updated 02:15 pm EDT, Tue October 4, 2011
Dual-core, seven-times boost to graphics
Apple today revealed the iPhone 4S, its next-generation smartphone. The device makes the switch to dual-core A5 processor, giving it about twice the CPU speed of the iPhone 4 but a seven-fold improvement in graphics performance. The phone also includes a new antenna system, which automatically switches between two antennas to transmit and receive. More importantly, download and upload speeds have jumped to 14.4Mbps and 5.8Mbps respectively, and the device is a world phone, capable of handling both GSM and CDMA networks.
A new 8 megapixel camera uses a backside illuminated CMOS sensor, and should be about one-thirds faster. An IR filter is meant to produce more accurate and uniform colors, and a five-element lens is said to produce sharper images with a maximum aperture of f/2.4. Apple has even implemented its own image signal processor, and the company claims to have one of the quickest time-to-first-photo speeds at 1.1 seconds. AirPlay mirroring, 1080p video recording and video image stabilization have been implemented.
Also new is Siri, an intelligent voice assistant based on the iPhone app of the same name. Users can hold down the Home button to speak plain-language questions and commands. In response iOS will present the relevant data from sources like Weather, Wikipedia or Wolfram Alpha, or in the case of commands execute functions in apps like Calendar, Reminders, SMS, Maps, Mail and Phone. A new Dictation function will let people speak instead of type when keyboard prompts are available.
The conversion process is handled remotely, requiring a 3G or Wi-Fi connection. US, British, and Australian English are initially being supported, along with French and German, although the technology is currently considered in beta. Siri is said to improve over time as it adapts to your voice.
Preorders for the iPhone 4S start Friday, October 7th. Black and white models will ship to the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan on October 14th; US carriers will include AT&T, Verizon and for the first time Sprint. On the 28th another 22 countries will get the hardware, and by the end of the year the total should reach 70.
US prices on contract are $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for a new 64GB option.