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4 ways the iPhone 4S beats its predecessor

Matt Hamblen | Oct. 5, 2011
The new iPhone 4S unveiled Tuesday has four important wireless networking enhancements that its predecessor lacked, including dual-network world phone capabilities and the fact that it is available through a third U.S. carrier: Sprint.

In comparison, the iPhone 4S will sell for $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB version, and $399 for new 64GB version.

A world phone

The new iPhone 4S also functions as a world phone that works with both CDMA and GSM networks.

That means that customers of Sprint and Verizon, which have CDMA networks, will have to use GSM networks if they travel abroad, since GSM is widely deployed globally. And they will also be subject to roaming policies and will have to pay rates that can be quite high, analysts noted.

"The world phone is a big thing, especially for a lot of users who travel internationally," Burden said.

Both Gartenberg and Burden noted that Apple benefits from having both GSM and CDMA inside the iPhone 4S, because it can simplify future updates to one model. "You will have one phone for multiple carriers," Burden said.

 HSDPA means fast downloads

 

Apple boasted that the iPhone 4S supports download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps with HSDPA (High Speed Download Packet Access) technology. Burden said that capability will work on many GSM networks globally, including AT&T's in the U.S.

However, Apple included a footnote in its press release noting that "HSDPA availability and network speeds are dependent on carrier networks."

In fact, only AT&T will support HSDPA. On Sprint and Verizon networks, download performance is governed by the CDMA/1x EV-DO rev. A standard -- so speeds will reach up to 3Mbps at best, according to industry standards.

Additionally, AT&T will only have the faster 14.4Mbps downloads where it has provisioned HSDPA. And that download speed is considered a theoretical maximum; in reality, the average user in a crowded cell tower zone won't experience that level of performance.

Gartenberg said the network improvements are not what he considers the best new features in the iPhone 4S. Instead, he pointed to the faster dual-core A5 processor, the 8-megapixel enhanced camera and speech recognition capability using Siri.

The fact that Apple stuck with the same exterior design as the iPhone 4 isn't going to be a problem, he contended. "People like that design and it sold incredibly well," Gartenberg said. "It makes sense to keep it."

 

 

 

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