5 October 2011 | Team Tamar

Let’s talk iPhone (4S, not 5)

As anyone who works with, lives with or indeed IS, a nerd will know, Apple made their autumn iPhone announcement yesterday. I’m going to give you a quick run through of the best bits here, now that the giddy excitement of twitter feeds and live blogs has died down a little.


Crazy brilliant figures for mobile market share, continuing iPod sales and iPad uptake.
iOS5 release date including iCloud (finally)!
iPhone *drum-roll* 4S!! Ta dah!!

What you need to know.

If you own an iPhone already (3GS or 4), iOS5 will be out next week (October 12th). You can read about some of my favourite features here. Included in this release will be iCloud, the beautiful butterfly that’s come from the fuzzy little caterpillar of MobileMe.

iCloud is the core element in Apple’s cutting-the-cord, PC-free dream. All your music, mail, photos, documents, calendars, contacts and much more will be automatically available on all your iOS devices via the cloud. There’s also no need to plug in for updates or even initial set up any more.

You may have been aware of all the speculation on whether Apple would announce an iPhone 5 at the event yesterday. Well, they didn’t. They presented the iPhone 4S instead. It looks the same as the iPhone 4 but is choc-a-block with hardware upgrades, which may not be as immediately exciting as an external redesign, but are, none the less worth mentioning.

  • Dual core A5 chip – the 4S will have the same chip as the iPad2 which will drastically improve performance. Two cores will deliver up to twice the power of that in the 4, leading to noticeable performance improvements, particularly in gaming.
  • Improved battery life – #boring? Well yes, a little boring, but I saw more than one tweet pre-launch that said “the only thing that’d make me buy the new iPhone would be better battery life”. Well here it is, 8hrs call time, upto 14hrs on 2G.
  • Camera improvements – Not only higher megapixel resolution (8 megapixels where the iPhone 4 has 5), but also a new custom lens with larger aperture and improved light sensor, face detection, reduced motion blur and some image editing goodies. Although I’m still debating whether it’s worth my upgrading from the 4, if you’re looking to get a new phone and a new camera maybe it’s worth going to an Apple store to have a play and combining the two purchases.

The big news?

We all thought the new iPhone would be the big news of the day, but common opinion seems to be that a 4S rather than a 5 was rather disappointing. To me Apple’s big finale though, Siri, is the most exciting thing about yesterday’s announcement.

Unlike voice recognition we might have experienced before, Siri not only hears what you’ve said, it also, according to Apple, understands it. This is a big leap. Having worked with voice technology years ago at uni I know that just perfecting the recognition part is tricky enough, to develop it to a stage where you can ask it questions like “do I need an umbrella”, as though it were a person that understands that what you mean is “search for the weather in my location and if it’s going to rain in the next x hours tell me I do need an umbrella”, is pretty amazing. If it works.

I do concede that at the moment we might think that talking to an iPhone as though it were your PA might feel a bit silly, but I suspect that in a year-or-so’s time, particularly after Apple DO launch the iPhone 5, we won’t know how we lived with out it. In a similar way to how pre-iPhone, touch screen seemed a bit Star Trek to most.

Take aways.

I’m not going to tell everyone that they need an iPhone 4S. However I’m not going to say it’s a complete let down and not worth bothering with either. If you’re sick of your 3G or 3GS or newly in the market for a smartphone I think you’ll struggle to find an android or windows handset as good as this.

And finally, for me this was still an exciting launch event, in spite of it not including the handset I was hoping for or the lovely Steve jobs. Mainly because it’s clear that Apple are still pushing the boundaries of technology, particularly pushing consumer boundaries of what we look for in our tech devices. In my opinion, one of the reasons Apple have such a dedicated fan base and are so successful in revenue and market share is their dedication to being the first device in each emerging field. Thus far other computer, tablet, mobile companies always seem to be following where Apple lead, and Apple remain just that: very much in the lead.

For more information on yesterday’s event and the newly launched products, take a look at Apple’s site. For the live fead I followed take a look here.

Team Tamar