As the glitter settles on Apple’s star-spangled iPhone 4S announcement, it’s time to open up the 4S and take a look under the bonnet. Set for a simultaneous US and UK release on 14 October, the iPhone 4S will be priced at £499 for the 16GB version, with other pricing still to come.
Apple A5 Processor
While it’s been shoved out of the spotlight by the Siri voice recognition system, the improved Apple A5 processor is probably the most meaningful, nuts and bolts change on the iPhone 4S.
The A5 is the same chip that powers the iPad 2 and its dual core processor promises 1GHz clock speed. According to Apple, the A5 will – along with an increased 1GB of Ram– make the 4S twice as fast as the iPhone 4, perfect for running multiple applications and high-end graphics.
8 Megapixel camera
With the iPhone 4 featuring a decidedly meek 5Mp camera, the 8Mp camera packed inside the 4S is the headline grabbing improvement – but there are also some other fairly decent tweaks. The camera will snap pictures a third quicker, has better filters for white balance and colour and an increased aperture which should improve capture in poor lighting conditions.
It all sounds a bit geeky but the sample photos Apple waved around at the launch were genuinely impressive for a camera phone.
Improved battery life
Yes, it’s better but it’s hardly impressive. The short battery life on the iPhone 4 of 7hrs talk time on 3G – in factory conditions – has long been a grumble among users. So the 8hrs of 3G talk time offered by the iPhone 4S can still be considered a little disappointing.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that the iPhone 4S also has a number of features – such as Siri – that could be potential power hogs. Day-to-day use may prove to actually offer less battery life.
iOS 5 operating system
Apple made a big song and dance about its iOS 5 operating system at the launch event and it does look like it’s well worth a Tango or two. Of the 200 improvements to the iOS the stand outs are iCloud wireless synching, an iMessage system that let’s you text other iPhone users for free, and an improved Safari web browser that brings better navigation and faster loading times.
All good stuff; but you won’t actually need to upgrade to an iPhone 4S to get iOS 5. Owners of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS will all be able to get the new operating system for their phones.
Siri voice recognition
The blockbuster announcement of last night and the feature that Apple hopes is going to propel the iPhone 4S to world domination was Siri. Essentially a voice recognition system, Siri can operate most features on your phone by voice command.
For example, Siri can Google a search for you and read back the results – ask her where the best pizza place is in Plymouth and she’ll tell you the best rated. You can also use Siri to set your alarm and schedule a meeting or find and call a number or write and send an email.
Perhaps most intriguingly – or worryingly if you’ve seen Terminator and are familiar with Skynet – Siri will also remember and build on responses, placing your questions in context. In theory, Siri could be revolutionary but it very much depends how the system works in practice. You will need to upgrade to the iPhone 4s to play with this as it’s an exclusive.
That’s it. We won’t be making any snap decisions until we put the iPhone 4S through a rigorous work out in our lab; but that is what has been promised so far. What do think? Is it worth spending the money to upgrade?