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Your basic guide to the new Apple iPhone 4S

John Cox | Oct. 5, 2011
Time to get over the fact that Apple didn’t announce the iPhone 5, but instead introduced the iPhone 4S, which boasts a collection of upgrades nonetheless. Here’s a quick spin through what’s new.

User Interface:

A beta release of something like a voice interface, called Siri, which seems to be an expansion of an iPhone 4 app of the same name (Apple acquired the company and its IP in 2010). Apple has integrated Siri with a wide range of iPhone applications.

You use conversational English (or French or German) to talk “to” the phone. Siri interacts with a range of OS and phone features to schedule meetings, find information, alert you with verbal reminders (for tasks or errands), read your text messages aloud, get directions (and guide you verbally), book a table at a local restaurant and much more. Over a Bluetooth handset it can read your text messages to you even if your phone is in your pocket. What’s more, it supports dictation: according to Apple’s Phil Schiller. “So anywhere an application might normally show a keyboard, there is now a microphone [the Siri icon], where Siri will type for you,” he says.

What are the phone purchase options and when can I get one?

You can start ordering the 4S on Oct. 7.

Three U.S. carriers will offer it: AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and for the first time, Sprint.

There will be three models; with a two-year contract, the prices are:16 GB, $19932 GB, $299And for the first time, 64GB, for $399.

You will still be able to buy an 8GB iPhone 4, for $99. And the iPhone 3GS is now free, with a 2-year contract.

Should we care about iPhone 4S? A lot of people were expecting SuperPhone: 4G, some kind of new packaging, a big screen…

The iPhone 4s is a package that combines key improvements to the basic iPhone 4 design, the new iOS 5 version of the operating system (also available to many older iPhone models), and the new iCloud services, which are more ambitious than anything Apple has had before. All of these are tightly integrated within the Apple ecosystem.

At the same time, with the 4S, Apple creates a new depth to its product line. At the high-end, the 4S continues the basic design of a highly successful product and improves it by boosting performance and 3G networking speeds, without sacrificing battery life; offering a more competitive camera/video recorder, which relies on more than an increase in megapixels to improve images; and introduces what promises to be an expanding voice user interface to mobile devices and mobile services.

At the same time, both the iPhone 4 and 3GS become much more affordable to a much larger segment of the buyers, both in the U.S. and overseas.



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