iPhone 4 to hit Australia July 30

Exact pricing plans yet to be released

Apple’s flagship iPhone 4 handset will be launched in Australia on Friday, July 30, according to the company’s chief executive, Steve Jobs.

He confirmed the release date at a press conference in the US.

Apple had not previously revealed the exact timing for the device’s launch, only saying it would be available in July.

Australia is one second wave of countries to get the handset. They include Canada, Italy, New Zealand and Singapore,.

All of Australia’s major mobile telcos – Telstra, VHA (which operates the ‘3’ and Vodafone brands) and Optus and its Virgin Mobile subsidiary – have confirmed they will sell the iPhone. But exact pricing plans have yet to be released.

The news came as Jobs also announced that Apple would give away free cases to iPhone 4 buyers who picked up the phone before September 30 – giving Australians some two months to buy an iPhone if they want to take advantage of the offer. However, it remains unclear how - and to what extent - the offer will be available locally.

The news appears to be intended as some form of redress by Apple to iPhone 4 buyers who have been concerned about what some media organisations in the US have labeled as the handset’s poor mobile signal strength compared with previous models when held in a certain way.

However, in a public letter, Apple said that it wasn’t the signal strength itself that was at fault – although Jobs said it was able to verify that handsets by other manufacturers had the same issue. Instead, it was the way that Apple was displaying the signal strength.

“Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong,” Apple said in the letter.

The iPhone 4 features a raft of changes compared with previous models, starting with the re-designed exterior, which features a glass front and back and a rejuvenated flat design. The iPhone 4 can film HD video in 720p resolution, and features a new, high-resolution display with a higher pixel count for greater viewing fidelity. Apple has also built in a new feature dubbed FaceTime which allows users to make video calls via Wi-Fi using the iPhone 4′s new camera on its front.

The phone’s launch in Australia comes as many purchasers of the first Apple handset to be available in Australia – the iPhone 3G – are completing their two-year contracts for their existing handset.

However, the Australian market is also seeing a rash of handsets launch based on Google’s Android platform, which delivers similar functionality to Apple’s devices in many areas – and exceeding them in some.

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