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Announcement of iPhone 4S

The announcement of Apple's iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011.

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Full of fluff and hyperbole

  • Oct 5, 2011
  • by
Not going to lie -- I'm slightly disappointed by Apple's "Let's Talk iPhone" keynote yesterday.  After keeping us waiting since June of last year, I expected more out of the latest iPhone.  For the last three generations of iPhone, they came out with a new one about every 12 months and the successors were all very impressive compared to the former model.  So if they're make people wait an extra four months, it better be good.  Amazing.  Out of this world.  Game-changing.  All that good stuff.  Unfortunately, the announcement left many feeling underwhelmed.

Like many devoted Apple or iPhone fan, I've been (not so) patiently waiting for news of the fifth generation iPhone.  I've been so ready to upgrade.  When Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO two months ago, however, I thought it would be a long while before the next iPhone would be released.  My thought was that if there was an iPhone to be unveiled, surely Steve Jobs would at least announce that as a parting gift his fans.  So when it was announced that Apple would be having their "Let's Talk iPhone" keynote yesterday, I set aside my morning to watch the announcement unfold on Engadget's live blog (they didn't allow video streaming this time).

The keynote started off with a lot of build up about how awesome Apple is.  There was talk of how successful they've been and they threw out a ton of stats while discussing the success and adoption of iPod, iPod Nano, Lion iOS, iPad, iOS 5, etc, etc.  They also threw around a lot of words like, "fast" and "amazing" and "gorgeous", etc.  They spoke about that for an entire hour before finally getting to the iPhone.  The good stuff, and what we've all been waiting for.

Here are the most significant updates that were announced for the iPhone 4S (yup -- a 4S, not a 5), and you can see the phone in action in this video:

A5 Chip
This is also the chip that's inside of the iPad 2.  This hardware will make the iPhone run much, much faster all around than the iPhone 4, whether it's pulling up apps, taking pictures, or surfing the web on Safari.  To be more exact, twice as a fast, and graphics load 7x as fast, making activities like game play amazing.


As a photography enthusiast, this one had me mega juiced when they announced it.  Here are the stats:
  • 8 megapixel and can take 3264 x 2448 photos -- 60% more pixels
  • Backside illumination -- brings in 73% more light
  • Takes the first photo in just 1.1 seconds and the second in half a second -- 33% faster
  • IR filter -- for better color accuracy and uniformity
  • Five element lens -- that's an extra lens compared to iPhone 4 -- 30% more sharpness
  • f/2.4 -- larger aperture to allow more light in
  • Face detection
  • Photo editing -- now allows users to crop, enhance and edit photos in several other ways
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Video image stabilization

Here's one example of how amazing the new camera is, to which Phil Schiller remarks, "Do you know how hard it is to make a squirrel stand still?"

My favorite part of the whole camera talk though, was when they compared the speed in which various smartphones capture photos:


Phil quips, "I don't know what Droid Bionic users need to do between pictures. Maybe go get coffee?"  Oh snap!

They also mention that the camera could now be accessed even when the phone is locked with a double click of the home button, which is very convenient.  Once the camera is pulled up, photos can also be snapped with one of the volume buttons.  Also very convenient.

When they announced this, I was a bit confused because I had already downloaded the Siri app in January of 2010.  I tested it once and though it's a cool concept for an app, I had only ever opened it once and never bothered with it again.  During the announcement, I tried to pull up the Siri app again and found that it no longer worked.  Apparently, Apple acquired Siri in April of 2010 and is now set to be fully integrated into the iPhone 4S.  Here it is in action:

It looks pretty neat.  During the keynote, some examples included using voice control to ask the phone various questions, such as, "What is the hourly forecast?" and "Do I need a raincoat today?".  You can also set an alarm, put something on your calendar, ask for international time and even ask for restaurant recommendations and definition of words.  These all sound like cool features, but the one that I think that I'm going to find the most useful is the fact that I can text through voice control.  I can finally reply to text messages while driving.

