By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
June 8, 2010

Steve Jobs’ new phone gets positive — but not glowing — notices from three analysts

“While the iPhone 4 isn’t the leap forward that Apple paints it as,” says Forrester’s Charles Golvin, “it is an exceptionally beautiful device and is a substantial upgrade that will succeed in maintaining Apple’s mind and market share growth.”

“While the announced features of the iPhone 4 were as expected,” writes Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, “the reality is this phone is significantly more advanced than the next best alternative.”

The device doesn’t go on sale until June 24 — three selling days before the end of Apple’s (AAPL) third fiscal quarter, but Munster is raising his iPhone estimates for Q3 2010 a bit — to 8.5 million units, down 3% from last quarter. The Street, he believes, is looking for sales of 8.7 million units.

Munster cites five key features that will encourage upgrades: 1) the thinner design (24% thinner than the 3GS), 2) the longer battery life, 3) the improved camera system — with a 5 megapixel camera capable of HD video recording and an LED flash — 4) the $4.99 iMovie app and 5) the front-facing camera for video chats.

Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty points to six reasons existing iPhone owners will upgrade — she includes multitasking (only the 3GS gets the upgrade), and the faster A4 processor — and estimates that AT&T new tiered pricing will add another 22 million potential customers in the U.S.

Forrester’s Golvin zeroed in on the video chat feature:

“With its FaceTime video calling app the company has demonstrated what it does best: make technology usable by mainstream consumers. If Apple succeeds in convincing the industry to adopt FaceTime as a standard, the New York World’s Fail [that’s a Freudian typo; he means Fair] of 1964 will finally realize one of its visions: video telephony.”

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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