“Oh no they didn’t!”
No, I mean, they really didn’t. What many had expected at Apple’s iPhone event on Tuesday, the introduction of the iPhone 5, did not happen. It doesn’t (officially) exist yet. While disappointing, there were some interesting developments that were announced. Primarily, the newest iteration of the iPhone, the 4S.
The iPhone 4S doesn’t look too different from the iPhone 4. In fact, it has the same exact casing. Many iPhone 4 users who were planning on waiting for their next upgrade will not have to hide their phones in shame as they pass the new iPhone users- no one will be able to tell. That doesn’t mean, however, that the phones are identical. Far from it.
The 4S has a number of new features and upgrades which make it a better phone. A new chip, a better camera and some other neat features all come together to form a phone which leaves its predecessor far behind.
Apple has taken the same dual-core chip from the iPad 2 and put it into the 4S. What does this mean? It means that the 4S’s processors will now split the workload of your iPhone. The “S” might as well stand for “speed” as that’s the first thing you’ll notice. Everything will be faster: web pages will load 2x as fast, applications will launch and run much quicker, their associated graphics will render faster and most importantly, data will download 2x as fast (14.4 Mbps.)
Not only faster but the phone will last longer too. The battery life is not hindered at all, but in fact, lengthened. The iPhone 4S battery can handle as much as 8 hours of talk time and 6 hours of web browsing (9 if you use a Wi-Fi connection.)
Many have been using their iPhones as cameras but the iPhone 4S really delivers on this value prop. The 4S has donned on an 8 megapixel sensor, a new fifth lens, has face detection and reduced motion blur. This puts it toe-to-toe with any of the point-and-shoot cameras out there. You can now also use the photo taking functionality for basic editing and cropping. Video on the new iPhone has also seen some improvement; the 4S can shoot 1080p HD video compared to the iPhone 4 which can only shoot 720p.
This iPhone is everywhere
The iPhone has finally gone global! No more need to worry about what network you’re in. CDMA or GSM? Who know? And now, who cares? With the 4S it doesn’t matter, the device supports both. This has been a particular sticking point with businesses (or anyone for that matter) that travels. Just take your iPhone anywhere and it will work.
This new accessibility actually ties into another big story this week: Sprint now carries the iPhone. A good move for Apple as it will now be able to capitalize on Sprint’s some 35 million customers. A good new market for the iPhone to compete with the Android phones, which until now, had a monopoly.
This is also a good move for sprint in my opinion because it can finally compete with the other networks (Verizon and AT&T.) Sprint has not been doing too well in comparison lately and even though the investment in the iPhone is a sizable one, to the tune of $20 billion, it should be a mutually beneficial one. The fact that the iPhone is now on Sprint’s network is a gamble worth taking because I expect customers to flock to Sprint once they realize the benefits of having such a fast phone coupled with that of an unlimited data plan (something neither Verizon nor AT&T are willing to offer.)
Siri: Functional Voice Command
And last, but certainly not least, is Siri. Something completely unique and exclusive to the 4S (sorry folks, but even if you download iOS 5, it won’t give you this functionality.) Think of it as your personal assistant. You need to know the weather on your morning commute- just ask your phone “What is the weather like today?” Siri will answer you in a few seconds. Need directions? Siri will look it up for you and display a map. Want to go out to a new restaurant for dinner? Ask Siri and you might just discover your new favorite place. And for those late nights, simply speak your text message and Siri will spell it out for you so it’s legible.
Voice command on phones has been a point of ridicule for quite some time but no more. What makes Siri so unique is that the A.I. seems to be able to understand “concepts” and give the 4S the uncanny ability to understand the context of what its owner is saying. The deep integration that Siri has with the apps on the iPhone (maps, reminders, calendar, contacts and a variety of other) is truly outstanding and a completely new offering in smartphones. See how it works here: Siri on the iPhone 4S
At the end of the day, was the lack of an iPhone 5 a letdown? Yes it was. But the introduction of the iPhone 4S is definitely a step in the right direction and is enough to keep us distracted… for now at least.