iPhone

No iPhone 5: Voice-recognition and upgrades roll out as iPhone 4S

Rumors of the iPhone 5 fell short. Apple announced instead the iPhone 4S with feature upgrades and the addition of voice-recognition software. Here's the scoop.

It turns out the announcement in Cupertino was not the iPhone 5, as generally believed, but a significant upgrade in features that Apple is releasing as iPhone 4S.

iPhone 4S offers the Siri voice-recognition app, which among the upgrades and other features, is the one designed to elicit all the oohs and ahs. While Apple describes it as your "intelligent assistant" that responds to your voice commands, my guess is it will disappoint those who expect a personal assistant to be able to fetch them a non-fat latte.

Siri facts in a nutshell:

  • Allows you to set reminders and appointments via voice
  • Able to to respond to and use more human-like, natural language
  • Supports English, French and German to start, with more languages to be added later

Other talking points from the presentation:

  • The 4S will be available on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint; pre-orders to begin Oct. 7 and launching on Oct. 14 (U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., France, Germany, and Japan)
  • Revamped camera: Now 8-megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS sensor (3,264 x 2,448 resolution), 60 percent more pixels, and it snaps photos a third quicker than before
  • The same processor as the iPad 2, a dual-core A5 chip
  • Better battery life

Pricing options for the 4S:

  • 16GB for $199
  • 32GB for $299
  • 64GB for $399
  • The iPhone 4 moves to $99.
  • The iPhone 3GS is now free.

So what do you think of today's announcement? Underwhelmed? Can't wait to tell your phone what to do?

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Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

32 comments
number cruncher
number cruncher

I bought a Samsung Droid Charge to use on Verizon's 4G LTE network. Disappointing is the only word I can use to describe it. 4G streaming...forget it. Battery life is drained quickly us 4G and frankly, in my personal experience I didn't see anywhere NEAR the 10 times performance improvement Verizon advertises. After a week using it, I did decide to invest in a second battery however as I frequently could not get through a single day due to the poor battery life. If all of that isn't enough, the phone would lock up and require battery removal to clear it, the touch screen wasn't always immediately responsive to the direction of my gesture and sometimes would even go a different direction. I finally gave up in frustration and purchased an iPhone 4s. Yes, the screen is smaller, however after using it for two weeks I can say it has performed flawlessly and the internet is FASTER on this 3G phone than it was on the 4G Droid Charge! While Samsung has done a nice job with it's Galaxy line of phones and tablets (probably the best of anyone in the Android market), at the end of the day they still seem like Apple "wanna-bes"! For the record, I have never been an Apple user. I have been a staunch PC user since Windows 3.0! I have never used an iPod, iPhone or iPad prior to this purchase. I haven't even use iTunes before now!!! In short, I avoided ALL THINGS Apple until the purchase of my 4s. Now I'm wondering if that was the best decision! At least this phone coupled with iTunes 10.5 has made me want to stop and consider what Apple has to offer the next time I have to purchase a computer! By the way, in response to earlier criticism of Siri, you don't HAVE to ASK it a question..."like a NERD" as someone put it. You can just say text Joe.."be there in five." or call Sally and it will flawlessly dial her number. The addition of an 8 mega pixel camera and full 1080p HD video, a model with 64GB storage capacity, optional iCloud, Siri and an a slightly improved retina display for a $349.99 two-yr agreement price at Verizon's online store make this a much better value than the Droid Charge was at $369.99 when I bought mine.

iavhora
iavhora

I m from Gujarat, India. I want to buy iphone 4S.i want to buy this phone in $(dollar). Now Booking available in UK.In UK its price is of $199 (16 GB), $299 (32 GB) and $399 (64 GB) . Plz informe me about the unlocking procesure in India. All GSM Network available in this phone ??And any security retated problems than tell me.. I hope U know the price difference between India & UK . I want to buy Iphone 4S (Black) in 10,000 to 15,000 in Indian Currency .It is possible or not ? If yes then reply to me as earliest as possible. Thanks & Regards. Irfan Vhora

echomikedelta7775
echomikedelta7775

This is to the guy who made the comment that apple engineers do everything different than other engineers...stop drinking the Koolaid ya idiot. The only thing Apple did better than other phone and tablet makers is creating a huge hype machine that the multitudes of dumbasses bought into... Boy I sure do love taking my mp3's and using them on any device with no troubles...

