Apple has announced the iPhone 4S, the newborn 2011 member of the iPhone family. It may not be a revolution, with the same basic look as the iPhone 4. But, needless to say – we want one. It offers an 8-megapixel camera, dual-core A5 processor, 16/32/64GB internal memory and iOS 5.
For the first time in iPhone history, it was CEO Tim Cook who opened this year’s iPhone conference – previous Apple overlord Steve Jobs having resigned from the position in August due to health issues. It was also he who unveiled the iPhone 4S. This replaces the iPhone 4 as the top model in the series, nudging down the previous flagship into the budget slot – and the iPhone 3GS much closer to the tech graveyard.
iPhone 4S - looks a lot like the iPhone 4
The iPhone 4S uses the A5 processor seen in the iPad 2. It’s a dual-core model – isn’t everything these days – and is clocked at 1GHz if it is to follow the iPad's lead. In pure spec terms this will lag behind the upcoming Google Nexus Prime, with its reported dual-core 1.5GHz processor, but is far more powerful than the previous iPhone 4 model.
The camera has also been given a thorough re-vamp. Gone is the 5-megapixel model, replaced with an 8-megapixel f/2.4 sensor. New image processing tech has been packed into the device, promising “26 per cent” better white balance performance, 1.1 sec to-first-shot speed and darn good sharpness and colour reproduction. The flash remains a single-LED model. Video capture now goes up to 1080p resolution thanks to the dual-core processor, and image stabilisation and noise reduction is included.
Apple was keen to stress the gaming potential of the new handset, and showed-off Epic Games’s Infinity Blade II during the phone's presentation, which Epic claims uses some similar graphical techniques to God of War 3 – on PS3, not PSP. In spite of the power increase, Apple claims battery life is also improved. The iPhone 4S will apparently last for eight hours of talk time, 10 hours of video playback and six hours’ web browsing on 3G or nine on Wi-Fi. We’ll test these claims when we get a handset in to review.
With HSPA on-board, the potential speed of the iPhone 4S’s mobile internet connection has also increased, up to 14.4Mbps from the iPhone 4’s 7.2Mbps. Apple claims this is on-par with “4G” Android phones like the Motorola Atrix 4G. Of course, in the UK we’ll probably be limited to around 2Meg if we’re lucky, given how crowded networks’ connections are.
Of equally limited import to us UK folk, the iPhone 4S combines GSM and CDMA network compatibility, so won’t require a separate hardware iteration for the US’s CDMA carriers. It’s not a huge selling point for us, but if you have more air miles than pennies in your bank account, it might count for a lot.
Best of all, the iPhone 4's antenna problems - those that caused the infamous "antennagate" of last year - have been fixed. The phone now uses dual antennas to ensure more consistent phone reception. Hurrah!
The Apple iPhone 4S will cost an arm, a leg and a good chunk of your sense of individuality, but it doesn’t half sound like a stonkingly good phone, even if Apple’s claim that it’s “entirely new” doesn’t quite ring true after the revolution that was the iPhone 4.