The iconic Apple iPhone got an internal makeover but not much else this week--no radical redesign, no iPhone 5 name change. Fashion-conscious consumers weren't very happy, but iPhone-toting CEOs should be pleased with the iPhone 4S. They might even cheer Apple for leaving out a flashy upgrade.
As you've probably heard by now, the iPhone 4S is Apple's newest iPhone unveiled on Tuesday with much fanfare. On the hardware side, the iPhone 4S touts a much-improved camera and wireless system, a faster A4 chip (the same one that's in the iPad 2), and dual GSM and CDMA support. On the software side, the iPhone 4S comes with a voice-controlled artificial intelligence assistant, called Siri.
Slideshow: First Look: Apple iPhone 4S
Perhaps the most compelling feature is the price tag. The 16GB version costs $199, a 32GB model costs $299, and the 64GB edition costs $399, each with a two-year contract. The iPhone 4S ships October 14.
There's no question Apple aggressively priced the iPhone 4S to compete with cheaper Android phones. Apple and Google are in a pitched battle in the smartphone market, as Android phones have collectively outsold iPhones in the past few quarters.
But business executives should be happy that Apple didn't fall into the trap of doing iPhone upgrades solely because of competition with Android. For business users, real-world necessities trump marketing positioning driven by hype and perception. And there are a lot of iPhone business users: Apple claims 93 percent of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying the iPhone.
All of this leads us to the first of five reasons why the iPhone 4S will be a powerful business tool. "What's in it for business users? Surprisingly, quite a bit," says Aaron Freimark, IT director at services firm Tekserve, which helps Fortune 1000 companies adopt iPhones and iPads.
Reason 1: Avoiding the 4G Facade
Since some Android phones support super-fast 4G LTE networks, tech analyst Rob Enderle and others figured Apple's newest iPhone would have to support 4G as well. "Another 3G phone would be a problem given the heavy push into 4G and would likely give iPhone 4G competitors an unusual advantage," Enderle told me in a discussion about the pros and cons of 4G prior to the iPhone launch.
Never mind that immature 4G chipsets drain battery life like a sieve or that LTE coverage remains spotty as wireless carriers begin their rollout of the network. "It's the chipsets and faster wireless protocols that are really the battery hogs," says Kyle Wiens of iFixit. "Look at the battery life of every new 4G phone; it's not acceptable."
Needless to say, business users prefer battery life and coverage over a 4G marketing ploy. By not going with 4G, Apple has improved the battery life of the iPhone 4S: Eight hours of 3G talk time, 10 hours of video.
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