Here's one thing that I couldn't help but think about, though -- how accurate and useful voice control will be.  My current iPhone has voice control as well, only it's less functional.  Though it comes with a set of features, I find that I only end up using it when I'm driving and need to call someone, but even then, it only accurately calls who I tell it to call 25% of the time.  Furthermore, the few times that it does work, I'm practically screaming into the speaker, and enunciating slowly and clearly.

They do make a point to point out that it gets better as it learns your voice.  If that's the case and I don't have to mega enunciate and practically scream into my phone every time I use it, I may be taking advantage of it more.

One thing's for certain though: apparently Siri will never cross me,


Sounds great, right?  Now what else is there?  And what does it look like?!

Then the keynote ended. 

Yup, that was it.  All those rumors of them rolling out a larger screen and thinner body?  Nada.  It appears that they didn't give the body any tweaks at all.  Not even a little.  I'm not saying that the new iPhone has to live up to rumors, but if I'm getting a new, hyped up phone, I want it to be new and shiny both on the inside AND the outside.  Even if just a slight aesthetic tweak.  There was also rumor that there'd be a budget iPhone, which would be the iPhone 4, plus another souped out iPhone.  Clearly didn't happen.

So after I got off my high of the event, my take away was this: the iPhone 4S is basically a phone with the same exact body as the 15 month old iPhone 4, with 7 month old hardware, and I can tell it to do things with my voice.  The A5 processor sounds great, and the voice control does sound cool.  Though as I mentioned earlier, I probably wouldn't be using it much.  Plus, it's kind of awkward telling your phone to do things in public.

But on the upside, I'll be taking some amazing photos.

I wasn't the only one underwhelmed; Apple stock took a 5% nosedive immediately after yesterday's announcement.  Investors were clearly not impressed either:


I didn't think that I'd be asking myself this, but is the ability to take clearer photos and to be able to text with my voice while I'm driving or jogging really worth the hassle and money to get a new phone for?  Not to mention that I'd be tied down to AT&T for another two years.  Meanwhile, Apple would release the iPhone 5 in the middle of that contractual period and I'm stuck with an old model for another year.

Before yesterday's talk, it was x's on my calendar until the 5th gen iPhone came out and I was 100% sure that I was going to get it.  Now that it's been announced though, I'm really on the fence and almost tempted to just wait a year for iPhone 5 to come out, or even get a non-iPhone phone.  I'm sure installing iOS 5 into my current phone will tide me over for at least a bit.

Though when I step back and think about all of its new features again... Twice as fast.  Sick new camera.  Voice activated texting. 

Okay, who am I kidding?  I'll probably still be getting it.  Though just not with as much enthusiasm as I'd thought.

Update: @ read this post and forwarded me to this article by Jason Kottke breaking it down for naysayers like myself.  It's a fantastic post. ...But I still want a unicorn!

Update 2: I got the 4S, and I love it.
Full of fluff and hyperbole

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October 06, 2011
Look out for Apple's stock price when market opens today. If it's not suspended I wouldn't be surprised for a huge dip!!!
October 06, 2011
That thought has crossed my mind, too. A lot of people are still shell shocked from his passing, so it's like the giant elephant in the room. At least until tomorrow morning. Oy...
October 06, 2011
Disappointment doesn't even begin to cover it... With the latest news of Steve Jobs passing away, it's sad sad day... I don't know, may be the iPad 2 is rightly so the last Apple product I am totally happy with! It's certainly the last product Jobs launched!
October 06, 2011
It's a sad day indeed. I hope Apple stays on the track of creating innovative products. I'm sure that Steve Jobs passed the torch over to Tim Cook for a reason.  Thanks for reading, Sharrie!
October 05, 2011
Thanks for a good review - I felt the same, the new camera and faster prcessing speed are Great but Siri, well I will believe it when I see it, so far voice recognition has always been a dissapointment and I was certainly hoping like most of us Apple fans that number 5 was coming but it's going to be more waiting time, i don't think i will get this one.
October 05, 2011
I might just bite the bullet and get it. Still thinking about whether it's worth it or not for these scant few new features. Thanks for your comment, Orn!
October 05, 2011
"Full of fluff" for some reason has me thinking of adorable stuffed animals, which is odd because we're talking about the release of cold, un-cuddly technology. LOL!
October 05, 2011
Oh, trust me, I cuddle with my iPhone. And when we're not canoodling, it sleeps on a red satin encased pillow next to me.
October 05, 2011
boogah boogah
October 05, 2011
LMAO! That's too funny. My next comment was going to be on how they should make an iPhone that's as cute as the squirrel photo in the presentation, but maybe that won't be necessary.
October 06, 2011
Well, I was given one of these, though I never use it... :P

