iPhone

Apple iPhone 4S: Digging into the hardware updates

Wil Limoges talks about the iPhone 4S features that he thinks are the most significant.

Tim Cook took the stage at Apple’s Cupertino Town Hall to announce the iPhone 4S, which may or may not have been a significant upgrade to the iPhone 4 depending on who you ask or how you look at it. If you were to ask me, I’d say that it is not only a significant upgrade in terms of performance and capabilities, but a monumental one in terms of technology.

If you missed all the buzz, here is a quick run down of some of the significant features that we will see in the iPhone 4S and iOS 5.
  • A5 dual-core processor with upgraded graphics
  • 8 Megapixel camera with facial recognition for stills and 1080p video recording
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • An additional capacity increase of 64 GB
  • World phone containing both GSM/CDMA
  • Dual antenna switching
  • iMessage
  • Siri personal assistant
As far as an upgrade is concerned the iPhone 4S doesn’t appear on the surface very different from the iPhone 4, however, the internals have been completely overhauled. Powering the iPhone 4S is the dual-core A5 chip currently used in the iPad 2, aiding in running and launching applications much more quickly, as well as providing a significant upgrade to on-screen graphics which future games and graphic applications will take advantage of. The camera in the iPhone 4S has also been updated to 8 megapixels and has a custom five lens configuration along with a larger aperture providing sharper images and which will allow the iPhone 4s to take better pictures in low light situations. The new camera also allows for faster image capture thanks to the A5 processor as well as 1080p video recording.

Network flexibility

Another addition to the iPhone 4S’s hardware is that the phone can now use both CDMA as well as GSM. This is huge in so many ways. Consider this, you purchase your iPhone 4S and later on down the road you no longer want to stay with AT&T for whatever reason. Before iPhone 4S, your only option would have been to switch from AT&T to T-Mobile by hacking your phone or purchasing a new iPhone on Verizon’s network. Now with the iPhone 4S, you not only can migrate from AT&T to Verizon, technically, you can move to any of the four networks. How this will actually play out once the phone hits the market is yet to be seen but it is likely that at some point Apple will offer a contract-free unlocked version of the iPhone 4S as it has in the past. The second advantage to having both CDMA and GSM capabilities is that the iPhone 4S is now a world phone. What this means is there are truly no limits to where you can go with your phone so long as the location has coverage by any cellular carrier in the world. Beyond that it also will allow you to roam between the two network types, so if you find that you are in an area where there is limited coverage by one network such as AT&T, it is possible for you to switch to Verizon or Sprint’s network if they have coverage in that area. The last but definitely not the least of the iPhone 4S hardware updates I’m going to discuss is the wireless switching capability of the phone. The iPhone 4S can intelligently switch between two antennas when sending and receiving data, allowing the device to appear to have 4G-like speeds on the slower 3G network. It probably won’t be long before other vendors follow suit, but this is a clear advantage because Apple can advertise its handset as having 4G speeds with the power consumption of a 3G handset. The iPhone 4S has many new tricks up its sleeve and in no time we will have assimilated these tricks into our daily lives. The iPhone 4S with all of the great new hardware will have the potential to further propel Apple as the number one smartphone producer in the world.

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About

Wil Limoges is a Louisville, KY freelance web designer and Digital Savant at the vimarc group. He has had the pleasure of working for Apple as a Genius, loves science, and aspires to make great things!

8 comments
rhonin
rhonin

Chuckle I really want to see this work in a real location like ..... LA Why do I suspect this is more of a "gimmick" than a usable function.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

The Motorola Photon also is a dual core world phone with CDMA/GSM capabilities. Let's get some facts straight: This does not mean that I can roam on any old tower just because the hardware can do it. Carriers don't have all of those details worked out. Currently there is no way to track a native CDMA phone through GSM networks. The GSM and WCDMA radio are only used overseas. If you want to use GSM towers you will need a SIM card that is registered on those networks. If you want to use CDMA towers then you need to have your IMEI registered with a provider. So if you purchased this iPhone from a GSM service provider you are not going to be able to easily use it with Verizon or Sprint. You would have to at least convice them to program it for use on their network and frankly the people in the store won't know how and will refuse to assign your number to the device. It's not like a SIM card that can simply be put in and go. In conclusion, if you purchase the device from a CDMA provider it would be much easier to make it work with a GSM provider because you don't have to tell them what kind of phone you are using. You could also go back to your original provider after removing the SIM card.

richardw66
richardw66

You suspect this is a gimmick because you wish to criticise something without the tech skills to achieve your goal. I doubt it is a gimmick, I suspect that the advantage of antenna switching is the ability to get the best reception. This is why other devices use dual antenna designs. These are definitely not gimmicks. The HSDPA speed increase is not quite due to using 2 antennas at once from what I can see. So the gimmick you are referring to is what exactly? So rhonin, what led you to post this stupid comment twice?

richardw66
richardw66

Yes - you are right - roaming from one network to the other won't be likely, may be possible but the networks will find a way to make it impossible. Theoretically a GSM phone can roam between carriers, and in practice it happens with some networks, so you could have 2 accounts at once with one SIM, but the carriers will not register another carrier's sim to their network. What will happen is that the CDMA phone outlets will learn to provision iPhones because they are selling them as CDMA devices. So provisioning a phone previously used on GSM on a CDMA network will be something they will know. A bit like how my iPhone 3GS sim ended up in my iPhone 4 as a micro-sim. Yep - really!!! It was quick and painless.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

The process to authenticate on a CDMA network is called provisioning and it is pushed down from the central servers to the device that matches a valid IMEI. The central server will not accept an IMEI that is not in it's database. This is why you can't use a Verizon phone on a Sprint account. They are technically the same hardware (CDMA radios).

mike.gordon
mike.gordon

I agree this isn't just a gimmick , but how many ordinary users will ever have any use for this function ? Very few i suspect. I certainly see no good reson to upgrade to a 4S

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Yes, I did mean to say that they won't know how to get a GSM device provisioned on their network mainly because it won't work. Not because it can't. It won't work because as I mentioned above they track serial numbers and won't let you use a phone purchased from another carrier. Perhaps the day will come when phones are phones and carriers don't care but until that day you might want to go talk to Cricket. They also use CDMA phones and they usually have to flash the firmware to get foriegn devices to function on their network.

robo_dev
robo_dev

My 3GS is a bit slow, the battery life is terrible, and the camera is good, but not in low light. The display on the 4 and 4S is soooo much nicer, the camera is better, and there are new apps and capabilities that look like fun.

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