Apple's new iPhone 4S is just last year's design loaded with a new brain and more memory. It will run your apps faster and Apple's new iOS 5's Assistant, an artificial intelligence program that listens and interprets your orders, and a new camera.
It just looks exactly the same, but there's plenty of changes inside:
It's the same old design as the iPhone 4. Nothing to say here. Same materials, same look.
• CPU and graphics: The iPhone 4S now has the iPad 2's dual-core A5 CPU. It also has dual-core graphics, which will allow for faster and more detailed 3D. Apple claims this hardware combination makes the iPhone 4S seven times as fast as the iPhone 4 on games, and two times as fast on normal tasks.
Apple didn’t discuss the amount of RAM the 4S has, so we know it has at least the 512 that the iPhone 4 had. But we wouldn’t be shocked if Apple beefed in this area to help Siri out. When the iPad 2 came out, they quietly doubled the RAM in that as well.
• Internet speed: As rumoured, the new iPhone 4S runs on faster HSPA+ networks. That means that your telephone will download stuff faster from the internet. Before it was up to 7.2Mbps downloads. Now they claim two times as much: 14.4Mbps. This depends on the carrier, of course.
Apple claims that, in real life situations, they are fast or "faster" as the competition's phone on faster 4G networks. We will test that claim.
• New camera: There's a new camera in the iPhone 4S. Its sensor is 8MP, compared to the previous 5MP. Much better than before. The most interesting thing is the sensor, however: It's a CMOS backside illuminated sensor. Apple says that gets you 73 per cent more light than the iPhone 4 sensor. The latter was already quite impressive, so I can't wait to try this one. Apple has also remodelled the lens system, with five lens elements. They say they get now f2.4, which is very good.
The camera system is also faster than the previous version. More: What’s So Great About The iPhone’s New Camera? • New HD video: With the new sensor and new lens system, the camera now shots video at 1080p video with real-time image stabilisation and temporal noise reduction.
• Battery life: Apple claims the new processor doesn't impact the life of the battery. All the contrary. They say it will give you eight hours talking battery life with 3G networks. If you set your phone to 2G, you will get 14 hours of talk time. 3G web browsing will give you six hours of battery life, while Wi-Fi access runs up to nine hours.
Video playback sets the battery at an impressive 10 hours maximum, while music goes up to 40 hours. These numbers best the iPhone 4's previous theoretical battery life.
• New antenna design: Apple says that they have changed the antenna system, presumably to solve the signal attenuation problem. More: Apple Fixed The Antenna Problem In The iPhone 4S (Hopefully)
• Storage: The iPhone comes now with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of storage.
Siri, the Smart Assistant
Apple is also including Siri in the iPhone 4S, which will only run in this model (and presumably the iPad 2). The reason is the need for a faster A5 processor.
It can call people, play music, send and receive text messages and emails, reading them with a natural human voice or set up events and meetings, remind you of stuff... You can also dictate in any app.
But the key about Siri, according to Apple, is that it isn't just voice recognition. It really understands natural language and follows complex commands. It's conversational too, so it will reply back to you and you can reply back to it. Think Enterprise's computer vs the current crop of voice recognition software.
This thing actually seems smart, judging by the demos. It actually interprets what you are saying. You don't talk to it using commands. You just talk to it like you would talk to another person. So instead of asking "tell me the weather today" you can just say "Do I need a raincoat?" and it will reply "It sure does look like rain today!" Or if you say "Wake me up tomorrow at 6am" it will automatically set up the alarm for you. Or "hey, remind me to buy milk later" and it will remind you to buy milk as you pass near a supermarket -- yes, Siri is location aware.
Siri also pulls information from Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha to give you smart answers to your questions. You can even ask him for definitions, which Siri will read out loud.
Apple has not disclosed if Siri would be available for developers, but I don't see why not. It's only logical to expect all apps to be integrated in the assistant flow, so you can ask Siri to buy you two tickets for Avengers playing around 7 on a Sunday. That's the kind of stuff this thing seems able to do, although we would have to try it to know.
Siri will only support English, French and German in this release. Apple says that they will keep expanding the services as time goes by.
Australian Price and Availability
The iPhone 4S will be available in black and white. The 16GB model will be $799, 32GB for $899 and 64GB for $999 in Australia. An 8GB iPhone 4 will be available in black for $679.
Pre-orders start on October 8 in Australia, and ship from October 14.
iPhone 4S international availability: Initially, the iPhone 4S will only be available in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan.