a statement. "FaceTime video calling sets a new standard for mobile communication, and our new retina display is the highest resolution display ever in a phone, with text looking like it does on a fine printed page. We have been dreaming about both of these breakthroughs for decades."
The handset is 9.3mm thick, with both front and back being made of aluminosilicate glass — according to Apple, this substance is "chemically strengthened to be 30 times harder than plastic". A stainless steel band, which has the handset's antennae built into it, encircles the iPhone 4.
The iPhone 4 uses the same Apple A4 chipset that debuted in the iPad. According to the company, this processor allows for seven hours of 3G talktime, six hours of 3G web surfing and up to 40 hours of audio playback. A second microphone for noise cancellation — already a feature of handsets such as Google's Nexus One Android phone — is also included. For connectivity, it has 802.11n Wi-Fi and quad-band HSPA with a 7.2Mbps maximum downlink and 5.8Mbps maximum uplink.
The device's camera has been upgraded from 3 megapixels to 5 megapixels, and has gained an LED flash that can be kept on for high-definition video recording. The camera has a back-illuminated sensor, which aids low-light photography. The phone also has a three-axis gyroscope, to make the device more sensitive and accurate when judging movement.
In addition, the new handset will get the iBooks e-reader app, which is already available for the iPad.
The iPhone 4 is also the first to use the new version of Apple's smartphone operating system, now renamed from 'iPhone OS' to 'iOS', in a nod to the fact that the operating system now powers iPads as well as iPhones. The company has licensed the iOS name from Cisco, which uses IOS for its Internetwork Operating System.
On 21 June, iOS 4 will be made available for earlier incarnations of the iPhone including the 3G and 3GS, albeit with cut-down functionality. It includes multitasking, bringing Apple's smartphone OS in line with rivals such as Android and Symbian. It also features folders for apps, support for multiple Exchange accounts and Exchange Server 2010, SSL VPN support, encryption and wireless app distribution for enterprises.
The operating system also introduces Apple's mobile advertising platform, iAd. Due to launch on 1 July, the platform gives developers the ability to create video advertising for iPhone users. According to Apple, companies such as Best Buy, Nissan and Disney have already committed $60m for advertising on iAd in the second half of this year.
Also on Monday, the mobile advertising company Greystripe announced a collaboration with Adobe to provide a cross-platform advertising network that will see Flash-authored ads delivered across Android, the iPhone and the iPad. According to Greystripe, this approach will allow for ads that are "priced at a fraction of the cost" of iAd ads, while permitting a greater variety of formats.