By Nate Sukonik, Columnist
Apple has finally revealed its next iPhone — the iPhone 4S. What makes this device better than the iPhone 4?
The Apple fans world wide might be disenchanted that the new device does not live up to the mystique of the legendary iPhone 5, but the iPhone 4S is a theatrical leap forward in technological innovation and preeminence that will surprise mobile users — even current iPhone 4 owners.
Here are the four most significant reasons why I think the iPhone 4S is worth the price of upgrading. But if none of these speak to your inner gadget geek, perhaps a free iPhone 3GS or a one hundred dollar iPhone 4 will do the trick.
How does having your own personal assistant waiting for your every beck-and-call sound? How about a helping hand that can look up the weather, read you text messages, find you nearby restaurants, tell you the time in Paris, set your alarm clock, give you directions, check your calendar for conflicting meetings, dictate and transcribe your notes and text messages, and so on — and all you have to do is ask? Sounds amazing, right? That's Siri and it's a personal assistant built in to the iPhone 4S.
You can speak as you normally would and tell Siri to do something like set a reminder, schedule a meeting or send a text message. You can also ask Siri for traffic conditions or weather conditions — "Do I need a rain jacket? or "Is it the right weather for tanning?" for instance — and query your handy helper for any other right-here-right-now needs. Siri understands what you say, the context and meaning around who and what you mention in your requests, and is capable of responding accordingly. But Siri is exclusive to the iPhone 4S, meaning you won't get it with a simple iOS 5 upgrade.
Apple has always spoken of the camera on the iPhone as a bona fide digital camera replacement. Device owners seem to approve — the iPhone is the top camera on Flickr. But, for the first time, the iPhone camera hype matches up with reality. The iPhone 4S sports a new camera with an an 8 megapixel sensor, a new fifth lens, an enlarged aperture, face discovery and reduced motion blur. That means it legitimately rivals the specs of point-and-shoot cameras. The camera also now allows for basic photo editing, so users can crop and rotate photos, auto-enhance photos and eliminate red-eye. Specs aside, this is a camera that you'll actually want to take your photos with no sacrifices here. And for many, as Apple noted, the iPhone 4S will be the only camera they ever use. Of course, Apple also upped the quality on the video camera as well; the iPhone 4S can shoot 1080p HD video.
The iPhone 4S features Apple's custom A5 chip. This means the iPhone 4S's two processors will now split the duties of your iPhone's workload. Everything will be strikingly faster: Web pages will load twice as fast, applications will launch and run quicker, data will download at twice the speed (14.4 Mbps) and graphics will solidify more rapidly. And faster doesn't mean you'll have to compromise on battery life. The iPhone 4S battery can handle up to eight hours of talk time or 14 hours of talk time on 2G and six hours of 3G browsing or nine hours of WiFi browsing.
Are you a CDMA or GSM customer? Who knows, and who wants to worry about the network capability of their mobile device? Not me, and especially not those who travel abroad frequently. iPhone 4S customers won't have to bother with such details as the device supports both GSM and CDMA. Why would this matter? First, there's the commercial class of folks — an important market for Apple — who need a device that works in whatever country they may be in this week.
If you remember, Apple kicked off its "Let's Talk iPhone" event by running off some impressive figures. Apple CEO Tim Cook made it a point to mention that 93% of Fortune 500 companies are testing and deploying iPhones in the workplace. With CDMA and GSM support, the iPhone 4S can roam on GSM networks in 200 nations, making it even more business-appropriate.
Plus, for Apple, a phone with CDMA and GSM support simplifies its product line and will enable it to deploy on new carriers including Sprint without a second thought.