Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event wasn’t just about the iPhone

Along with thousands (millions?) of other geeks, I have been pressing refresh on my browser for the past hour and a half trying to get the latest Apple news via the various live blogging sites which have been crashing with all the traffic. I’m not sure if I remember ever having this much trouble with prior Apple events. Regardless, Apple had quite a bit to talk about today. From the announcement that iOS 5 is due out next Wednesday (10/12), to updated and lowered priced iPod nanos, lower priced iPod touches with a white version coming soon and finally what we’ve all been waiting to hear about, the new iPhone!

Unfortunately, Apple did not announce an iPhone 5 <sob!>… Instead we get the iPhone 4S which looks just like the current iPhone 4 on the outside, but packs a lot of extra sauce under the hood. First of all it’s a world phone that is both GSM and CDMA.  It has an A5 dual-core processor inside which makes it about 2x faster than the current iPhone and dual-core graphics that are 7x faster. The camera has been completely updated with a 8 megapixel sensor which is 30% sharper, has 73% more light, 26% better white balance and 1080p video recording with image stabilization. Another new feature is a new antenna switching system that allows for 2x faster download speeds that claim to be faster than phones on 4G networks.

But that’s not all… one of the really interesting new features is Siri. Where they came up with that name is beyond me… Siri is a voice activated assistant that responds to your spoken commands when you hold down the Home button. From what I saw from the demos on the live event, this feature is seriously impressive. You can say things like “remind me to pick up milk after work”, “do I need to take an umbrella today?”, “wake me up at 6am” and Siri will respond with the answers and / or will create reminders, alarms, text messages etc. I can’t wait to try it out in the privacy of my own home or car… but I’m not sure I would use it in public for fear of looking like a dork though. Would you?

The iPhone 4S will be available in Black and White versions for 16GB: $199, 32GB for $299, 64GB for $399 all with a 2yr contract. Pre-orders for the 4S start this Friday October 7th via Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint and will be available on October 14th.

Who else is more than a bit disappointed that we didn’t get the iPhone 5 today? I was all set to whip out my credit card, but I think I’ll hold off for now… I’ll just live with my current iPhone 4 and iOS5 until the iPhone 5 is available.  <sniff>

Update 10/5/11

I’ve been thinking about the 4S since yesterday. I was really disappointed that Apple didn’t announce the iPhone 5 instead… But then I asked myself, what was I really disappointed about? When I looked at all the updates in the 4S (CPU, GPU, Camera, Antenna system, Siri, etc), what else would/could I have added? Bigger display? Yeah maybe… but I’ve come to love the size of the iPhone 4 MUCH more than my Droid X with the larger display. After a little thought, I realized that I was most disappointed in the case… that the iPhone 4S looks exactly like the iPhone 4 and that makes it feel like there’s been no update at all when in reality there have been a lot of changes that would have been perceived as much more exciting if the phone would have looked a little different and had the name iPhone 5. I think Apple may have bad a mistake in this regard. Even if they would have introduced another couple of colors, I think it would make a big difference.

I said I wasn’t going to upgrade from my iPhone 4, but I’m waffling on that decision now. That’s saying a lot because I’ll have to buy mine without the upgrade discount because I’m not due till April of 2012. Why they heck am I thinking about upgrading? In truth… it’s the camera. I  know that sounds insane, but for me, it’s one of my top favorite features of the phone.

Posted in: iPhone, iPad, iPod, News

{ 34 comments… add one }

  • Bill C October 4, 2011, 3:00 pm

    They didn’t come up with the name Siri but rather purchased the software “Siri Assistant” from a company named Siri. There was a lot of buzz about the program 18 months ago or so but it hasn’t been updated in a year. While its voice technology worked very well, I was underwhelmed by its results. Granted, that has more to do with where I live and less to do with the software.

    1
  • James Goforth October 4, 2011, 3:14 pm

    @Julie

    Found this while surfing for iPhone news

    BGR.com has been told that Sprint will be getting the iPhone 5 — yes the real iPhone 5, not the iPhone 4S — as an exclusive. And it will be a 4G WiMAX device. AT&T and Verizon will launch the iPhone 4S and get the iPhone 5 some time in the first quarter of next year as an LTE device. Globally, the iPhone 5 might be available as a 4G HSPA+ device

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/10/03/sprint-scores-iphone-5-exclusive-thanks-to-20-billion-deal-with-apple/#ixzz1ZqGZlH1L

    Not sure what to think about this.

    2
  • Julie October 4, 2011, 3:33 pm

    @James I hope the Sprint exclusivity rumor isn’t true… that would suck to have to wait.

    3
  • James Okola October 4, 2011, 3:37 pm

    @Goforth:

    That article is dated yesterday. There is no iPhone 5, and won’t be for a while. At least not until sometime next year. BGR, Fox are wrong.

    The biggest story is iOS 5. The iPhone 4S is really not much of an upgrade.

    4
  • Ken Schoenberg October 4, 2011, 3:37 pm

    I just don’t think there’s that much more to do hardware-wise and keep the iPhone under $700 (to the carriers). It’s all about iOS 5 and the improvements they can make there.

    I do hope for Sprint’s sake that the ridiculous five-year deal they signed gets them a true differentiator over what AT&T and Verizon will be offering.

    The iPhone 4s is a suitable refresh…a little faster, better battery life and better camera.

    5
  • Julie October 4, 2011, 4:02 pm

    It sucks that Siri isn’t going to be included in the iOS 5 update next week… :(

    6
  • Jackie Cheng October 4, 2011, 4:10 pm

    Kind of disappointed with Apple only giving half an upgrade on their iPhone line. Was so hoping for them to release the iPhone 5 so I can upgrade from my Blackberry. If I get the 4S now then I’ll probably regret it next year when they release the 5?

    The Siri demo looks cool but who will actually really use it in real life? Just like FaceTime. My friends played with it when it first came out and now they don’t even use that feature.

    7
  • Mark Rosengarten October 4, 2011, 5:15 pm

    I was on the edge of my seat…and my butt stayed right there. This thing is a huge pile of meh. I have no reason to not hold onto my iPhone 4 for another year.

    8
  • Jim October 4, 2011, 7:05 pm

    Ready to buy a five…going to wait, please apple don’t be late

    9
  • Jackie Cheng October 4, 2011, 8:51 pm

    One this good about the 4S is that all the current cases will work for it…

    10
  • Joe October 4, 2011, 9:37 pm

    My acquaintance told me of Iphone 4s several month ago. (his company works with Apple so he already worked on proto type). He , then , told that it would be 4s with above mentioned upgrade of A5 and 8 Mpx etc. Later , he told me that it could be called as Iphone 5, but wasn’t sure. Recently, he told me that these phones were sent to Apple store with escort and he started to see new proto type phones. My guess is that Apple might had internal conflict whether it would be called 4s or 5 due to degree of change from 4. I already knew what was coming but am disappointed since it is called 4s not 5. It sounds silly but I feel like I need to wait longer just because its name. Has anybody tried Galaxy S II?

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  • Jane P. October 4, 2011, 11:24 pm

    Molly Wood, of CNET fame wrote this:

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-31322_3-20115654-256/the-real-reason-theres-no-iphone-5-the-carriers/?tag=cnetRiver

    Given that most folks are on 2 year contracts, it makes sense to me that Apple will take half steps each year (iphone3 to iphone3s; iphone4 to iphone4s). People who are only one year into their iphone4 contracts will have not trouble waiting another year for iphone5. People who entered the iphone marketplace by purchasing a iphone 3s 2 years ago are ready for this newest upgrade.

    12
  • Jane P. October 4, 2011, 11:42 pm

    Regarding the ipod touch. The price drop only covers the 8 GB Touch (the 32 & 64GB are the same price). This brings the 8GB in line with the Amazon’s new Tablet. But, with iCloud and IOS 5, the Touch’s 8 GB becomes very powerful. The ‘Touch’s screen is smaller …. but you have a camera, facetime, and lots of Apps.

    I’m assuming/hoping that IOS5 will be downloaded onto my
    ‘Touch4. I’d love access to iCloud.

    Regarding the Fire vs iPad “3”, I’ll have to wait to see what that update will look like. I still think that come Xmass time, parents will be deciding between the Amazon Fire and the pocket sized iPod touch.

    Come March, Apple will need to think about the price point for the 8GB iPad armed with a better camera, Siri, iOS5 and iCloud.

