A casually clad CEO, a hand-picked captive audience and lengthy self-congratulations before showing off a few new devices…yesterday’s announcement certainly captured some of the essence of an epic Apple reveal, but the new Apple iPhone 4S has truly divided early opinion.
The Apple iPhone 4S (due on the 14th of October) is not the iPhone 5, but once again Apple never acknowledged the maelstrom of rumours that always surrounds their gadget launches, and the blogosphere simply whipped itself into a frenzy of hype…one that perhaps the Cupertino company could never have lived up to.
Extremely high levels secrecy and a desire to control every aspect of the unveiling has only seen intrepid bloggers and journalists become more creative in an effort to leak the year’s biggest tech story…
First things first, the iPhone 4S is a dramatically different smartphone underneath the overly familiar shell, updates include a new A5 dual-core processor (currently starring in the Apple iPad 2), a camera sporting an 8-megapixel lens – also with the ability to film video in 1080p – and an ‘intelligent assistant’ in the form of voice-driven application Siri, all making for an improved handset in the arena that it current shines brightest – user features and functions.
The fact that it looks near identical is unavoidable. Placing the handsets side-by-side makes the 4S a tough sell over its precursor at face value, as does the incremental naming change – seemingly a bunny-hop rather than the hardware leap between the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4, and at a standstill in aesthetic terms.
The marvel is what they’ve managed to contain in the same package. An improved battery life, touting 8 hours of 3G talktime and 40 as a mobile music player. The ability to download data at 4G speeds (as long as the network supports it) is another string in its next-gen bow.
An all-new pair of antennas (hopefully less error-prone!) enables the iPhone 4S to act as a ‘world phone’, operating on both GSM and CDMA networks – perhaps a bullet-point more for those on the other side of the pond, but still impressive.
Feature fiends may claim that many of these specifications have already debuted on Android handsets from the likes of HTC and Samsung, also touting larger displays and more affordable price-points – an incredibly valid point.
However, even though the Nokia N95 won the tale of the tape against the original Apple iPhone, we all know how that story turned out…and it’s important to note that the iPhone 3GS hasn’t quite been put out to pasture just yet, enabling some real mid-range options for price-conscious shoppers.
Consumers are all about the user experience, and the iPhone 4S continues the intuitive touchscreen experience Apple’s devices have become famous for, replete with flourishes of the new iOS 5 software (due to arrive on iThings from the 3GS upward on the 12th of October).
iOS 5 upgrades include a notification centre which is home to the latest events on your device (shades of Android…), free texts to iPod, iPad and other iPhone users with iMessage (more than a little of the BlackBerry Messenger in there) and the ability to finally sever the iPhone’s constant need to connect to a computer with wireless updates as well as data storage on the new web-based iCloud service.
Perhaps some of these ideas were cribbed from the competition, but the enduring march of the Android phones helped Apple realise the iPhone was far from operating in a vacuum, and needed to step up in a few key areas, which they have done.
Much time during the announcement was spent explaining the improvements in image fidelity from the camera’s new 8-megapixel lens, as well as the graphical grunt and ’7x’ improved gaming experiences that the A5 chip will deliver, proving to many that hardware steps had indeed been taken.
Needless to say, Gears of War developer Epic’s Infinity Blade II more than served its purpose as technical showcase, much as the original title did for the iPhone 4 (had to chuckle at the ‘RIP battery life’ comment on YouTube though!).
This portion seemed to serve as Apple’s most overt rebuttal, which smacked of ‘we know the 4S doesn’t look different, but trust us that there’s a lot more going on here’.
As for what the world has in store with voice-driven mobile marvel Siri…well, I went into a bit of detail on that exciting bit of tech on the uSwitch Tech site, alongside constantly pressing F5 in an eternal quest for Apple iPhone 4S deals.
As stale as the ‘evolution, not revolution’ line might be – aside from the gear change from the 3GS to 4 – that seems to have been the mantra that Apple has stuck to for the iPhone since the original device back in 2007.
So maybe we shouldn’t be too disappointed with another ‘S’ model…and Siri truly has the potential to change the way we use all technology, not just mobiles. Check it out.
But I still want my iPhone 5.