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Apple unveils iPhone 4S with A5 chip, new antenna system

updated 02:15 pm EDT, Tue October 4, 2011

Dual-core, seven-times boost to graphics

Apple today revealed the iPhone 4S, its next-generation smartphone. The device makes the switch to dual-core A5 processor, giving it about twice the CPU speed of the iPhone 4 but a seven-fold improvement in graphics performance. The phone also includes a new antenna system, which automatically switches between two antennas to transmit and receive. More importantly, download and upload speeds have jumped to 14.4Mbps and 5.8Mbps respectively, and the device is a world phone, capable of handling both GSM and CDMA networks.

A new 8 megapixel camera uses a backside illuminated CMOS sensor, and should be about one-thirds faster. An IR filter is meant to produce more accurate and uniform colors, and a five-element lens is said to produce sharper images with a maximum aperture of f/2.4. Apple has even implemented its own image signal processor, and the company claims to have one of the quickest time-to-first-photo speeds at 1.1 seconds. AirPlay mirroring, 1080p video recording and video image stabilization have been implemented.

Also new is Siri, an intelligent voice assistant based on the iPhone app of the same name. Users can hold down the Home button to speak plain-language questions and commands. In response iOS will present the relevant data from sources like Weather, Wikipedia or Wolfram Alpha, or in the case of commands execute functions in apps like Calendar, Reminders, SMS, Maps, Mail and Phone. A new Dictation function will let people speak instead of type when keyboard prompts are available.

The conversion process is handled remotely, requiring a 3G or Wi-Fi connection. US, British, and Australian English are initially being supported, along with French and German, although the technology is currently considered in beta. Siri is said to improve over time as it adapts to your voice.

Preorders for the iPhone 4S start Friday, October 7th. Black and white models will ship to the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan on October 14th; US carriers will include AT&T, Verizon and for the first time Sprint. On the 28th another 22 countries will get the hardware, and by the end of the year the total should reach 70.

US prices on contract are $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for a new 64GB option.

by MacNN Staff



  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Since I didn't participate in a live blog of the announcement, I wonder if Siri will work in the iMessages/Messages app? What a great way to respond to text messages when typing is difficult.


  1. Fonejacker

    Joined: Dec 1969


    bit of a disappointment

    internal improvements, yes, brought price down, yes and good, outside no difference, very bad. Software iOS5 looks very good, miles better than Android. But I think Android manufacturers have some nice hardware designs, in fact I would say better designs or designs that I like more than Apple's. I saw some mock ups of the iPhone 5 that looked fantastic, that is why I was hoping to buy an iPhone 5. Looks like I will wait until next year for the iPhone 5 with iOS6 possibly. Apple is still bound sell millions, which is great.

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RE: bit of a disappointment

    May I ask what about the exterior of the iPhone 4 do you disapprove of? Or what exactly of the Android phone is better?

    I know the larger screen would be nice, but for the sharper image, I'm willing to give it up (at least til iPh5). But the dual camera has been improved, the graphics are better, the antenna issue has been addressed, and it's still in a compact form (i.e. - not too large for handheld like the Droid feels).


  1. burger

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Form factor

    For me, the phone isn't natural to hold. The back edges make it feel like I'm holding a brick. Size of the device and screen resolution are fine. Just make it a little nicer to hold.

  1. chas_m



    Nice update

    While people who bought into the rumour hype might be a bit disappointed, personally I thought it was a really nice update: everything I like about the iPhone 4 improved, and cheaper now to boot. For people within a year of the end of their contracts, this will be a SWEET upgrade. The faster HSPA is a nice bonus as well, and I'll be keen to see how well Siri works early on.

    A bit "HA HA!" to all those case makers who believed the "Chinese prototype" and started cranking out "iPhone 5" cases. Enjoy the losses, suckers!

  1. facebook_Robert

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Oct 2011


    huge letdown

    no iPhone 5, the lack of comments speaks volumes. Nobody cares.

    Although frankly the A5 chip is a huge improvement - the iPhone 4 - not today's iPhone 4, but the one you already owned yesterday was quite a fast chip. So they went to dual core, and upped the graphics.

    Android already was a laggard on the chips. This is what I mean by that, I have a HTC Sensation with dual core was always slower than my iPhone 4 for the webapps that I write.
    Android just isn't optimized, so it needs dual core to make up for the OS.

    iPhone 4S - well sure its a little faster, but how much speed do you need to drive a tiny 3.5" screen?

    I'll surely choose whatever Apple's best is - whenever its time to buy another phone, so as of today that is an iPhone 4S.

    But I'm not specifically going to sell my iPhone 4 and buy an iPhone 4S - no point.

    If the iPhone 5 had dropped, with something like a larger screen, I would have done exactly that.

    And I'm not the only one - Apple totally dropped the ball - what a long time for a refresh to get not much of anything.

  1. SierraDragon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nice - no letdown.

    I disagree. A4 to A5 is major, 7x graphics improvement is major, a GB of RAM is major, 1080p stabilized video is major, the new camera is major, and my guess is that the new antenna will prove to be very major.

    My other guess is that the integration of A5 and a GB of RAM will be a very significant improvement as regards real-world operation of the intense new apps, especially Siri.

    Why so many folks are incensed about a need for visible changes in a beautiful, best-selling form is beyond me, even though my old eyes would appreciate a larger display.

  1. imNat-imadouche

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Steve was a visionary

    He saw that Apple could no longer innovate and therefore left! Did anyone see the lack of enthusiasm on the webcast? Man o man. Shares down 5%

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Well; if nothing else...

    Apple's good old "It's not about the hardware"
    will make iTards keep saving for that as of yet unreachable iPhone 5 when it does come out...

  1. DaJoNel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'm honestly laughing.

    All of you who are bashing the iPhone 4S because it doesn't look different: WHO GIVES A F**K?? Do you realize what 7x faster graphics performance on the graphically-best smartphone even means? You cannot fathom how incredible this hardware is. Furthermore, do you realize the significance of Siri? Can you even imagine how much effort and ingenious design went into creating it? Can you comprehend how Apple managed to fit an incredible 8 megapixel lens into such a small camera, while increasing aperture and sensitivity? CAN YOU?? NO, because all you can do is cry because Apple decided to greatly improve the inside of the #1 phone worldwide than make "essential" changes to the outside. Honestly, what has happened to the world? Is this how dumb humanity is becoming? Wow.

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