October 06, 2011
That's hilarious.
October 05, 2011
Informative !
October 05, 2011
Thanks, J!
October 05, 2011
You are very welcome.
October 05, 2011
wow, Dev, you really are passionate with Apple products, 1080p vid? I mean that is quite good. I have an android these days (after my iphone broke) but I can see why I may get this one in 18 months time when it is time for me to upgrade. (actually I can get it since my family plan can switch upgrades) but I may go Verizon next time. The iphone is a pretty good phone, but the bottom line is, what do I need and what I am going to use it for. Pretty soon dual core smart phones (Motorola Atrix is one) are going to take the lead and may even overshadow iphone 5. Nice work, Dev!
October 05, 2011
I am! And re: the camera, they actually pointed out yesterday that this will probably be one of the nicest cameras that a lot of people will ever own. It really does look like it competes with point-and-shoots, especially given the fact that it's on a phone with iCloud and the fact that you can edit, etc. I'm sure there will be better phones than the iPhone and I know that there are already phones out there with better features in other countries. ...But I'm still pretty married to the iPhone. It's just so well-made and reliable. Thanks for your comment, Woo!
October 05, 2011
Yeah, seems like in Asia the SAMSUNG S class is the main device, while in Europe, HTC's line is # 1. The thing I don't like about spending too much on any device is the fact that its technology becomes old in a year and nearly obsolete in 4years. Take for example the Ipad, someone just made its tech nearly obsolete, and I think Samsung is on its way to making another tablet.
October 06, 2011
It's Apple, and in the eyes of hardcore fans, they can do no wrong, so even if a phone or tablet computer with more features (actually, those already exist) come out, I'm sure they'll be relatively unaffected. Their products are cutting edge, yet reliable, safe, and elegant. They'll be around for a while. As for phones becoming obsolete -- thank goodness for those upgrade plans! ;)
More Announcement of iPhone 4S reviews
Quick Tip by . October 05, 2011
Disclaimer: I'm not an iPhone user. My phone is like the redheaded stepchild of an iPhone. Most of my friends are on iPhones or Android Phones and constantly ask me why I don't have one. The reason is this: Why would I want to buy a phone from a company that is constantly updating their product and can't seem to get it right the first time? Every time a new Apple product comes out, I groan because I know there will be a 2,3,4...whatever coming after it. I figure that I'll wait a …
Quick Tip by . October 04, 2011
For 15 months in the making, I was expecting a more radical update.  An iPhone 5.  But still... I want it.  Apple, just take my money already. The voice activated phone navigation and the camera sound amazing.      Also, I'm going to need a tent for October 14th.
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devora ()
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When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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On October 4, 2011, Apple announced the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S added a higher resolution camera (8 Megapixel) with 1080p video recording, face detection, and video stabilization, a faster, dual core processor, world phone capability (allowing a single handset to operate on networks based on both GSM/UMTS and CDMA technologies), and a natural language voice control system called Siri. It will be available in 16 GB and 32 GB as well as a new 64 GB capacity. It was also announced that in the U.S. Sprint would begin carrying the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
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