    Ain’t life great?

    13
  • Smitty October 5, 2011, 2:52 am

    I’m one who updated on launch day of the iPhone 4, and am now eligible for an update. I’m thinking of getting this for myself, passing my current 4 to my oldest daughter (who has a 3GS bought on same day). That one and a free 3GS will have us be an all iPhone family for only two upgrades. Given that I’m on the $30 data plan but rarely use even 200 MB a month, I could downgrade and we’d only be out $15 per month more than we’re paying now.

    For those saying this is not a significant upgrade and the 5 would have been better, I’m wondering how? Doubling the processing power and the application memory, increasing video performance seven times over, and making the phone a world phone is huge. Improving the antenna performance, as well as the huge improvements to the already fantastic iPhone 4 camera (which is the most popular camera on the photo-sharing site Flickr.com) is icing on the cake. Add in the voice-processing capabilities needed for Siri and you’ve got quite a change from my 16-month-old unit!

    Sure, they could have added 4G, and a few hundredK people would have been happier when they’re in those towns, but the rest of us would be irritated by lowered battery life and increased costs, not to mention sapping some of the performance gains. Once LTE gets mainstream (read beyond the US and Verizon), I think it’ll make sense, but at this point, it would be more gilt to the lily, rather than a great new feature.

    14
  • Mark Rosengarten October 5, 2011, 5:20 am

    The issue I have with this is that Apple, who once led the pack by a large margin, with this incremental release, is falling behind Android faster and faster. There are phones that were released in the spring that blow this thing out of the water. I bought an iPhone 4 in March off of eBay to replace my rapidly dying Droid. I am eligible now to update my phone but I’ll be dipped in horseradish if I’m going to lock myself in for two years with a mediocre update. I can wait until next year to see what Apple can do. If it turns out to be not much, then it might be time to jump back to a more mature Android platform.

    15
  • deslock October 5, 2011, 7:25 am

    Apple announced what I expected, but it was still disappointing. Siri and iCloud look very useful, the A5 ought to make the iPhone4S much zippier than any of the current Android phones, the dual antenna design is nifty, and the rest of the iOS5 improvements are welcome (especially notifications).

    But 4.9 ounces with a 3.5″ screen and integrated battery? That was fine when the SGS2 didn’t exist. Yes the iPhone4S has better build quality, and I personally don’t care about having a removable battery. But having an integrated battery and small screen means the iPhone should weigh less, be thinner, and/or have more WHr. At the very least, they should’ve added a larger screen while keeping it under 5 ounces.

    Will wait to see what the Nexus Prime has to offer before deciding on my next device.

    16
  • jimlat October 5, 2011, 9:21 am

    Julie…looks like Siri is a 4S thing, not an iOS 5 thing, maybe related to processing power?

    17
  • Julie October 5, 2011, 9:40 am

    I’ve been thinking about the 4S since yesterday. I was really disappointed that Apple didn’t announce the iPhone 5 instead… But then I asked myself, what was I really disappointed about? When I looked at all the updates in the 4S (CPU, GPU, Camera, Antenna system, Siri, etc), what else would/could I have added? Bigger display? Yeah maybe… but I’ve come to love the size of the iPhone 4 MUCH more than my Droid X with the larger display. After a little thought, I realized that I was most disappointed in the case… that the iPhone 4S looks exactly like the iPhone 4 and that makes it feel like there’s been no update at all when in reality there have been a lot of changes that would have been perceived as much more exciting if the phone would have looked a little different and had the name iPhone 5. I think Apple may have bad a mistake in this regard. Even if they would have introduced another couple of colors, I think it would make a big difference.

    I said I wasn’t going to upgrade from my iPhone 4, but I’m waffling on that decision now. That’s saying a lot because I’ll have to buy mine without the upgrade discount because I’m not due till April of 2012. Why they heck am I thinking about upgrading? In truth… it’s the camera. I know that sounds insane, but for me, it’s one of my top favorite features of the phone.

    18
  • Julie October 5, 2011, 9:43 am

    @jimlat I think I read that Siri is baked into iOS5, so I’m wondering if it’s just Apple playing games to use it as a carrot for people thinking about upgrading to the 4S.

