iPhone 4: What’s In It For Gamers

Today’s Apple keynote by Steve Jobs unveiled the latest iPhone hardware, called iPhone 4. In addition to some of the more impressive new features, like video chat for phone calls and HD video recording and editing, the new phone and its operating system have a handful of goodies that should be of interest to gamers.

The number one advantage gamers will have on the iPhone 4 is its clearer display, dubbed “retina display”. The iPhone 4 will have 960×640 resolution, so if developers take advantage, games can have potentially much sharper graphics. The processor in the iPhone 4 is an A4, the same that powers the iPad. But it has fewer pixels (though twice as dense as an iPhone 3GS display), so games could potentially run faster and look better.

Games looking and running better doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll play better, however. For that, gamers are expecting the gyroscope that comes included in the iPhone 4 to revolutionize motion control. In a Jenga-like gaming demo, Steve Jobs moved around in a circle to show off the gyroscope’s functionality. Potentially, the iPhone 4’s gyroscope will be much more accurate than the compass included in last year’s iPhone 3GS. For more on the difference between the two, read more here.

We’re not holding our breath for gyro-only games, however. If we learned anything from the 3GS last year, it’s that developers are much more likely to make their games compatible with more devices, than be on the cutting edge for just a few potential customers.

Most of the gaming perks we can look forward to will be available June 21, when iPhone OS 4 (now called iOS4) hits the App Store. With that, iPhone 3GS users (and eventually iPhone 4 users) will have access to multitasking, so no more losing your place because you get a phone call. You can also listen to apps like Pandora while playing a game, and everything should play your mp3s without a problem.

One feature that was strangely missing from the iOS4 discussion today was Apple’s Game Center, the leaderboard and matchmaking system that was revealed at April’s press conference. Since this critical aspect of Apple’s gaming strategy has yet to be fully revealed, we can only expect that it will appear in a final form at Apple’s traditional September iPod press conference.

We plan on buying an iPhone 4 when they go on sale June 24 (though you can preorder them only June 15), and will be sure to tell you definitively whether or not gamers need to upgrade.

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