iPhone 4S is same on the outside, 'all new' on the inside

Summary:The next version of the iPhone is finally here, and much of it is what we expected.

After a much longer wait than normal, Apple introduced the latest generation of its iPhone at its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters on Tuesday.

See also: CNET's Buzz Out Loud live blog of the iPhone 5 announcement Apple: iMac, MacBook Pro are best-selling desktop, notebook in U.S. iOS 5 will officially land on October 12; more details revealed Apple's Cook: iPad is 'undisputed' top tablet worldwide iPod touch, iPod nano fall behind flickering shadow of iPhone 4S Apple's iPhone 4S is swell, but pricing is the real killer app

At first glance, this is exactly what happened with the iPhone 3 and 3GS. Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller acknowledged during the announcement that it looks the same from the outside with the Retina Display and the glass exterior, but that the inside is "all new."

The iPhone 4S is touted as twice as fast as the iPhone 4 with an A5 chip (as seen in the iPad 2) and dual-core graphics, which should be seven times faster than the previous generation as well.

Apple demonstrated the advanced graphics with a preview of Infinity Blade II, which will be available on December 1st in the iTunes App Store.

With those more efficient dual-core graphics, here's a glance at the battery life:

  • 3G Talk Time: 8 hours
  • 2G Talk Time: 14 hours
  • 3G Browsing: 6 hours
  • Wi-Fi Browsing: 9 hours
  • Video: 10 hours
  • Music: 14 hours

Download speeds are also touted as twice as fast as the iPhone 4 with a new rate of 14.4Mbps versus 7.2Mbps on the last generation.

One of the biggest internal change that was arguably required was the antenna design, which Schiller described as it "intelligently switches between two antennas to receive and send." Alright...

You can also dismiss dreams of 4G speeds on this model, but Apple packed in something that is almost as sweet as the iPhone 4S is world phone (both GSM and CDMA), which will definitely please frequent travelers for pleasure and business alike.

Schiller then moved on to the camera, which is getting a serious revamp. The iPhone 4 was the biggest improvement for Apple when it came to cameras on its mobile devices when it finally stepped up the sensor, but the iPhone 4S could really step in for a point-and-shoot. This isn't so much of an improved smartphone camera as a new one altogether.

The iPhone 4S camera is finally catching up to other Nokia and Android devices with an 8-megapixel, backside illuminated CMOS sensor (3,264 x 2,448 resolution), 60 percent more pixels, and it snaps photos a third quicker than before.

Taking advantage of the A5 chip, the iPhone 4S rear camera also features Image Signal Processor that Apple designed, which enables face detection, 26 percent better white balance, and an IR filter. Of course, there's also 1080p HD video recording, now with video image stabilization and temporal noise reduction.

Schiller went so far as to claim that many customers will consider this "the best still camera they've ever owned," which for people who are not obsessed with gadgetry or are quite young, then yes, that might be true.

Moving on to voice recognition, Apple is making use of its Siri acquisition as the improved software is described as "your intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking." Basically, you can ask what the weather is going to be like today, and it should tell you the right answer as well as bring up some graphics and info on the display as well.

It doesn't sound that revolutionary until you get to the point where it can you set reminders and appointments via voice, and Siri is supposed to respond to and use more human-like, natural language. However, it's still only in beta demo mode, but it will be supported by the iPhone 4S over Wi-Fi and even 3G. Siri will initially support English, French and German. More languages will be added down the road.

As soon as the iPhone 4S was announced, participants in CNET's live chat were immediately revealing their disappointment, saying they were "iRobbed."

Apple has added a new capacity option for the first time, and all of these will be available in black and white:

  • 16GB for $199
  • 32GB for $299
  • 64GB for $399

Note that those prices require a two-year contract with the carrier you select. Hopefully the white version will actually show up on time this year.

Pre-orders start this Friday, October 7th. It will land first in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, and Japan a week later on October 14th. On October 28, the launch will continue in 22 more countries, with 70 countries total by the end of the year on more than 100 carriers, making it the fastest iPhone rollout ever.

As rumored, the iPhone 4S will be available with three carriers this time around: AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. T-Mobile has been left out in the cold, although it might not be for long if AT&T wins its bid.

The old iPhone 4 will stick around with 8GB for $99 (on contract), and the 8GB 3GS will be absolutely free on contract.

Related:

Topics: iPhone, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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