Why did Apple call this one a 4S, and not the much-anticipated iPhone 5? Some were disappointed, feeling the 4S is not so new and improved as they’d hoped, and Apple’s share price even dropped a little. The good news is that with Apple releasing the iPhone 4S on contract, the iPhone 4 should become a lot more affordable and the 3GS will be available for free on many phone contracts.
Still, there were a couple of good reasons for naming it the 4S. Firstly, Apple does have a reputation for honesty and integrity, and wants to maintain that positive reputation. So, the new model number will be reserved for the genuinely next generation of iPhones, which means a full-blown 4G-capable smartphone, rather than a hodgepodge of 3G and 4G chips. Plus, naming the new version 4S means that the iPhone 4 can be repurposed as a budget-level device, but still at least theoretically a part of the current generation of top-of-the-range smartphones. It even allows the 3GS to seem to stay reasonably commercially viable, since it’s only one generation worse than the top of the range iPhone 4S. It makes good business sense for Apple to finally be addressing the budget end of the market, rather than continuing to assume that its products are so good, so unique, that people will always pay a premium price for them.
So what do you get if you are happy to pay the premium price, to snag the very latest model? Well, what you won’t get is a restyled phone – the 4S looks exactly the same as the iPhone 4 on the outside. What you will get is improvements in almost every other area, though. As Mark Hirst, Managing Director of Best Mobile Contracts has said: “The improved specs, including the A5 dual core processor, and 8 megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording make the iPhone 4S a welcome addition to the iPhone family.”
This is a much faster iPhone than ever before, with a dual-core 1 GHz processor offering twice the processing speed of the iPhone 4. In fact, the processor is the same A5 processor found previously in the iPad 2, somehow squeezed into the much smaller device. The graphics card is even more nifty, being seven times as fast as that of the 4, which further paves the way for a major upgrade of the iPhone camera.
The new camera offers a full 8 megapixels, compared to the iPhone 4’s 5Mp camera. Megapixels aren’t everything, but the new camera delivers in every other respect, too, finally putting paid to the concept that the camera was the iPhone’s weak spot. It has a much-improved image processor, a back-illumination sensor for improved low-light photography, amazing colours, and a new face-recognition feature. Overall, it’s as good as almost any standalone compact digital camera on the market, a significant achievement. The only real drawback to it is that there’s still no optical zoom function.
In video camera mode, you can now shoot 1080p HD movies, another notable improvement on the iPhone 4’s 720p HD. Image stabilisation software lets you get a professional look even in tricky conditions, so your home movies no longer have to look like the Blair Witch Project.
Many people have already blogged about the amazing Siri virtual assistant, now an iPhone 4S exclusive. Less flashy, but probably just as useful to most phone buyers, are the leaps forward in battery and antenna technology. Improvements in battery life now allow for up to 8 hours’ talk time or 40 hours’ music playback, while the antenna boasts significantly improved download speeds and more reliability.