Months of mounting anticipation have led to this: Apple's annual iPhone unveiling. This year's announcement arrived mostly unspoiled by leaks or lost iPhone models, leading to frenzied anticipation. Would this be the year Apple launched not one but two iPhones? Would Apple finally add some real estate to its 3.5 inch screen to bring it in line with Android phones? No and no.
There is no iPhone 5--instead of being a minor iPhone 4 update hitting the $100 price point, the iPhone 4S will be Apple's lead smartphone. The $200 phone makes the jump to dual-core processing with the A5, ups its graphics performance and makes the already impressive iPhone 4 camera even better with an 8 megapixel sensor. And yes: it's a dual-mode phone headed to Verizon, Sprint and AT&T on October 14.
Read on for everything you need to know about the iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 4S is a dead ringer for 2010's iPhone 4, but Apple's ripped out its innards and replaced them with refreshed hardware. Processor and GPU each bounded forward into dual-core territory. As expected, the phone adopted the A5 ARM CPU that's been powering the iPad 2 all year long. The GPU has seen its own substantial upgrade to a dual-core chip that Apple says will deliver up to seven times the performance of last year's graphics processor.
Does that mean all games will run seven times as quickly? Not likely--but some games, like Epic's newly announced Infinity Blade sequel, will use the extra GPU muscle for fancy graphical effects. Apple promises battery life will still be competitive with 8 hours of 3G talk time, 9 hours of Wi-Fi browsing or 10 hours of video.
Building on the foundation of the CDMA iPhone 4 launched on Verizon in early 2011, the iPhone 4S chipset now allows for the phone to function on both GSM and CDMA networks. Apple's made its first worldphone, and the phone uses a dual-antenna design to bulk up call stability.
The camera has been significantly revamped. Instead of jumping up to an 8MP resolution and calling it a day, Apple went with a backlight-illuminated sensor that captures 73 percent more light. The five lens element, f2.4 aperture camera takes 30 percent sharper photos more quickly than last year's camera. Part of that's do to improvements on the software side: the camera now takes 1.1 seconds to snap its first picture. 1080p video shooting is also in, with real time video image stabilization and real time temporal noise reduction.
Apple hasn't jumped on board with true 4G LTE, but download speeds on the new phone should be faster, with theoretical max downloads at 14.4Mbps with an HSDPA data connection. Sprint and Verizon won't be so lucky with EV-DO data, but they'll both be getting the iPhone 4S. The 16GB model will launch at $200, as usual. 32GB and 64GB models will be available for $299 and $399. Pre-orders start this Friday, October 7--phones go on sale next Friday on October 14.
The iPhone 4 has been bumped down to $99, while the iPhone 3GS is sticking around at the bargain price of $0. On contract, of course.