Today in Apple history: iPhone 4 arrives with glorious Retina display

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iPhone4
Did you own the iPhone 4?
Photo: Apple

June 24 Today in Apple historyJune 24, 2010: Apple’s fourth generation of iPhone, the iPhone 4, goes on sale.

While the device is perhaps most remembered for the infamous “Antennagate,” it is otherwise a pretty great handset. In its first weekend, it sells 1.7 million units: considered a major triumph for Apple.

The iPhone 4 was the follow-up to the iPhone 3GS. It was introduced by Steve Jobs at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) a few weeks earlier on June 7. It was the final iPhone to be released while Steve Jobs was alive, and the last one to be debuted at WWDC. From the following year, Apple shifted the iPhone launch to fall and staged its own special event.

In terms of features, the iPhone 4 introduced users to FaceTime. It also boasted an upgraded 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, VGA-quality front-facing camera, and significant Retina display screen resolution upgrade — with 4x the number of pixels as its predecessor. In terms of its appearance, it stuck with the 3.5-inch form factor of previous devices, but was reimagined in a flatter, Braun-inspired design that was a whole 24 percent thinner than its predecessor.

Antennagate and other problems

It wasn’t perfect, of course. As mentioned, there was the Antennagate problem which meant that some users reported dropped calls. This was one of the first big controversies in iPhone history, and resulted in Steve Jobs having to cut short a vacation to host a press conference about it. The eventual class action lawsuit dragged on for two years after.

There was also problems caused by its first-gen Retina display, which caused it to chug along at times. Apple tried to compensate with a boost in RAM (to 512MB), improved processor (the A4) and longer battery life.

Released the following year, the iPhone 4s improved a lot of the iPhone 4’s problems, and may go down in history as my favorite iPhone as a result. But the iPhone 4 was still a pretty darn great handset in its own right. And, coming the same year as the first iPad, it was a great culmination to the career of Steve Jobs.

Do you have fond or less-than-fond memories of the iPhone 4? Leave your comments below.