Apple beefs up the insides of iPhone 4S - and cuts prices of older iPhones...
Apple has ended months of speculation about the shape of its next iPhone, unveiling the iPhone 4S at an event at its Cupertino HQ in California.
Apple said the iPhone 4S will be released on 14 October in the UK and the US, along with Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan - with availability ramping up to 70 countries by the end of the year. The iPhone 4S will be offered in 16, 32 and 64GB sizes.
The iPhone-maker did not announce an iPhone 5, as widely expected, and will continue to sell both the iPhone 4 and 3GS.
In a stats-filled presentation, Apple CEO Tim Cook, who recently took the reins from Steve Jobs, revealed there are now 500,000 apps on Apple's App Store, including 140,000 for its iPad tablet.
The all-new iPhone 4S shares the look of the iPhone 4 but has a beefed up chip for faster graphics and processing, a better camera and the antenna has been tweaked - to improve signal on voice calls and doubtless solve signal issues with the original design of the antenna.
The iPhone 4S is also dual-band - with both GSM and CDMA radios inside - and includes a voice-based interface which enables iPhone users to ask their device questions such as 'what's the weather like in London?'. This system, named Siri after the app of the same name Apple acquired last year, will then fetch the requested data and respond verbally. The Siri voice assistant can also schedule appointments and send text messages on command. English, French and German are the only supported languages at present and the app is beta only.
Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller, described the new iPhone as "entirely new on the inside". The iPhone 4S has an Apple A5 dual-core processor - enabling up to 2x faster CPU and up to 7x faster graphics.
Despite beefed up innards, Apple claimed the battery life of the iPhone 4S has not suffered - with up to eight hours of talk time, six hours of 3G browsing and nine hours of wi-fi browsing.
The iPhone 4S also has an eight megapixel camera and supports HD video recording at 1080p.
Apple also announced that iOS 5 - the latest iteration of its mobile OS - will be released on 12 October as a free over-the-air update for iPhone 4 and 3GS owners. iCloud, its new cloud services offering, will also be launched on 12 October.
Cook noted that Apple has a just five per cent share of the "overall market" in mobile handsets (i.e. both feature phones and smartphones) - describing this as: "an enormous opportunity for us".
This "opportunity" surely lies behind the pricing of the older iPhone models: Apple announced the iPhone 4 will get a price cut to $99 and the iPhone 3GS becomes free on contract - as Apple seeks to push deeper into the mass market, as well as owning the high end of smartphones.