Time to get over the fact that Apple didn’t announce the iPhone 5, but instead introduced the iPhone 4S, which boasts a collection of upgrades nonetheless. Here’s a quick spin through what’s new.
What does it look like?
It looks just like the iPhone 4, with extremely minor almost unnoticeable changes such as an extra rubber seam between the exterior band antenna. Same dimensions, but one-tenth of an ounce heavier than the iPhone 4, same size (3.5 inches) and resolution (960 x 460-pixel Retina display) for its touchscreen (see more in our Phone 4S First Look slideshow).
The 42 makes changes in 4 main areas:
A dual-core CPU, the A5, the same one that powers Apple’s iPad. The performance difference will be most noticeable for intensive tasks like games and photo or video editing. Apple says graphics will be up to 7 times faster on the 4S.
Despite the CPU change, battery life remains almost unchanged: 4S can actually get up to 8 hours of talk time on 3G, (compared to 7 hours on iPhone 4). Standby time is one-third less, at 200 hours (300 hours for iPhone 4). Up to 9 hours of Internet access via Wi-Fi is one hour less than iPhone 4.
Dual-band “world phone” that can run on either CDMA or GSM networks; it seems like that in the U.S. that the 4S will be locked to the Verizon and Sprint CDMA networks. Whether these phones can then roam to a GSM network overseas is still unclear.
Support for HSDPA+ 14.4Mbps on the downlink (iPhone 4 was 7.2Mbps); the uplink speed remains unchanged: HSUPA 5.8Mbps. It will not run on LTE networks.
Some changes to the antennas, though not the basic design (steel bands around the outside body of the phone, introduced in iPhone 4). Apple has given few details about this but Brian Klug, writing at AnandTech, says the 4S seems to have received the tweaks made with the release in early 2011 of the first CDMA iPhone 4 on Verizon. The 4S thus “likewise includes what appears to be a combination of Rx [radio receive] diversity and the ability to switch between antennas for transmit.” Apple says this lets the 4S “intelligently switch between the [two] antennas for even better call quality.”
Camera and “mirroring”:
A much improved camera, not just the 8-megpixel sensor (versus 5 megapixels for iPhone 4). But a new image signal processor designed by Apple and a bunch of other improvements to support 1080p photos and video recording, faster camera setup and picture sequences, and better quality photos compared to iPhone 4.
AirPlay Mirroring, a feature imported from iPad 2, letting you display what’s on your phone’s screen on a flat-panel display via Apple TV.
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