∞ iPhone 4S, with dual-core processor and Siri, coming Oct. 14

Apple on Tuesday introduced the iPhone 4S. The new phone comes out on Friday, October 14, 2011 and will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. Carrier-subsidized prices in the US are $199, $299 and $399 respectively. It comes in black or white.

While externally similar to the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S features a dual-core A5 microprocessor inside, the same kind used in the iPad 2. This nets a 7x speed improvement to graphics and a 2x overall speed improvement to CPU-dependent tasks, according to Apple. The battery lasts for up to eight hours of talk time on a 3G network.

One of the major new enhancements capable with the iPhone 4S’s improved processor performance is Siri, a built-in “intelligent assistant” that can respond to you when you ask the phone questions or give it commands, such as locating a restaurant, getting weather reports or directions, or making an appointment. It can also help send text messages, perform complex calculations and more.

A dramatically improved camera takes 8 megapixel still images and records 1080p HD video with image stabilization. Apple says the camera features a hybrid infrared filter and an effective f/2.4 aperture, making it better suited to take pictures in low light. It also takes pictures faster, and has a shot-to-shot capability twice as fast as its predecessor.

The steel band antenna surrounding the phone uses what Apple describes as an “intelligently switching” design to send and receive data and voice communications; likely redesigned in the wake of the iPhone 4’s apparent antenna-related issues. It also comes as a “world phone,” able to operate on both GSM and CDMA bands. The iPhone 4S can also download data on HSDPA networks at up to 14.4 megabits per second – twice as fast as the iPhone 4, though still short of the speeds of LTE networks currently in early deployment by Verizon and AT&T.

The iPhone 4S is the first iPhone to feature iOS 5 out of the box. Apple counts over 200 improvements in iOS 5, including Notification Center and iMessage, a new integrated messaging service. iOS 5 also supports iCloud, Apple’s new cloud-based services to replace most of what it has offered with MobileMe.

In related news, Apple announced that the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 remain available for sale after the iPhone 4S’s launch. The iPhone 3GS will now become available for free with a two-year contract, while the iPhone 4 will be relegated to a single 8GB model for $99 with a two-year contract.

Apple has also announced that with the iPhone 4S’s launch, the U.S. cell carrier Sprint will now carry the phone.

  • Gw

    Well, meh…

  • Anonymous

    I knew I would be getting either the 5 (or, as we now know it, the 4S) or the discounted 4, and I’m extremely satisfied with the 4S’s improvements. I can’t speak for the rest of the market, but I’m very pleased with the outcome and will be upgrading from my 3GS with no reservations.

    • Canucker

      Me too. This model was entirely predictable and the “hype” around a teardrop iPhone 5 was solely from rumour sites.  There were zero reports of hardware or supplier leaks supporting the larger screen and Apple also waited until 3G chipsets didn’t desecrate the battery before implementing them. The 4S downloads as fast as “true 4G” phones but has double the battery life. It’s a shame about Siri only being for the 4S as that will limit its uptake, but it is a differentiator. The tech behind Siri is fairly significant and may be Apple’s first foray in disrupting Google search revenues.

      • Anonymous

        Worth noting, maybe, that the Siri app is still available (I think) on the app store. I’ve had it on my 3GS for a while.

        There is also perhaps a little hyperbole on the 4S’s download speed: supposedly it uses HSPDA protocol with a theoretical 14.4 mbs download ceiling, but AT&T has very very little HSPDA coverage; we may only get 7.2 instead of 14.4 across most of the country. Europe, though, has a lot of HSPDA.

  • I was interested for about 30 minutes. But now it’s starting to look like Siri is not going to be available in Canada?!  There’s no mention of it on the Apple.ca website at all.


  • The only feature that has me tempted is the new camera; it’s absolutely lustworthy.

  • Dot

    I will get one on Friday. I’m still using my 3G and need a new one. Can you tell me if there is only the one voice for Siri? I was thinking a baritone  with a French accent might be nice…

  • Anonymous

    Pending initial reaction to actual shipping units (I like to wait a week or so and see what the first feedback from users is like), my only remaining question is whether to spring for the 32GB model. I use a 16GB 3GS, but that’s with almost no photo-taking. I anticipate taking a lot more photos (and larger, with the increased pixel count), so I’m pondering whether 16 will be enough.

    This morning I removed a lot of music I don’t listen to, and that cleared up a lot of space. But the real question is iCloud. iCloud has 5GB of storage for free, but as I recall Photostream is outside of that. How often could I clear out the photos on the phone and still know they are there for later download to my iMac? How much, if at all, does iCloud reduce the need for physical local storage?

    • On the storage question: I store a lot of photos on my iPhone 4 (32 GB), but I rarely surpass 2 GB for those. If you keep your music current you could be ok with 16 GB, but I’d recommend the 32 GB. I have loads of apps and music on there and frequently have only 2 GB of space left on it. YMMV.

      AFAIK, iCloud saves up to 1000 items for 30 days, so it really depends on the amount of stuff you put up there. I’m curious as to the mechanics of that, too. What if I don’t access my Mac for a while and need to make space on the iPhone?

      • Anonymous

        I went to the iCloud page on the Apple site and looked at info for Photostream. OK, it seems that: –Any photo you take on the iPhone automatically gets sent to iCloud immediately–As you point out, iCloud saves up to 1000 photos for up to 30 days (I’m inferring that each single photo has its own 30-day clock) –All Photostream photos are not only available on your Mac but they also get downloaded fully into iPhoto.

        So it would SEEM that if you are able to download to your Mac once every 30 days or less, that you could keep current. Secondary questions:

        –What happens to a photo I take on the iPhone that I subsequently delete on the phone before I’ve had an opportunity to download it to iPhoto? That’s a very key question: if I don’t have to wait until sync (that is, if the photo lives in iCloud even after I’ve deleted it from my phone) then that makes it possible to have pretty good throughput without much space on the device. –What criteria need to be met for the photos to make it to my Mac? I assume that I at least need to be logged in to my user account. Does iPhoto need to be running? What if I have two accounts (or two Macs) each with the same iTunes account, can the same photo be downloaded to each of them (not just viewable as a stream, but downloaded and stored)? –Will this require Lion? I’m not inclined yet to upgrade to Lion, but this might be the issue that pushes me to that point.

        I also realize that $100 might not be much for a two-year investment. That’s just $4 and change per month. So I’m perhaps overthinking this (wouldn’t be the first time, won’t be the last). But, hey, I can probably use that extra c-note on something useful (like part of my total cost to upgrade to Lion).

        • You have pretty much the same questions I do, so let’s grab a cup of tea and wait, shall we?

          • Anonymous

            lol, roger that.

  • Anonymous

    OK, it pains me a little to bring this up, but Siri has begun to remind me of the Knowledge Navigator. The KN was championed by John Sculley in the late 1980’s, a project to which he could attach his name the way Steve Jobs had attached his name to the Macintosh. Apple produced a promotional video for the Knowledge Navigator, featuring a professor preparing for a lecture. It was tabletish, with a touch interface, and it featured a software agent designed to look like a personal assistant (and who looked not a little like an 80’s era Steve Jobs).

    The interaction with the assistant is very conversational, natural. Siri brings the technology that much closer to this image of the Knowledge Navigator. I wonder if this video is still shown around the Apple campus (or in its boardroom). You can find the video on youtube, search on “Knowledge Navigator”.