Apple unveils next-gen iPhone

James Porter Campbell

Apple last week unveiled the highly anticipated update to its impossibly successful iPhone line of smart phones. At an intimate event held on its Cupertino Campus in California, the decidedly anti-climatic device was launched to a small group of media. Those expecting a complete design overhaul were disappointed, as the new device, named the 4S (S here stands for speed), is externally indistinguishable from the device it replaces, the 4.

However, Apple insists that a lot of work has gone into redesigning the phones internals, highlighting the devices’ “incredible new features” that Apple promise make it “the most amazing iPhone yet” (no surprises there).

Without a sample device to test these claims on, we will have to take Apples word for it, for now. Though here is a run-down of the key features that made it into the new phone, and why you will all probably want one:

 A5 Dual-Core Chip

Apple has taken the widely praised and staggeringly fast dual-core A5 chip from the iPad 2 and transplanted it into the tiny body of the iPhone 4. What this brings to the device is a promised doubling of speed. Though this was never one of the 4’s drawbacks, the extra boost will certainly not go amiss.

Where the specs of the A5 chip really get interesting is in the graphics department. Now with an extra core to play with, games and graphic-intensive apps will enjoy “up to 7 times faster” graphics over the previous generation. For gamers this will come as a significant upgrade, and Epic Games joined the stage at launch to demo the visually stunning Infinity Blade 2 running exclusively on the new device.

8 Megapixel Camera

The iPhone 4 introduced a fantastic camera into our pockets. With the 4S, Apple have included what they claim to be “the most advanced optics of any phone”, with 8 megapixels improving on the previous generations 5. This offers 60 percent more pixels, which will give even more depth and detail to the iPhones photos. A new lens and larger aperture with Infrared Filter produce sharper and brighter images, stunning samples of which were shown off during the launch. The new camera is also capable of recording video in full 1080p HD resolution.

HSPA+ and New Antennae

Who remembers the antennae-gate shenanigans following last years iPhone launch? Though blown beyond all proportion, it is a fact that the previous iPhones’ antennae design left the phone with problematic signal strength and stability. This is a thing of the past, or so Apple will tell you, as the all-new antennae design in the 4S removes that vulnerability. They’ve also thrown in HSPA+ mobile data, a technology some refer to as 4G, which if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with coverage, will improve the speed with which you can stream videos and music over the air.

Siri Voice assistant

Voice control has been touted as the “next big thing” since computers started showing up in our homes. Though for anyone who has spent time shouting frustratingly at their PC will tell you, the technology has as yet been thoroughly useless. This was all set to change as Apple acquired Siri, an advanced voice control software company. This technology has now found its way into the new device, and promises to be the voice control dream we have all been waiting for. Branded as “your virtual personal assistant”, the software is super-smart. It’s location aware, which means you can ask it where your nearest post-office is, for instance. It also learns from you habits, so tell it to remember your dads’ birthday on the 5th May, and it will set up a calendar event for the day, and also remind you as the date approaches. This is all performed with astonishing accuracy and using a slick interface, fully encompassing Apples “it just works” philosophy.

There’s plenty more to get excited about, as Apple launches its update to iOS alongside the new handset. With this comes iCloud, the de facto cloud backup and sync solution, which will share all of your digital content seamlessly and automatically across all of your devices.

The iPhone 4S launches in the UK on October 14th and is expected to cost £499 for the 16gb model without contract and is available in both white and black.

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