iPhone 4S Coming October 14

The iPhone 4S was officially revealed today in Cupertino, along with iOS 5. Though it looks like the iPhone 4, there have been some important features added, bringing the iPhone up to par with its Android competition in some respects, while maintaining the general Apple look and feel so many know and love. Throughout the announcement, I couldn’t help but think about how Android phones already have a lot of these features. Here are the specs:

  • 3.5″ Retina display, 960×640 resolution (326ppi)
  • 1GHz dual core ARM-Cortex A9 processor
  • Apple A5 chip (like iPad 2)
  • 8MP rear facing camera with LED Flash and Face Detection
  • VGA front facing camera, 30 fps video
  • UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
    GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz)
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)
  • Bluetooth 4.0

An 8MP camera, finally. Apple has had nice cameras in the past, but lingered for years without an 8MP camera. With an LED flash, face detection, image stabilization, and 1080p video recording, Apple finally caught up to Android in camera specs. Sony in particular has had all but the 1080p for a couple of years now, and tacked on smile detection too.

Of note is that there will be a single iPhone 4S phone, across carriers and world-wide. It has both CDMA and GSM antennas, making it suitable for AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in the US, and the GSM networks in Europe. T-Mobile has been left out of this round. AT&T will reportedly get the fastest speeds with the HSPA+ network, and Sprint has committed to unlimited data plans for the iPhone. The iPhone 4 is also coming to Sprint.

Apple offers iCloud synchronization, so you can access all your content on any of your Apple devices automatically. Think of the Amazon Kindle’s Whispersync. This is a helpful feature, especially for those with both an iPhone and an iPad.

Though iOS 5 is coming to the original iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS, the OS’s main attraction will only be available on the iPhone 4S. Siri was an app in the Apple app store. It is now a pretty attractive feature in the iPhone, and has been removed from the store. Siri allows you to speak conversationally into your phone to make things happen. You can send text messages, e-mails, check show times, weather, and more, simply by talking to your phone. If you’ve used Android at all the last couple of years you may be familiar with this concept. Vlingo had a popular Android App, and then Google introduced Voice Actions. With Voice Actions you can also access Google’s free Navigation software on top of the features you get with Siri. Apple did upgrade the service a bit, which is good. You can ask questions with nuances that other programs might miss, such as asking about whether or not you need an umbrella and getting the weather report. Apple has raised the bar a bit on voice features, so it will be interesting to see how Android responds. The customers end up winning in this particular aspect because the feature is pretty cool on both systems.

Another feature highlighted today was iMessage. You can chat with other iOS users and keep the conversation going across devices. Again, this is already possible on Android, and includes the Chrome browser as well, specifically with Google Talk. Apple took it even further with GPS-based friend location, called Find My Friends. This works like Google Latitude, and you can see your friends on a map, assuming they opted in to the service and have allowed their location to be known.

I think the best features announced today were the camera and Siri. Other than that, think of the iPhone 4S as an upgrade to the iPhone 4. Though many were disappointed with this launch, there is nothing wrong with upgrading the phone without calling it the iPhone 5. There were plenty of new apps and features added to make it a significantly better phone than its predecessor.

The iPhone 4S will be available for pre-order on October 7, and will be available October 14. There are three versions available, subsidized by Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T. You can get a 16GB phone for $199, 32GB for $299, and 64GB for $399. Yes, I said these were subsidized prices. Meanwhile, the iPhone 4 (8GB) will drop to $99, and the 3GS (8GB) can be picked up for free.

Check out all the new features at apple.com/iphone.

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