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My Thoughts on the iPhone 4s Announcement

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Well, just minutes ago Apple finished their press conference where they announced, among other things, the long-awaited iPhone 4s.

Prior to the announcement, I was skeptical that I would want the iPhone 4s because it was rumored to be so similar to the iPhone 4 which I currently own.  In particular, I was very concerned that the image quality from the 4s camera would be no better, and perhaps even inferior to the 4.  Of course, leave it to Apple to more the alleviate my concerns – the iPhone 4s sounds like a must-have product.  Here’s the highlights of iPhone 4s features and improvements which were announced:

Camera system improvements:  8-megapixel sensor – 3264 x 2448. 60% more pixels than in iPhone 4.  Uses a backside illumination sensor for 73% more light than previous model. Sensor is faster, too – reduced time between shots .   It’s in fact a third faster.   Plus Apple has used a high-end infra-red filter for better accuracy and uniform colors.  New lens system, with five lens elements – iPhone 4S is a “really wide” f2.4. Lets in a lot of light compared to point & shoots.  Face detection is present, as well as auto white-balance. 30% more sharpness.  Also has real-time image stabilization, real-time noise reduction, and macro support.  Full 1080i video recording capability as well.

Processor:  Apple A5 chipset, dual core Cortex A9 for 7 times faster graphics.  Essentially, the same as the iPad 2.

Batter life improved:  14hrs of 2G talktime.   8hrs of 3G talk time.  6hrs 3G browsing, 9hrs wifi browsing, 10hrs of video or 40hrs of music

Wireless system improved:  The iPhone 4S can intelligently switch between the two antennas to make for better call quality. Plus data can download at 2x the speed. Almost 14.4Mbps downloads theoretically supported.

SIRI:  Perhaps the most “killer” feature of the new iPhone isn’t hardware, but rather software.  The new SIRI voice operated artificial intelligence system looks to be a must-have, mind-blowing capability.

Availability:  October 14, 2011 in 70 countries

US Networks:  AT&T, Verizon, Sprint

Pricing:  16GB for $199 32GB for $299 64GB for $399

My Analysis:  The rear camera sounds very, very good.  I mean, the iPhone 4 image quality is already excellent.  We’ve all known for a while the Apple would up the megapixels to 8 – which isn’t necessarily related to improved image quality, and could in fact detract from it.  But the other enhancements/improvements to the camera systems sound amazing.  BUT…what about the front facing camera?  It could use improving over the current front facing camera on the iPhone 4.  There’s also no mention of improvements to the LED flash.

Apple claims the batter life is improved.   I went back and checked my notes from the WWDC presentation on the iPhone 4 back in 2010.  Here’s the battery life for the iPhone 4 they boasted:  “40 hours of music, 10 hours of video. 6 hours browsing 3G, 10 hours browsing WiFi. 7 hours 3G talk time.”  When you compare the numbers,  we have an improvement of 1 hour in nearly every category except, oddly enough, listening to music, which remains at 40hrs.

Now, many people are upset that we’re getting an iPhone 4s and not an iPhone 5 – they see this as half an upgrade.  I’m not particularly disappointed by the 4s designation – I’m more focusing on the features and specs which have been announced, and I’m impressed.  Would I have liked a different form factor?  Something without a glass back?  Yes, but this isn’t a critical issue for me.

It’s not clear to me whether SIRI is unique to the iPhone 4s.  It seems like a feature that’s integrated into iOS 5 (to be released for free on October 12th).  However, it’s possible that previous iPhones lack the processing horsepower to properly run SIRI.  Putting on my Apple hat though, if I’m Apple, and I’m releasing an evolutionary upgrade of the iPhone with only one truly revolutionary feature, I MIGHT just make it so previous iPhones were not able to run the revolutionary feature.  Just to push people to upgrade….

Am I going to buy one?  Yes I am – one for me, and one for my wife.  I don’t think we’ll get the 64GB version though, now that I have an iPad 2 (more on that in another post) with 64gb.  In my opinion, you only need the higher levels of memory if your storing a lot of movies and video on the phone.  My wife won’t be, and like I said, I’ll use my iPad 2 for watching movies.  However, my iPhone pre-order curse continues, and I will yet again (for like the third straight upgrade) be traveling the day the iPhone ships.  So assuming I can secure a pre-order, I won’t be around the day it comes out.  🙁

More info to come.



About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of, as well as and *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

  1. I was going to get the new iPhone regardless of what it was because currently i carry around an LG voyager and ipod touch 2g every day and its time to upgrade. I was disappointed that after 16 months we only get 3 new features and improvements here and there but it makes sense. original iphone4 launch buyers are still on contract and LTE is not ready. When LTE is ready and people’s 2 years are up i think we will see the iPhone 5 with similar speed to the 4s. Then wait a little longer and you get the 5s with all new ultra battery life due to new breakthrough….and the cycle continues

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