Well, it seems that the stars have not aligned today to give us the iPhone 5, but nevertheless, today’s event in Apple’s campus saw the unveil of the iPhone 4S, and while it’s essentially the same as the old iPhone 4 on the outside, it’s all new on the inside. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Processor and performance
The device now sports a dual core, A5 chip that Apple says delivers 7x faster graphics than the old iPhone 4. One of the main advantages of this is obviously gaming – a demo of the new Infinity Blade 2 game was delivered by no other than Mike Capps, the president of Epic Games. The initial reports that we hear was that the device performed perfectly which makes the 4S a great platform for eye popping mobile games.
The new device also sports a new, 8 megapixel sensor for the camera (3264 x 2448, 60% more pixels than the previous iPhone) which the company says allows the device to gather 73% more light than the previous model. Other notable specs for the new camera are 5 element lens, 30% more sharpness and a f/2.3 aperture. The new camera is also pretty fast – the 4S takes just 1.1s to take a photo, and half a second to take another shot. The new camera is also able to take 1080p HD videos.
Another redesigned part of the 4S is the new antenna – which now intelligently switches between the two antennas between transmit and receive. The new antenna also makes it possible for the 4S to have faster downloads using HSDPA, with the device being able to acheive a 14.4 Mbps downlink, as opposed to the 7.2 Mbps on the iPhone 4. Hopefully Apple has also fixed the antenna issues aka no more grip of death.
Another new feature is Siri – an intelligent personal assistant that helps you get through the day via voice recognition. It seems that Apple has managed to nail this one right on the head – Siri is able to understand questions phrased naturally and respond accordingly – during the Siri demo, Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing asked Siri a couple of questions, like what is the hourly forecast and if he needed a raincoat today. Both times, Siri responded intelligently, answering his first query with a detailed weather forecast and a simple “It sure looks like rain today” answer for the second question. Siri is also able to do location searches and other stuff, like placing alarms when you ask her to (“Wake me up tomorrow at 6am”) to finding a great Greek restaurant in Palo Alto (Siri responds by finding 14 restaurants, sorted by rating, through Yelp). Obviously you’re not getting that much data from being offline – it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll need to be connected via the web to be able to use Siri, but from what we’ve seen, it’s more than worth it. Siri will be available in English, French, and German.
Of course all of these features will have to come at cost to battery life right? Well, not really. Apple’s quoting 8 hours of 3G talk time (which stretches to 14 hours when using just 2G), 6 hours of browsing, 9 hours on WiFi, 10 hours of video and 40 hours of music.
The iPhone 4S retails for $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for the 32GB version and $399 for the 64GB version, all on a two year contract in the states, which basically puts it in the same price point with the iPhone 4 when it launched.
No local date as of yet, but it will hit the US, Canada, Austrailia, UK, France, Germany and Japan on the 14th, with the device landing in 22 more countries by the 28th, and 70 countries by the end of the year. Apple is calling this their fastest rollout ever.