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iPhone 4S adds better camera, voice commands, many other sweeteners

iPhone 4S fills in many of the holes that left Apple's line vulnerable to the competition. However, the iPhone 4S adds few truly new features.

By / October 4, 2011

The iPhone 4S rolls out many new features, such as voice commands and an 8 megapixel camera.



Apple kicked off its annual iPhone refresh on Tuesday, introducing the iPhone 4S. This newest handset sprinkles in many powerful features, including voice commands, a better camera, and "world phone" antennas – things that will keep the iPhone line chugging along at full speed. However, Apple used Tuesday's keynote as a chance to catch up with the competition, not as a moment to zoom past its biggest rival, Android.

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The iPhone 4S enjoys the speed and power of Apple's A5 chip, the same processor inside the iPad 2. This faster dual-core engine handles graphics seven times faster than the iPhone 4, a boon for high-resolution apps. Its new camera jumps from 5 megapixels to 8. And unlike the older model, which required shoppers to choose between a GSM or CDMA antenna, the iPhone 4S is a "world phone." That means the same device can hop between Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or nearly any network overseas.

This new antenna should improve call quality as well, says Apple. While the iPhone 4 has a history of dropping calls – remember "the death grip"? – the company says this new design allows the iPhone 4S to switch between its multiple antennas on the fly, improving call quality and data speeds.

Apple's new line up, which hits stores October 14, follows the usual pricing scheme. A white or black iPhone 4S will cost $199 (16 gigabytes), $299 (32 gigs), or $399 (for the new 64-gigabyte model). The older iPhone 4 is now $99, and the iPhone 3GS will be free. All prices assume that you sign a two-year service contract.

Apple also trotted out a new voice command feature. The free service, called Siri, will answer "natural language" questions. For example, if you ask the iPhone 4S, “What’s the weather like today?," it'll pull up the forecast. During the presentation, Apple exec Scott Forstall told Siri to find a "Greek restaurant in Palo Alto." Siri responded with “I’ve found five Greek restaurants, and I’ve sorted them by rating.”


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