Apple announces iPhone 4S

Apple has this morning taken the covers off of the latest addition to the iPhone family, the iPhone 4S, announcing plans to bring it to Australia from 14 October.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor and  Luke Hopewell, Contributor

Apple has this morning taken the covers off of the latest addition to the iPhone family, the iPhone 4S, announcing plans to bring it to Australia from 14 October.

iPhone 4S

(Credit: Apple)

Announced this morning from its Cupertino, California campus, the iPhone 4S will have exactly the same design as the iPhone 4 released last year. The device, however, will sport all new internals including an A5 processor, 8-megapixel camera with support for 1080p HD video capture, 14.4Mbps download speeds, a dual-antenna design and a new 64GB storage capacity. The device will also come with an "artificial intelligence", voice recognition capability called Siri.

The device will come to Australia on 14 October and Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have already told ZDNet Australia that they will carry the device. None of them have yet provided pricing, although Vodafone said more details would come later today and Optus said it would provide more details "within days".

Apple lists the iPhone 4S on its Australian website from $799 unlocked: $799 for the 16GB model, $899 for the 32GB model and $999 for the 64GB model. It also announces continued availability of the iPhone 4 8GB model for $679 and the iPhone 3GS 8GB model for $449.

Pre-orders start on 7 October. They open first for the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, France and Germany, with Japan coming a week later on 14 October. On 28 October, 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 roll-out ever.

Rumours had pegged Apple to release two new iPhones today, namely an iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S, but the Cupertino-based company opted for an incremental update to its existing device line, rather than a wholly new piece of hardware.

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 1 December in the iTunes App Store.

With those more efficient dual-core graphics, users can expect to get eight hours of 3G talk time, six hours of 3G web browsing, 10 hours of video playback or 14 hours of music playback.

Download speeds are also touted to be 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 changes that was arguably required was the antenna design. Schiller said the device "intelligently switches between two antennas to receive and send". Apple came under fire for the original antenna in the iPhone 4 which saw signal strength disappear when a user held it in a certain way. Dubbed "antennagate", Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs fronted the world to address the problem months after the device's release.

You can also dismiss dreams of 4G Long Term Evolution speeds on the new model, but Apple packed in something that is almost as sweet as the iPhone 4S: world phone (both GSM and CDMA), which will definitely please frequent travellers for pleasure and business alike. Australia is without a CDMA network, however, after Telstra switched it off in 2008 in favour of the Next G network.

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 (3264x2448 resolution), 60 per cent 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 per cent better white balance and an IR filter. Of course, there's also 1080p HD video recording, now with video image stabilisation 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".

In the voice recognition space, 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 you can 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. Apple also included references to Australia on its language support slide.

Apple has added a new capacity option for the first time, and all of these will be available in black and white. The iPhone 4S will come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions.

Apple also announced this morning that iOS 5, the latest update to Apple's mobile software platform, will ship out to users for free from 12 October, two days before the launch of the new iPhone 4S.

Via ZDNet US

Editorial standards