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New AI-toting iPhone is here

Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone, called the 4S (S stands for speed, by the looks of it) is finally upon us. The successor to iPhone 4, the 4S, looks just like the former device, but sports better innards and camera.

tech reviews Updated: Oct 07, 2011 18:41 IST
Nikhil Hemrajani

Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone, called the 4S (S stands for speed, by the looks of it) is finally upon us. The good news is that Cupertino, a California based company, has fixed whatever was broken in the iPhone 4. The bad news is that that’s pretty much all that Apple’s done.

To start off, Apple’s mostly lived up to expectations. The iPhone 4S has the same 1GHz dual-core A5 processor also present in the new iPad. This along with an upgraded graphics processor promises up to seven times faster performance if you’re playing games. What this means for you is that the next time you’re playing the game Infinity Blade, or its upcoming sequel Infinity Blade 2, you’ll notice much better visuals and far fewer stutters.

The next improvement will really appease the camera buffs. According to photo-blogging website Flickr.com, the iPhone is at the #1 position as far as popularity is concerned. To ensure that the phone stays at that spot, Apple has bumped up the image resolution to eight megapixels. The camera now has a larger aperture of f2.4, there are five lens elements for better sharpness and the sensor sports backlight illumination to improve upon the camera’s lowlight performance. Finally, there’s also 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second.

The third and most important new feature, Siri, is a voice-controlled intelligent assistant that will understand whatever you say and reply with relevant information. Ask it whether you need an umbrella or tell it to remind you to call mom when you get home and it’ll diligently show you the forecast and set a reminder in your calendar respectively. Although this is a software feature, it appears that Siri will only be available on the 4S for now, and not on Apple’s other iOS devices like the iPod touch, iPhone 4 or current-generation iPad.

The iPhone 4 is scheduled to launch in seven countries including the US on October 14 for a starting price of $ 199 (R 9,000 approx) under carrier contract. There has been no word on a contract-free unlocked iPhone 4S yet.

iOS 5, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system will launch on October 12 for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, iPad 1 and 2, and current-generation iPod touch. This, iOS 5 brings with it iMobile, a chat application for iOS devices similar to RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger service. Other features include a new Android-like notification centre, over-the-air software updates, wireless syncing called iCloud, and system-wide Twitter integration amongst other things.

What’s missing?
Near-field communication is a wireless standard similar to RFID (radio frequency identification) that’s used in shopping malls and ID cards. Mobile phones from Google and Nokia already include this in their mobile phones.

Many tech blogs predicted that the iPhone 4 successor would possibly sport a 1280x720 resolution screen, but the 4S’ screen remains the same.

Critics speak
Despite upgrades to its internal components and some new software capabilities, the iPhone 4S looks like its predecessor physically and doesn't make a big leap in its overall capabilities.
— WSJ.com

I was hoping for something bold and interesting looking... Siri? That looks like the most amazing thing I'll never use. Like Facetime, which sits in the sad panda corner of my iPad 2 hoping one day that I'll touch it.
—Gizmodo.com

It’s a measure of how Apple has habituated its legions of fans to regular, eye-catching design changes that the news about the latest version of the iPhone qualified as a disappointment for some.
—NYtimes.com

It’s no totally new “iPhone 5,” mind you; Apple’s revamped iPhone 4S brings an incremental hardware upgrade to the popular iPhone 4. But the 4S’ stat boost is no slouch, adding a host of beefier under-the-hood specs to an already impressive device.
—Wired.com

We tried to psych it (Siri) out with a bunch of random requests, including the history of Chester, Vermont (a lovely town) and the best Ramen places in San Francisco. Siri never faltered, never missed a beat.
—Engadget.com