JJFitz
JJFitz

According to the demo, Siri can supposedly understand free form speech. "Tell me what the weather will be like in Boston on Thursday." is supposed to work and if you follow up with "How about Houston?", it is supposed to deliver Thursday's weather information for Houston. If that is true, then that is indeed quite a feat. The next step would be to allow text input into Siri. (which it does not currently have) Let's face it, there are times when it would be inconvenient, rude, dorky, etc.. to talk to your phone in public. Imagine typing "What time am I free on Thurday?" and having the application a) know that you are talking about next Thursday. b) understand that you are not looking for the first free slot (12:01 AM) c) ask you if you want to book a meeting for the time slot d) ask you who you want to invite to the meeting. Yes, you can go to your calendar and hunt an peck but typing out a sentence is much more natural. That would be revolutionary.

hws1947
hws1947

My understanding is that only with the AT&T flavor iPhone can you have true multitasking while on a phone call. If you go with Verizon it's not possible; and now I assume with Sprint. Wondering if the iPhone 5 will make multi-tasking possible with the other carriers?

tech_ed
tech_ed

I don't get the excitement of voice recognition...like everything else the iPhone comes out with, voice recognition has been there and done that! I've been using voice dialing on my cellphones ever since my Motorola Microtac back in the 90s! Both my HTC 8550 and Tilt have voice recognition...I use it all the time. I tell my phone to dial certain numbers (call john smith at home) Play music (play Kate Bush) or create a meeting (new meeting) I've been doing this for years on my WinMo phones. Now that the iPhone has it, it's a big deal! Well, no it's not! Heck, I've been using voice recognition on my computers ever since the 80s!

TNT
TNT

The real step forward with this phone is for Apple, not the consumer. By building a dual-antenna phone that will work on most North American carriers it decreases costs for manufacturing. Yes the hardware upgrades are nice but they are not exemplary. It still is just a phone tho, unlike my Atrix which I can dock and use as a Linux desktop. All in all the 4S is very -- dare I say it? -- average.

rtrujillo
rtrujillo

...and means that my next phone will be an Android (again).

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Apple's own history of the iPhone should have said differently. iPhone; iPhone 3G; iPhone 3G(s); iPhone 4; iPhone 4S; it still follows the pattern Apple has set. I really don't see how anybody could be disappointed by the announcement, not even the anti-Apple zealots; they get to crow how Apple didn't release a "5" That said, I believe the iPhone 4S has again leapt ahead of its Android counterparts. In sales, the iPhone 4 and 3G(s) take the #1 and #2 spots; the iPhone 4S should make it a perfecta, especially when the 3G(s) is not available for FREE (with contract). Ok, true, the 3G is still limited to AT&T--people who couldn't afford it before can get it now. The iPhone 4 is still available at half its original price which makes it more affordable for those once unwilling to pay the $200 for the AT&T or Verizon versions. Now, the 4S is available on Sprint as well and capable of downloading at 14.4Mbps--more than 4x faster than previously even without "true" 4G capability by taking advantage if the 'fake' 4G that both AT&T and Verizon have been promoting for over a year. Disappointed by voice command? By everything I've read and heard, Siri is based on the best and most reliable voice command software. Based on the presentation, it's also far more usable for multiple purposes which means you won't be driving illegally as you use your iPhone to text, search for dining, make phone calls or many other tasks that you had to pull over for previously (or risk getting a ticket--or worse, crash into someone else.) What's interesting here is that for once, Apple managed to maintain secrecy and the so-called hype was all generated by people out of the loop, so Apple cannot be blamed for the hype which led up to this announcement. Disappointed? I'm not. I think the 4S is an evolutionary step moving the iPhone and iOS back towards the lead in mobile OS sales. Too many reports are demonstrating Android's failure to keep up.

msdamico
msdamico

So the NEW iPhone 4S has raised the bar to last year's Android phones. They had better get the REAL iPhone 5 out soon if they don't want to lose their customer base.

jsaubert
jsaubert

... they offer an updated iPod touch with a data plan like the iPad. I'll switch back then. Mind you I like the additions to the "new" iPhone but it's really the plan that keeps me away. You think Apple with what is supposed to be a corner on the market would have more sway over telecom providers.

yelnoc
yelnoc

I'm a Sprint EVO user, why would I go to a 3G phone, I don't need ITunes on my phone I have the new ITouch. I keep my android for a while longer. If Sprint has to buy all of those 30M as 4S, well I don't think that is happening. Must of us have had voice recognition dialing and not used it for years.

JJFitz
JJFitz

when you let it go and it flies around the room? That's what I heard when they announced the iPhone 4s and not the 5. This device didn't raise the smartphone bar in any significant way. Siri is less useful than people think. Who's going to ask their phone questions while in public? - only dorks 4g would have been much more useful for finding information quickly. Where are the turn by turn directions? and that screen is looking smaller and smaller every day.

stuart.fraser
stuart.fraser

Totally underwhelmed, voice recognition - zzzzz.............. Apple have been the victim of their own over-hyped publicity.

stephena
stephena

People like you are just useless. You think useless thoughts and then say useless things. Or maybe you don't even think at all. Anytime someone has to berate another TR reader or anyone for that matter, proves that he/she is the idiot. If you can't say something constructive or something that we can debate about then don't say it. It's just so funny how you claim that the reason why apple is #1 in tablet, smart phone, mp3 sales is all because of some "hype machine". Is that really their secret? To create a "super hype machine"...lol? If it's that easy, then you create something similar so that millions of "dumb" people can buy your product. If apple products were just "hype" then at some point people would stop using and buying them. I'm not even sure why I'm writing so much to you. You're just an apple hater and whiner for whatever sad reason. For the rest of the readers here, let me go on record saying that I am a microsoft, android, apple, and all other technology fan. All I'm trying to say here is that apple does something right every time!

