On Tuesday Apple held their “Lets Talk iPhone” and did not just talk iPhone. The company not only announced the iPhone 4S but also debuted the updates to the iPod Nano and iPod Touch as well as details about iOS 5 at the event.
If we’re going to dig into the news of this event we’ll have to do it in parts. First, lets talk about the iPods. The iPod Touch isn’t really getting a hardware update but it is getting iOS 5 as well as a new white color. The 8GB base model will drop from $229 down to $199 but the other models will remain priced at $299 for the 32GB and $399 for the 64GB. The updated Touch will be shipping by October 12th in both colors.
The iPod Nano also got minor updates and a new pricing structure. The models will now be priced at $129 (8GB) and $149 (16GB), down from $149 (8GB) and $179 (16GB). Some software updates that make the device easier to navigate and add 16 clock faces for those who like to wear it around their wrist. The navigation update allows the user to swipe between apps instead of only viewing them on a grid.
Perhaps most notable of all the iPod news is the fact that Apple will not be discontinuing the iPod Classic. It will still be sold under the current pricing structure and isn’t receiving any updates.
Now lets move on to the new iPhone hardware. There weren’t really any surprises coming from Apple at this event that weren’t already leaked out or heavily rumored. The new device is called the iPhone 4S and it retains the exact body style that iPhone 4 is already sporting. It’s getting a pretty sizable update in terms of processing power in the form of the 1GHz dual core A5 chip. It will also have a dual core GPU on board and Apple is pushing hard that it is the go to mobile platform for games with this type of hardware.
The 4S does not have 4G LTE capability on board but Apple is claiming that doesn’t matter. The company talked briefly about a new technology allowing them to switch between two antennas to get speeds comparable to that of 4G LTE. That’s a nice little claim but I’m going to have to see that in action to really believe it.
Presumably the reason Apple didn’t want to include a LTE chip on the 4S is that it would have drawn too much power for their liking, thus pushing down the battery life on the device. The company claims the 4S will see 8 hours of talk time over 3G, 14 hours over 2G, 6 hours of browsing over 3G, 9 hours via Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback, and 40 hours of music playback. We’ll have to wait for the actual device to come out to find out if those numbers come true.
So when will we see the iPhone 4S and to which carriers? Preorders for the device will begin on October 7th and the phone will begin shipping on October 14th. Both Verizon and AT&T will carry the phone, as expected but Apple also announced that Sprint would be stocking the 4S on October 14th. After heavy rumors of Sprint’s investment in whatever device was coming from Apple this isn’t so much a surprise as a confirmation.
The last thing worth discussing is iOS 5. Apple made a big show of their new mobile OS which will come free to the iPhone 4, 4S, iPod Touches (newest version with the retina display and cameras), as well as both iterations of the iPad. The fact is not much of what Apple was showing was really new. The company has discussed all of the features of iOS 5 and iCloud (which was also on display) before. There were two new pieces of information about the iOS 5. First, it’s coming October 12th. Second, it will include voice recognition software called Siri.
Siri isn’t exactly new technology but it is an impressive piece of voice recognition software. Apple showed off asking Siri a variety of questions like what the best restaurants in a given area are and Siri returned ranked results quickly, and correctly. The software can also control most features of iOS allowing it to read back messages, schedule meetings, and make phone calls. It’s very impressive and also very processor intensive. Apple is saying iPhone 4 owners won’t be able to use Siri, it will only be available to those who purchase the 4S. The company made no mention of support for the software on the iPad 2 which has the exact same A5 chip that the 4S is getting. I’d like to see the technology migrate to the iPad because I think it makes sense there with all of the capabilities of that tablet.
Overall the event was a little boring and entirely predictable. Apple didn’t really show us anything that hadn’t already been announced or strongly rumored. Even the voice recognition technology was something expected even if it was very impressive to see demonstrated.
Do you care about the iPhone 4S or iOS5? More importantly if you already own the iPhone 4 is this worth the upgrade for you? Let us know what you think in the comments.