The moment that smartphone geeks have been waiting for is finally here: Apple has just unveiled the fourth generation iPhone at today’s WWDC conference in San Francisco. At a diminutive 9.3 mm thick, the svelte new device is 25% thinner than the 3GS, significantly lighter, and it boasts a long-lasting battery that boosts call time up to 7 hours — but is it green?

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The iPhone 4 has some impressive specs, including six-axis motion sensing, a 4x overall pixel count increase compared to the iPhone 3, a 5 megapixel camera with 5X digital zoom, the capability to record HD video at 720p / 30fp, and — perhaps most impressively — a larger battery that provides 7 hours of 3G talk, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 10 hours of WiFi browsing, 10 hours of video, and 40 hours of music. That larger battery means users don’t need to plug the phone in as much, which in turn means less overall power use.

Apple’s new phone also offers the ability to use more than one application at once. It’s a feature that has been unique the Android operating system up until now, and while it’s certainly useful, it’s not all that green. That’s because using more than one app at the same time sucks up battery life — effectively canceling out the benefits of the iPhone 4’s larger battery. Still, users don’t have to use the feature, and it’s a helpful option to have.

The iPhone 4’s “retinal display” of 326 pixels per inch (ppi) makes it ideal for reading books — the human eye can’t differentiate between digital displays and print above 300 ppi. It’s unlikely that most people will use the handset instead of larger resource-heavy e-readers or printed books, but we imagine that certain users might read newspapers on their iPhone instead of on paper.

Another practical and green benefit of the new iPhone: it’s 9.3mm thick — 25% thinner than the iPhone 3GS. A thinner phone means fewer resources go into making the product.

Is the iPhone 4 more sustainable than the iPhone 3? Yes. But it’s still not nearly as sustainable as, say Samsung’s recyclable bio-plastic Reclaim phone. We’re hoping that Apple continues to make strides in battery life and resource use — it still has a long way to go.

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