What's in a Name: Apple Announces the iPhone 4S -- Not the iPhone 5

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The buzz around Apple’s announcement this morning was thick. Will it be the iPhone 5 or “just” an iPhone 4S? Will people leave their Android based phones for the the iPhone if it’s “just” a 4S? Will the world end if they don’t go with a 5 or will the world end because they didn’t follow the 3, 3G, 3GS, 4s, 5 pattern that they could have created if they’d gone with the 4S? Now the wondering is over and it is official: Apple announced the iPhone 4S this morning. The world did not end. Let’s see what this new iPhone has to offer.

First and foremost, welcome to the iPhone, Sprint customers. As if that wasn’t news enough in itself, here are the new specs that Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, announced. People will be buzzing about:

    iPhone 4
  • The outside may look the same, but the inside is all new with an A5 chip / dual core processor and graphics, meaning up to 7x faster (great for gaming).
  • Battery is better with 8 hours of 3G talk, 14 hours of 2G talking, 6 hours of browsing, and 9 hours of Wifi.
  • Wireless system: Intelligently switches between two antennas to transmit and receive. Should reduce dropped calls and improve quality.
  • Can download data 2x as fast.
  • Worldphone
  • 8 megapixel camera (WOO!): 3264x2448. Print out 8x10 photo. 60% more pixels than in iPhone 4 sensor. Also gets 73% more light than iPhone 4 (for photographers, it’s a “really wide” 2.4 -- can I get a 1.8, Apple?). Fancy things like face detection and a ⅓ faster camera in general.
  • Improving video by providing 1080p, real-time video image stabilization, and real-time temporal noise reduction.
  • AirPlay.
  • Siri: The assistant that gets things done just by asking. Talking to your phone with real results. Example: Ask your phone, “What’s the weather like?” Siri gives you the forecast. Will also read your messages to you! Finally. Integrated into many things with iOS 5. Lots of potential here to reduce any hands-on-the-phone usage in a vehicle. Will launch as Beta App.

You can pre-order the iPhone 4S starting October 7, 2011 with the official launch on October 14. The prices are pretty standard: 16GB for $199, 32GB for $299 and the 64GB for $399. What's of interest is that the iPhone 4 prices are dropping: now available in Black and white for just $99. The iPhone 3GS in 8GB: free (with contract), which is the first "free" iPhone. Ever.

And so it comes down to the big question: Will people who were expecting an iPhone 5 announcement be turned off by the iPhone 4S? Will some neglect to upgrade since it doesn’t “look different” from the iPhone 4? Maybe. But the typical user will just see something shiny and new. Considering the specs are mostly what we were expecting for the rumored iPhone 5, the only thing that is different is the name.

The very lengthy announcement also included information about iCloud (download once and it's on all your devices), auto iCloud backups (restore straight from the cloud) and Find My Friends (kids can't turn it off so you can find them -- wow). There were also iPod Nano (new clock faces so you can wear it as a ... watch?) and Touch updates (Touch is now available in white). They also shared a lot of information about iOS5 which will be available for download on October 12th.

And so it comes down to the big question: Will people who were expecting an iPhone 5 announcement be turned off by the iPhone 4S? Maybe. But the typical user will just see something shiny and new. Considering the specs are mostly what we were expecting for the rumored iPhone 5, the only thing that is different is the name.

If AT&T changed my upgrade date, I’d get one as soon as possible. Until then, I look forward to petting one as soon as one of my friends grabs on one the October 14th launch date.

Will you be upgrading to or purchasing (for the first time or coming back to) an iPhone 4S? Why or why not? Does the name 4S have any effect on your decision?


Family Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She thinks the S in 4S stands for Shiny. Or Sexy. She is a writer, editor and photographer.

Photo Credit: mrdoubtfire. Note: It's an iPhone 4, but it's going to look exactly like that.

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