As expected, Apple unveiled its new iPhone 4S at its media event this afternoon. It’s available for pre-order on October 7th, and will begin shipping on October 14th. Availability on the 14th will be restricted to the US, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany and Japan. Twenty two more countries will get the phone by the 28th, and 70 by the end of the year. The 4S will be available on Sprint, AT&T and Verizon networks in the US. Contrary to rumors that indicated a complete overhaul of the phone, the 4S is a predictable progression from the iPhone 4.
 
It uses the same Apple A5 SoC as the iPad 2 (though, as usual, Apple didn’t reveal its clock speed or the amount of on-board RAM) and is now universally compatible with CDMA and GSM networks (making it a "world phone), but is visually similar to the iPhone 4 and uses the same 3.5” 640x960 “Retina Display” as its predecessor. It will be available in 16GB ($199), 32GB ($299), and 64GB ($399) capacities in both black and white with a 2-year contract. The iPhone 4 will remain as an 8GB phone for $99, while the 3GS will also stick around for free with contract.
 
Antenna diversity, a feature originally introduced in the CDMA iPhone 4, is now standard on all models of the iPhone 4S. As we found in our review of the Verizon iPhone 4, antenna diversity fixes the infamous antenna issue with the iPhone 4's design. The wireless stack has been upgraded to support HSPA+ 14.4, likely courtesy of Qualcomm's MDM6600.
 
As was widely predicted, the iPhone 4S sports a new 8MP camera sensor with a five element f2.4 lens. The new lens is apparently 30% sharper than the previous iteration. The camera subsystem itself supposedly has better color accuracy and more color uniformity. Apple talked about their custom designed Image Signal Processor (ISP) on the A5 SoC, however previous versions were also Apple designed. Apple claims 1.1 seconds to the first photo and 0.5 second shot-to-shot latency on the iPhone 4S. The camera can now shoot 1080p video due to the ISP upgrades in the A5 SoC. 
 
Wireless display mirroring via AirPlay is also supported on the iPhone 4S.
 
The new iPhone will debut with iOS 5, which will also be available to users of older devices on October 12. Exclusive to the new iPhone is iOS 5’s Siri voice assistant, which promises to bring new precision and utility to voice commands on the phone. The iPhone 4S with Siri will be able to understand natural language requests (e.g. "Wake me up tomorrow at 6AM) and act accordingly (e.g. create an alarm for 6AM tomorrow). 

Expect a full review from us as soon as possible, and in the meantime you can always re-read our in-depth iPhone 4 review to get a better idea of what has changed since last summer.
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  • Donkey2008 - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    Too bad the Android app selection is not up to par with their hardware. It really doesn't make sense to brag about owning a Ferrari when all you have are dirt roads to drive on. Just sayin. Reply
  • B-Unit1701 - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    "Android has already had voice control for a couple months..."

    More like a year. Google rolled out voice control for Android last summer.
    Reply
  • inspire - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    No reason to downclock to 800 MHz.

    I've heard 2 seconds to first picture and 1 second between shots on the SG2, and the 4S seems to have decent low-light performance, too.

    I don't suppose you saw the Inifinity Blade 2 live demo, but it was impressive. Haven't seen something like that for the Adreno. If Adreno is better, I don't think I'd be able to notice it over the 4S.

    Natural voice recognition is a different beast from the normal stuff, and integrating the geofences looks nice.

    Personally, I like phones witha smaller form factor, so the screen size isn't a huge turn-off.

    Like I said, I've been on webOS for nearly two years. Going into today, I liked the SG2, and I still feel it's a good phone, but for the same money, I'm leaning towards the 4S.

    The thought of not bothering to bring my 8 MP Canon to every event that I wear a tie to is nice. Being able to voice control all those core fetaures in natural language is great for when I'm on the road.

    It may not be revolutionary, but it's pretty damned solid, and every feature demo'd today was like they had been reading my mind for the past two years.
    Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    iPhone camera (or any phone camera) does NOT equal the quality of a real camera, I don't care what reality distortion Apple tries or how many lenses they cram in the 8 mm body. Front lit, back lit, 8 MP, 20 MP, it's all terrible compared to a real camera, primarily because the sensor is so small. The camera in a phone is probably the least important part in my opinion. I'd rather them put the time and effort into every other aspect of the phone's design.

    The iPhone may be one of the most used cameras... but that's because most people couldn't care less about image quality or just don't know better.

    The only legit reason for buying an iPhone is because you like iOS and/or your tied (trapped?) into Apple's ecosystem. And even then your looking at paying more for hardware, apps, and system updates. I've owned an android phone for almost 2 years and I've spent less than $10 on apps (and no I haven't pirated anything). Everytime I try to get an app for my girlfriend's iTouch I have to put money down, pretty lame. Admittedly, there are pro and cons there, like free app vs paid app quality. But for the popular apps, you are getting the same app on android for free.

    Also,don't forget that Ice Cream Sandwich is being released on the 11th. iOS5 might look shiny and new now, but let's see what Google comes up with.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - link

    I wonder how fast the iPhone 4S's graphics chip will be in comparison to the iPad. They said dual core graphics like the iPad, but they don't say what chip. They said 7x the performance of the iPhone 4, not 9x like the iPad. So I wonder if it just uses a down clocked 543MP2, or something else. I'm sure AT can find out :) Reply
  • Andy the Engineer - Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - link

    Andrew C,
    Your antenna diversity comment is absurd. If you have professional test and measurement equipment you would know the iPhone 4S has a totally redesigned antenna system. On the outside it may appear simlar, but works differently. Apple redesigned it because it did have a flaw on ALL versions of the iPhone 4. Apple would not have spent lots and lots of $$$$$$ to "improve" the antenna system if there wasnt a problem.... You are a disgrace to engineers. If you have a degree, get your money back. If not, leave testing to the professionals.
    Reply

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