The iPhone 4S Arrives: Cool New Features, Boring Old Look
Here's the rumor roundup checklist:
Well, it looks like all the predictions about the iPhone 5 were wrong. The only new iPhone Apple released at its Oct. 4, 2011, media event was the iPhone 4S, which is identical to the iPhone 4. But all the iPhone 4S predictions were completely true and spot on. Here’s the super-quick rundown on Apple’s latest iPhone.
Here’s the rumor roundup checklist:
- iPhone 4S announced, but no iPhone 5 or Steve Jobs: Sadly, this prediction was true. The iPhone 5 wasn’t even hinted at. Tim Cook took the stage with the rest of Apple’s team from WWDC 2011, but former CEO Steve Jobs was a no-show. Like the iPhone 5, Jobs wasn’t even mentioned. This is likely the first of many Steve-less events.
- iPhone 4S with A5 CPU, 8MP camera, 64GB of space, new antenna design with HSDPA+ and Sprint as a carrier: Completely upgrading the internals of the iPhone 4 to create the iPhone 4S was an impressive move on Apple’s part, especially considering how large the A5 CPU is. But it was also a smart move — during the event Apple showed a slide comparing an A5-powered iPhone 4S to the latest and greatest Android phones. In short, the iPhone 4S obliterated the competition. 64GB of space should make the biggest of data packrats happy, while the redesigned antenna with HSDPA+ should allow data junkies to download super-fast on all networks (the iPhone 4S is a ‘world phone’ now) while also avoiding any sort of antenna attenuation issues the original iPhone 4 was plagued with. Apple spent a fair amount of time on the camera, stressing that even though it is 8 megapixels, a redesigned sensor and lens offered gorgeous pictures and, now, full 1080p video recording.
- Siri Voice Assistant: When Apple purchased Siri the company in April 2010, it was assumed both the name the app would disappear. Not so. Instead of calling it Apple Assistant, Apple kept the Siri name and gave it a female voice. Siri is the crown jewel of the Apple announcement, and simply put, if you can think of something to do on your iPhone, you can tell Siri to do it for you. Ask it how the stock market is doing, whether you need a jacket when you go out, or to read that text message that just came in. Just like it was rumored, Siri is systemwide integrated, and also linked with Wolfram-Alpha. That means you can ask it for complicated computations, or obscure word definitions. For me, this is the biggest selling point of the iPhone 4S, because not only is it the coolest new feature, Siri is only available on the iPhone 4S because of its processor-intensive requirements that are only satisfied by the A5.
- iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 still live on: The iPhone 3GS is now free on contract, and the iPhone 4 is now at $99 on contract, but the iPhone 4 has been downgraded to 8GB of space to hit that price tag. Android phones beware: this is how Apple is attacking that midmarket area — and hard.
- iPod Refresh: Apple saw so much love for the iPod Nano and watch-based cases that it overhauled the Nano line with an easier-to-use interface and new watch faces. The iPod Touch line got a price drop and a new white face, just like it was rumored.
The technology behind the iPhone 4S is extremely exciting, but the innovation and product design that has always gone hand-in-hand to excite users was completely absent. Looks aren’t everything, but the breathtaking design of the rumored iPhone 5 was heavily anticipated. The absence of Steve Jobs wasn’t felt, but he was missed.
Overall, it was a low-key announcement, but as iCloud, iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S make their way into the market, it’s likely iCloud’s and Siri’s impact on the world will be the real change, and product design won’t really matter there. I still have my fingers crossed for a 2012 iPhone 5 with the rumored larger screen, but I guess we’ll all have to wait.