JJFitz
JJFitz

I am pretty sure that some of the 3g Androids on Verizon can multi-task. So it may be possible that the iPhone 4s will be able to. Frankly, although I can do it on my Android on 4g, I have never found an ocassion where that would be useful.

JJFitz
JJFitz

The ability to manufacture one phone with a dual antenna is a good thing for Apple. I am not a cell technology expert but is that why they couldn't make a 4G phone? Was making all flavors of "4g" (LTE, WiMax, ??) work on one phone was too much for Apple to fit in a small package? That and the power requirements?

belli_bettens
belli_bettens

Why is it that if someone at Apple says: "We've come up with an entirely new feature, something you've never seen before", the whole crowd goes in some kind of Jedi enabled trance, grab their iPads and start blogging about these "amazing" features, totally oblivious for the fact that they already existed for years. Just not on iPhones....

JJFitz
JJFitz

In order for a pattern to be established there should be a recurring element which relates each object to a previous and a subsequent object. Given the sequence iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, please explain the recurring element and predict the next object.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I'm still getting 20Mbps download and 8Mbps upload on my Android. Faking it works.

billyr423
billyr423

Androids failure to keep up? What like my Samsung Galaxy SII, or even my previous HTC Desire, both of which have excellent cameras and voice recognition? The same voice recognition that lets me dial friends hands free, use my satnav hands free, send texts or even search the web using google hands free. Yeah that's a real new concept by Apple. It must of took them ages to think of it. Trust me using voice recognition is nothing to shout about, after the initial fun of using it wears off you soon go back to doing things the traditional way. Never mind the same mugs will still queue up to by one.

KBabcock75
KBabcock75

Apple is using two 3G channels to achieve 4G speed while improving battery life by 40%. This is really pretty smart. You get the speed without the penalty that 4G users get. It will be nice to have a 4G speed phone that can last the day. You don't use something if it is more work then it is worth, the Voice system here will change that equation.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Probably 1 in 20 people at the demo are Apple employees who are planted there to act as cheerleaders. It's like a high school pep I laughed my head off when Jobs spent 20 minutes showing off the magical iPad 2 cover that puts the device to sleep when you lay it over the screen. They are called magnets and RIM has been using them in their cases to put their blackberries on vibrate and turn off the screen for years! And OMG! OMG! OMG! notifications at the top of the iPhone screen. This is an incredible feature the likes of which we have never seen on any other smartphone! and wait for it... wait for it... A WHITE iPhone! How did they do it?! The demos are actually very entertaining. :) Dialog at next event: You have all been asking for it. Everybody said it couldn't be done. But we worked our tails off and here it is. I give you FIRE! (queue up the insane applause)

stephena
stephena

I agree with you somewhat about Apple not coming up with a new concept in the voice space, but I have a few questions for you to ponder. Did apple come out with the first mp3 player? the first tablet? the first smart phone? And yet, they dominated all 3 markets...lol. I am not a pro-apple dude but at some point you have to face the facts. Apple engineers technology completely different than any other company on this globe and that is why they end up dominating the markets!!! I'm not sure if Siri will be as good as they say or will outperform it's competitors, but based on history, you can bet the bank that it will. I'm still on the fence of going with the 4S.

tech_ed
tech_ed

I use voice recognition on my 3 year old HTC Tilt running WinMo 6.1. Not for everything mind you, because ambient noise will always mess up voice recognition. But for simple things like dialing numbers (calling numbers from the address book is very accurate) or playing music that is on my phone works most of the time...but like I said, background noise screws all this up...and I don't think Apple has come up with a better noise cancelling device for this phone.

stephena
stephena

I agree that adding a 2nd antenna was brilliant. I am most likely upgrading to the 4S, but does that mean we will get cancer twice as fast now? lol I'm being a bit extreme, but you have to start thinking about long term effects of the radiation coming out of these antennas... no?

JJFitz
JJFitz

I'm getting 20Mbps download and 8Mbps upload on my Android on 4g. My battery lasts all day because I bought a $4 app that manages it for me. It's a small price to pay for a faster phone with a much larger screen. The iPhone screen looks like it is getting smaller and smaller. I know it is because there are so many smartphones with larger screens.

tech_ed
tech_ed

Yeah...but what good is 4g speeds when all the carriers are capping data? It's kinda like drag racing indoors...pointless really!

pacfreeman
pacfreeman

You should be on a decent tariff like 3 in the UK - what they call "all you can eat data" - so unlimited downloads :-)

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