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Apple launches iPhone 4S

There's no iPhone 5, disappointing many, but Apple gives us the iPhone 4S.

Apple

As rumoured, Apple today launched the iPhone 4S, featuring the same design as the iPhone 4 but with a new A5 processor.

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, took to the stage to introduce the new device, which comes with a retina display and dual core graphics. Schiller claimed the graphics can be up to seven times faster than in the previous iPhone.

"That's just killer," Schiller said during Apple's special event in Cupertino, where it also announced iOS 5 and the iCloud would be dropping on 12 October.

What we think...

The iPhone 4S isn't radical enough to be called the iPhone 5, but it's a compelling upgrade, especially for switchers and owners of the older iPhone 3GS.

The Siri natural language voice control and dictation system looks impressive and is highly likely to be exclusive to the iPhone 4S and its faster, dual core A5 processor an example of Apple's tight hardware-software integration.

For iPhone 4 users, deciding on upgrading will be trickier and largely dependent on how much you'll use it, whether it's a SIM-free purchase, or if it's just a contract upgrade.

Alan Lu, Reviews Editor

Apple made some serious announcements around battery life too. The iPhone 4S can take eight hours of talk time, six hours of 3G browsing, nine hours of Wi-Fi browsing, Apple claimed.

Features

As rumoured, the Siri app has been fully integrated, giving the iPhone 4S proper voice control capabilities. All users have to do is hold down the home button and start making noises. Apple gave an example of asking for the weather forecast.

"Siri is your intelligent assistant and helps you get things done, just by asking," said Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone software at Apple.

Other uses for Siri included dictation and search.

Apple has sought to address antenna issues too, by letting users switch between two for send and receive.

The iPhone 4S also has both GSM and CDMA, making it a "a world phone," Schiller said.

Camera improvements over the iPhone 4 have been made as well, with an 8MP sensor and 60 per cent more pixels with a 3264 x 2448 resolution, as well as enhanced face detection.

Siri is your intelligent assistant and helps you get things done.

"We didn't want to make this better than other phones, we wanted to make it better than point and shoot cameras," Schiller said.

"This new sensor allows us to gather 73 per cent more light than the previous model."

Furthermore, HD video recording on the iPhone 4S comes in at 1080p.

Greater integration with AirPlay means everything from the iPhone screen can appear on TV via Apple TV or an HDMI cable.

When? Where? How much?

The iPhone 4S pre-orders start on the 7 October before the device is released a week later.

It will come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. It will also come in black and white, and will come with the same pricing as the iPhone 4 does right now.

The 3GS will still be sold and will now be free on contract. The iPhone 4 will soon only be available in the 8GB model at a reduced price.

Reaction

Initial reaction to the iPhone 4S has been mixed, with Simon Bulleyment, CIO of accounting firm haysmacintyre, tweeting: "Feeling slightly underwhelmed by iPhone 4S."

The power enhancements have impressed some onlookers, but developers may be concerned.

"Apple developers will have an interesting time with that A5 and still make stuff work on iPhone 4," tweeted Gartner's Michael Gartenrberg.

"I'd call today's Apple news evolutionary with revolutionary features," he added later.

The overriding feeling appeared to be one of disappointment, however, as no iPhone 5 emerged as many had expected.

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