Hands-On With the New Apple iPhone 4

Though details of the Apple iPhone 4 were already widely known, expectations were nonetheless sky-high for the smartphone's official unveiling Tuesday at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Jobs did not disappoint, unveiling a new phone operating system called iOS4, video conferencing capability, and a next-gen device with hardware specs tech fans are sure to drool over.

I spent about 45 minutes playing with Apple's new iPhone 4. In a word: Wow. And I don't throw that word around lightly. Here are a few of my first hands-on impressions.

Let's start with the screen, which Apple has branded a "Retina Display." I can safely say it's the best mobile phone display I've ever seen. The text is so sharp that it looks like someone polished the jagged pixel edges off of every word.

The form factor of this phone is super thin and really solid. It makes my current iPhone 3GS look like it had one too many burritos. You won't appreciate the solid stainless-steel frame until it's in your hand. Everything about the build of this phone feels solid -- even the stainless steel buttons.

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This phone is wicked fast -- and I say that with a fast HTC EVO phone sitting in my pocket. The EVO uses Sprint's 4G network, while the iPhone runs on AT&T's 3G network. But that didn't hold the Apple device back at all.

For me the speed was particularly apparent when I started snapping photos. I spent many minutes playing with the camera app and I noticed that it takes pictures much faster than the iPhone 3GS.

The speed of the operating system is apparent in every app I launched -- particularly in the new iMovie app which let's users shoot, edit, and render full movies on the iPhone. In a normal world, editing video on a mobile phone would sound like a ridiculous feat of strength, but Apple just made it happen. And they made it happen without any of the sluggishness I'd expect. I couldn't help thinking the company just turned everyone with an iPhone into an amateur movie producer.

Two microphones! Yes, this baby finally has the noise-canceling power of the Nexus One phone thanks to dual microphones. I tested the power of the mics in a noisy room while recording some video. The results speak for themselves:

Then there's FaceTime, as Apple is calling the new video chat feature. I'm disappointed that it's not yet ready for use on 3G networks, right now being restricted to calls placed over Wi-Fi networks.

Don't get me wrong, the FaceTime feature is beautifully conceived -- it lets you make face-to-face video calls with just a single click, after all. But I want to be able to stand near the Golden Gate bridge and make a video call to my mom, and say, "hey mom, take a look where I am." That just can't happen yet.

Steve Jobs was asked last week if his WWDC Keynote would have a stylish answer to Google's recent round of nice Android phones. He answered, "You won't be disappointed."

He was right.