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No iPhone 5, but iPhone 4S here October 14th

- October 4th, 2011

Iphone4sBlackWhite

When Apple announced its fall event, they said, “Let’s talk iPhone.” Many of us anticipated the announcement of the iPhone 5, but it was over 50 minutes into the presentation before any discussion of a new iPhone of any sort was muttered. But when the dust settled, a new iPhone emerged–the iPhone 4S.

More than a new iPhone 4

Speculation had a possible 4S as a watered down model for the prepaid market. Not so, it’s more! If anything, it’s a souped-up iPhone 4. The new iPhone 4S is based on the same form factor as a current model. It features a dual-core Apple A5 chip making it up to 2 times faster than the previous model. The graphics chip is also dual core yielding up to 7 times faster performance than its predecessor as witnessed by a demonstration of the upcoming Infinity Blade II, available December 1st.

The iPhone 4S also incorporates changes to the iPhone’s built-in antenna system, improving call quality & reliability using a new system to switch intelligently between the transmitting and receiving antennas.

Even with higher performance processor and graphics, battery life is now rated at a respectable 8 hours of 3G talk time, 9 hours of Wi-Fi browsing or 10 hours of video.

Another smart move was making the new iPhone, a “World” phone, meaning that one model is equipped with both CDMA and GSM capabilities, so the same phone can run on multiple network types, in various countries, subject to carrier approval.

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Enhanced 8-megapixel camera

One of its most visible new features is the incorporation of an 8-megapixel sensor (3264 x 2448) camera, offering 60% more pixels than before. Now this isn’t just the same old camera with a larger sensor, it’s been totally redesigned.

It’s equipped with an f/2.4 5-element lens assembly, offering a 30% sharper pick-up. It also features a backside illuminated CMOS sensor, allowing 73% more light to hit it, which has a significant impact, especially in low light conditions. They’ve also  added a hybrid IR filter for greater accuracy & uniformity of colours as well as a new signal image processor, offering a 26% better white balance and capturing images 33% faster than before.  The iPhone 4S can whip off its first picture in 1.1 seconds and only 0.5 seconds for the 2nd.

The new camera is face detection enabled, so it can recognize people in your photos.

There’s no doubt that Apple is certainly going after the point and shoot market as well as bringing competition to the cameras found in higher end Android-based smartphones.

There’s more.  Video has also been enhanced with the 4S offering 1080p HD video recording, noise reduction and image stabilization.

iPhone 4S has also added Airplay Mirroring, a featured found on the iPad, so you can enjoy your videos and games on a larger screen, with the option of doing so wired or wirelessly.

ip4Siri

Siri – Your Intelligent Assistant

The iPhone 4S also introduces Siri, a new feature, currently in BETA, as “your intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.”  It understands context, so you can give it commands in natural language and can either comply, reply or both.

If you ask it if it will rain in Toronto today or “do I need an umbrella for the weekend?”  that you are looking for a weather forecast in your location.   You can tell it to wake you up at 7AM. It will say “ok “and set your alarm for that time. You can even ask it to look up something in Wikipedia.

Siri also does dictation, taking a page from Dragon, allowing you for example, to compose text messages hands-free.

Siri is available in English (US, UK & Aussie localised), French and German.

Shipping Simultaneously in U.S. & Canada

The iPhone 4S will be available for pre-order on October 7th and will ship on October 14th. Interestingly enough, it will ship in Canada, US as well as France, Germany, Australia, UK and Japan on the same day. Now that’s a first!

It will be available in black or white and will run on Apple iOS 5, which by the way will be available as a free download for all current iOS devices, October 12th.

Two-year contract pricing for the iPhone 4S in the US will be 16GB $199, 32GB $299 and 64GB $399.  The iPhone 4 will drop to $99 and the iPhone 3GS will be free with contract.

No Canadian pricing is available yet. However, Apple Canada’s website shows the iPhone 4S, unlocked, I presume, “from $649CDN.”

