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Apple iPhone 4S, with Siri, iOS 5, iCloud -- but no 4G


03/10/2011

There was no Apple iPhone 5, no 4G connectivity and no Steve Jobs. In Cupertino this afternoon, new Apple CEO Tim Cook instead introduced the iPhone 4S — which may stand for Siri, the voice-activated, self-proclaimed "humble personal assistant" that`s part Michael`s Kit, part Bertie`s Jeeves and arguably the highlight of the device. Which, much to the disappointment of those hoping for an iPhone 5, is essentially identical to its predecessor -- though it could have a big impact on the carrier landscape (CP: New iPhone 4S welcomes more carriers -- but skirts the 4G debate)

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Other important details: Verizon, AT&T and Sprint — yes, Sprint — will offer it. It`s a world phone, with both CDMA and GSM antennas, an updated iOS 5, sports a much-improved camera, a dual-core A5 processor (bringing it up to snuff with dual-core-driven Android devices) and access to iCloud. Apple will start taking pre-orders for the 4S Oct. 7 and shipping Oct. 14. And, in white or black, it will be available in three models: a 16GB for $199, 32GB for $299 or 64GB for $399.

In kind, the 8GB iPhone 4 will be knocked down to $99 and the iPhone 3GS won`t cost a thing (beyond one`s sworn dedication) [editor: and the ability to be satisfied with a now two-year old device].

Cook called the 4S "the most amazing iPhone ever," and certainly Apple packed it with enough new features and improvements to make that true But first, a few more words on Siri.

For now it (is it weird to want to say she?) understands English, French and German, but more languages are coming. You can speak to it normally and it not only understands questions or instructions, regardless of the phrasing, but learns the more it is used. Siri can, among other things, be asked about the weather, for driving directions, to define obscure words, to make appointments, to set an alarm, to find a good restaurant, to play a particular song, to calculate the number of weeks or days until Christmas and to remind you to call your wife when you leave work — which Siri knows to do by setting up a geofence around your office. She`s kind of a workhorse.

As for those other features, they include:

-- a drastically improved camera, with an 8-megapixel sensor and 60% more pixels for capturing greater detail, plus an improved lens and filter;

-- the ability to use the volume up button to take a photo;

-- a stainless steel external dual antenna, making it the first phone to switch between two antennas for improved reception;

-- download speeds that are double the iPhone 4`s;

-- iOS 5 perks such as deep Twitter integration, iMessage, a Notifications feature, location awareness options and Newsstand;

-- free access to iCloud;

-- and, thanks to the A5 chip, graphics that are said to be seven times faster.

Additionally, while Microsoft would just have consumers use its phones to listen to music (MDP: Microsoft Kills Zune Hardware, Tweaks Subs To Compete In Mobile Music) Apple also announced the addition, via iOS 5, of 200 new features and improvements to the iPod touch, which will come in black or white and sell for $199, and an updated iPod Nano for $129.

The iPod touch also works with iCloud, which will be available Oct. 12.

The iPhone 5, it seems, will arrive when 4G networks are more widespread and Apple`s user base is reliably turning to the cloud.

Sprint, for its part, Tweeted that it`s "delighted to be part of Apple`s new iPhone product announcement" and promised more details shortly.



 

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