    19
  • jimlat October 5, 2011, 12:28 pm

    I don’t think that would be a first for Apple, Julie… =)

    20
  • Ronald October 5, 2011, 3:15 pm

    What a disappointment after so much publicity before the Apple event!

    21
  • Jane P. October 5, 2011, 4:10 pm

    Julie, I’m wondering about Siri and iOS5. In the past, Steve Jobs made it a point to state that all devices getting the iOSx upgrade will also get these new xyz Apps. Maybe Siri comes with the 4s, but everyone will have to purchase the Siri app. Maybe Siri is built into the hardware like the cameras …

    Although I don’t have a iPhone, I got to agree with Juli reagrding the screen size. You need to decide if you want something that will fit easily into your pocket or something that you’ll have to carry around in your hands.

    I bought an Ipod Touch4 at Xmass time. I put a lot of thought into the Touch vs the Ipad1. I got the Touch4 because of the camera and Facetime, and it’s size. I also wanted to wait for the next Ipad upgrade and get one this year.

    I never looked back. I love the fact that I can put the touch in my pocket. I love the free WiFi texting/phone apps. I love the apps and games. During the summer I was in Canada and used my Touch instead of my Cell and zero cost to me.

    Although I use the Touch to read articles, I am looking forward to a larger screen on a Tablet. Yes, I’d sort of like a smart phone so that I can log onto the Web whenever I want … but I really don’t have a reason to put out the extra monthly service bucks.

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  • Jane P. October 5, 2011, 4:17 pm

    Ronald, maybe everyone’s disappointment stems from Amazon’s product rollout last week. The Fire introduction has set some sort of bar that everyone was waiting for Apple to leap over.

    My disappointment was not being able to access CNET’s coverage of the Apple event! Would the site have melted down if Amazon hadn’t announced its Fire?

    23
  • Julie October 5, 2011, 4:42 pm

    @Jane P. Rob (the-gadgeteer’s head system wizard) and I were talking about Siri this morning. He thinks that it’s probably due to hardware issues that Siri isn’t going to be available on the 3GS or 4 via the iOS5 update. Maybe Siri needs the extra processing power of the A5 dual-core chip…

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  • Jack October 5, 2011, 5:09 pm

    What an incredible fuss over what is after all only a mobile phone! The market is awash with similar devices & the Galaxy S does everything that this new apple 4S does & has done since 2009 ;)

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  • Ian October 5, 2011, 6:29 pm

    With the upgraded CPU and graphics chips there is no way I would want 4G on this phone. It would eat your battery at prodigious rates. Other 4G phones I have read review of suffer from this battery eating problem and this area has always been a weak spot for iphones.

    I like the spec of the 4S (especially the fact it’s cdma + quad gsm) and while I have never wanted an iphone b4, his hits most of my buttons (I am on Sprint also).
    BUT the big BUT for me. I am no fan of itunes software and the only other Apple device I own is a Newton (2 actually).

    So my question is: From my MS PC hw can I upload my MP3s and contacts to this phone. If I am forced to use itunes etc. then I will not buy this phone.

    26
  • Jane P. October 5, 2011, 7:03 pm

    Thanks Julie. I keep forgetting about the A5 dual core.

    I wish … Apple had upgraded the camera on the Ipod touch. I can understand why they would not want to have the same upgrade as the 4s. But they could have put in last years iPhone camera system.

    I think that iPad 3 will benefit from the dual core chip and Siri.

    27
  • Rob Tillotson October 5, 2011, 7:19 pm

    One of my thoughts on why the mention of Siri on the iPad 2 was curiously absent (despite it being equally powerful) is that they might be using back-end servers to do the heavy lifting, as most mobile voice recognition systems do already, and they might not want to put it on wifi-only iPads since it wouldn’t work without a data connection. Given how tightly they like to control user experience it just feels like the sort of thing they would rather not have on customers’ minds, at least not until the tech is established a little more.

    Also of random note is that Sprint is reportedly upgrading their 3G network to EVDO rev. B which will allow higher speeds and more capacity. This should alleviate the pressure a little bit if the Sprint iPhone ships without 4G. (I sure hope so, since I use Sprint and I’d rather it not get even more congested!) This is in addition to their upcoming conversion of the Nextel spectrum to CDMA 1x-Advanced for voice and text, which I hope the iPhone will support as well.

