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Apple announces the iPhone 4S

Apple has announced the next-generation iPhone, the iPhone 4S. Although externally it appears identical to the iPhone 4, internally it's seen many changes. It includes the same dual-core A5 processor that debuted in the iPad 2. Its graphics processor, which is also dual-core, provides up to 7 times the graphical performance of the iPhone 4's A4 chip.

The iPhone 4S has improved battery life over its predecessor, and it now allows for 8 hours 3G talktime, 14 hours 2G talktime, and 6 hours of 3G web browsing.

The iPhone 4S's wireless system has also been tweaked; the handset will now intelligently switch between antennas for optimal performance. This not only improves signal reliability, it also doubles the theoretical maximum speed from 7.2 Mbps on the iPhone 4 to 14.4 Mbps on the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S is also now a true "world phone" with integrated chipsets for both GSM and CDMA networks. This will simplify Apple's product lineup and consumer buying decisions, as there will be only one "model" of iPhone 4S that should work on virtually any carrier in the world.

The iPhone 4S has a much-improved 8 megapixel camera that can shoot up to 3264 x 2448 images. Its backside-illuminated sensor allows it to capture 73 percent more light per pixel than the iPhone 4, and a five-element lens leads to photos that are up to 30 percent sharper than those on the iPhone 4. A new signal processor enables face detection and 26 percent better white balance. The camera also works much faster than on previous models; Apple claims it takes only 1.1 seconds to take the first photo, with subsequent shots having a delay of only half a second. The improved camera also features true 1080p HD video recording and video stabilization, a first for the iPhone.

Like the iPad 2, the iPhone 4 can now mirror its screen via AirPlay or a cable connected to the dock.

Perhaps the most anticipated feature of the iPhone 4S is its support for Siri, an "intelligent assistant" that enables recognition of voice queries and commands. We have further information on Siri itself available in a standalone post.

The iPhone 4S is available in capacities ranging from 16 all the way up to 64 GB (finally!) and pricing with a two-year contract goes from US$199 for 16 GB to $399 for 64 GB. Pre-orders begin on October 7, with the launch taking place on October 14. No mention yet on any pricing for possible unlocked models, but hopefully they will be available for those of us who don't want to or can't commit to a two-year contract.

iPhone 4S will launch on all major US carriers except T-Mobile -- Sprint is getting it -- and it will launch in US, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, and Japan on October 14. 22 more countries get the phone on the 28th, with 70 more by the end of the year.

Completely MIA from the event: the supposed iPhone 5 with a redesigned exterior. If you were waiting for a major redesign, keep waiting, because the iPhone 4S is the only thing new under the sun today.

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