Sizing up the iPhone 4 for shutterbugs

After Apple announced the hardware specs at WWDC, we saw some readers quickly lament Apple’s decision not to jam in an 8MP or higher sensor that some of the competition is sporting—after all, if 5MP is better than 3.1MP, then 8MP (or even 12MP) is even better, right?

Unfortunately, not all pixels are created equal, and it’s worth considering the impact that more megapixels would have on the iPhone’s design as well as the resulting image quality. For comparison’s sake, OmniVision offers an 8MP sensor in the 1/3.2″ size; since Apple already chose a 1/3.2″ sensor for the iPhone 4, there’s no difference there. However, it would require a larger and/or more expensive lens to resolve enough detail to take advantage of those additional 3 million pixels—not an easy feat since Apple shaved off 24 percent of the size of the iPhone 3GS. Further, an 8MP sensor has 1.4µm pixel pitch, with sensitivity below that of the iPhone 3GS.

Great article about the iPhone 4’s new camera system. It may be nothing spec-head geeks will appreciate, but those of us in the real world like a technical discussion that isn’t based on marketing and sales checklists.

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Silly Apple Criticism 1: iPhone 4’s FaceTime is Like Video Chat, Only More Restrictive

The Critique: You need iPhone 4 and WiFi. Ha! I just can just whip out my phone and video chat with anyone right now.

Really? Like everyone has a smartphone with a front-facing camera and chat software with a registered account they happen to be logged into. Oh, and a buddy list you’re on (well, assuming you both use a compatible chat protocol).

Point is, the number of “ready” devices for video chat/call is very small. For iPhone 4, it’ll be 0 on Day 1, but not on Day 90. After the first quarter of availability there will likely be more iPhone 4 devices ready for FaceTime than there are other devices ready for video chat.

And I don’t mean theoretically ready, I mean ready. The beauty of FaceTime is that there’s no setup. All you need is the phone. You don’t have to get chat software, install, sign up, add buddies, etc., and then make sure the other person has done the same. As usual, Apple made it “just work”.

Further, the need for WiFi is not so restrictive when you consider you’re not (I hope!) video calling from, say, a car. You’re likely in a stationary location (home, hotel, office, etc.) where WiFi is frequently available. And WiFi is only a temporary (for 2010) restriction anyway.

Finally, Apple made FaceTime an open standard, so if Android phone manufacturers have any brains they’ll fight to be first to market with it on their new devices. Once that happens, I’m sure many of the people complaining now will suddenly see what a smart and practical implementation FaceTime really is.