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  • Rob Tillotson October 5, 2011, 7:21 pm

    @Jane P.: The iPad 2 already has the dual core A5; the iPhone 4S is bringing the iPhone up to match it. By the time the iPad 3 rolls around, I would hope it will be a quad core, or faster than 1GHz, or both, since that’s where the competition will be by then.

    29
  • Jane P. October 6, 2011, 12:43 am

    Thanks Rob! How embarrassing! Now you know why I rarely comment.

    But … my thinking is the same: I’m waiting for all the latest good stuff and lots more to be added to the iPod3. I don’t mind that Apple has labeled this latest iPhone 4s instead of a 5. My interest as a gadget enthusiast is in what the product will do for me. I simply don’t have the engineering background to appreciate the insides of the things. But that doesn’t stop me from using them and loving the experience.

    RIP Steve Jobs!

    30
  • Andy Jacobs October 6, 2011, 9:32 am

    I bought my iPhone 3GS Oct 15, 2009, not long after it was released the previous summer. Although the 3GS was in reality a “spec bump” to the popular 3G, at the time the 3GS was THE iPhone to own and arguably THE smartphone to own, period. I would have been happy with the 3G, but even happier to have the opportunity to get the even better 3GS.

    Fast forward to the release of the iPhone 4, which was truly a “new” iPhone due not only to the styling, but also the hardware specs and other features. I looked at my 3GS and had real pangs of envy. I really wanted iPhone 4, both for how it looked AND what it could do, but being locked into a contract, that envy evaporated quickly—especially when iOS4 made me fall in love with my 3GS all over again.

    Fast forward to this past Tuesday. Like many, I had really been buying into the iPhone 5 rumor hype and really wanting this mythical thinner/larger screen/curved back beauty. (However, to be fair, the “publicity”, as someone above mentioned, was not from Apple, but from rumor sites and hungry fans—Apple was as silent as ever.) And like many, I was initially disappointed in the iPhone 4S announcement. But I quickly had a rethink on this.

    When the iPhone 4 came out, I’d had to forgo my desired upgrade from my 3GS due to my contract. But with my contract expiration looming within literally a few days, now I can not only get my hands on the 4, but the improved, “spec bumped” 4S. Yeah, it’s not the mythical iPhone 5, but who knows when that will be released—summer, next fall, ever? And the so-called spec “bumps” from the 4 to the 4S are even greater in impact than from the 3G to the 3GS. So, if Apple continues to launch a new phone one year and a “spec bump” the following year, the timing of my 2-year contract expiration puts me in the perfect position to get that “spec bumped” version each time—and I’m very happy with this indeed.

    All this said, even with my 2yr contract expiring on Oct 15, I’m not planning to rush out and renew it to upgrade my 3GS to a 4S, since I’ll be able to upgrade my 3GS to iOS5, which will tide me over for a while. Plus, I’ve heard stories of people who, once their contact had expired, their carrier had begun throwing increasing incentives at them to sweeten the pot and entice them to re-sign a new contract—anyone know if this is true or just a tech urban myth?

    31
  • nancy October 9, 2011, 3:00 am

    i’ve been reading up on all the ways to get an iphone 4s 16gb…as i’m currently stuck in a contract from june 2010 with an iphone 3gs 8gb, so i would have to pay $175 to break my contract, get the 4s with for $199 with a new contract ===OR=== wait until march 2012 when i’m eligible for upgrade for $199 ===OR=== buy an unlocked 4s for $449 and screw at&t and never sign a contract again! i’m hoping to sell my 3gs for about $175…decisions decisions…anyone else in the same boat?

    32
  • Julie October 9, 2011, 11:13 am

    @Nancy sort of. I am not eligible for a discounted phone through Verizon till next april. I just decided to pay the full price for a 16gb 4s. I didn’t want to break my contract and get a brand new phone number (which I’m guessing would happen).

    33
  • nancy October 10, 2011, 3:32 pm

    oops got myself confused! so if i stay with at&t, i can buy only the iphone 4s now for $449 but with required renewal? and the upgrade eligible are paying $199 with or without renewing the contract? the unlocked iphone 4s is $649 and requires a microsim — will at&t provide that for free or at cost if i ask them?

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