Bottom Line

My knee jerk reaction at first was that I was a little disappointed that there was no iPhone 5, but after seeing the iPhone 4S, now, not so much so. While it’s not totally redesigned, it is significantly enhanced.  First, it’s much faster, and faster is always good. It’s a world phone offering flexibility on various networks. The new camera, might just be a reason to leave your point and shoot at home and Siri could make open the doors for some huge 3rd party development opportunities as more people embrace smartphones and as distracted driving laws become more prominent.

So should you get one? If you don’t have an iPhone, yes! If you have an iPhone 3G or 3GS, then probably. If you have an iPhone 4, but are still on contract, you might need to weigh the value of the enhancements – speed, enhanced camera and Siri & versus the payout on your old one.  And for world travelers, the iPhone 4S may be your answer!

Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg.

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10 comments

  1. AppleYouSuck | October 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    ive been waiting months for this iphone to come out, i had done so much reading up about it and there were tons of rumors flying around at possible bigger screen and a complete redesign along with better software. my birthday was august 22nd and i got nothing on that day of even in that week because i had heard that apple was coming out with the iphone possibly in august. weeks went by and then rumours changed to late september and eventually i was certain it would be october 4 and so now i sit here completely pissed off at apple for waiting about 15 months to put in a slightly better camera and a different processor chip.

  2. Stark | October 4, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    As a fan of modern technology I have to say that the iPhone 4S is more than a little underwhelming, especially in the light of Google holding their own conference in a weeks time where they’ll officially announce the latest version of Android and the first phone to run it out of the box; the Google Nexus Prime, which is shaping up to be a beast of a phone.

    Apple needs to do a lot better than just matching the competition if it wants keep a foothold in the market, the Android and Windows Phone 7 handsets in the not too distant future will blow them right out of the water if they can’t. Especially if they continue to insist making their users pay top dollar for a device that is technologically the same as a cheaper alternative.

  3. activemind | October 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    What can I say…been waiting on this news, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t release the iPhone 5. I was anticipating for a facelift on the design with a bigger screen. I guess I will have to wait.

  4. ming | October 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    what about GPS?

  5. Greg Gazin | October 5, 2011 at 1:35 am

    It has assisted GPS – all the same features as the iPhone 4 plus what’s covered above.

  6. J Kane | October 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

    After all the hype it was definitely a disappointment.

  7. baynes | October 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Just spoke to apple rep. Siri will not funtion in Canada. So much for upgrading.

  8. consto | November 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    My 3 years contract is up this month and I’m thinking of upgrading to the iPhone 4S, but I’m hearing that there are some issues with the battery. So I have some questions to help me decide:
    1- Is it isolated cases or all phones are experiencing this shortage?

    2- Apparently SIRI is not fully functional in Canada. None of the carriers is promoting it on the iPhone 4S page as you can see here: http://www.bell.ca/Mobility/Products/Apple_iPhone_4S. With SIRI not functioning well is the 4S worth it over the 4?

    3- Given all this shouldn’t I just wait for the the iPhone 5 which I’m guessing will be out next year?

    Thanks for any help in making this decision.

  9. Greg Gazin | November 15, 2011 at 12:02 am

    To answer your questions, some people have been experiencing issues with their batteries. Some have found sanctuary with the 5.0.1 update, and many others – not. See post entitled: Apple iOS 5.0.1 update gets mixed welcome http://blogs.canoe.ca/canoetech/?p=87281

    As for Siri, it is functional in Canada, but not fully. For example, it cannot find places or help you with making info in Canada. However, things like telling it to set an alarm or reminders and asking it to look up things and read messages, seem to work just fine. And yes, you are right, it’s not really being promoted in Canada.

    I’m sure there will be an iPhone 5 at some point, I guess it depends on whether the 4S will do the job for you or whether you prefer to wait.

  10. Iphone Bulletins | November 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I can’t wait for iPhone 5 ……

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