iPhone, Therefore I am

iPhone, Therefore I am

Apple makes headlines with its much-anticipted new iPhone

The two biggest items of tech news this month both came from the Apple camp in the US. Firstly, we lost visionary Steve Jobs, who was in worse health than anybody realised. Secondly, we gained a new iPhone model, the 4S, which seems to pre-empt the much-anticipated iPhone 5 that has been running on the rumour mill for months.

The new model looks and feels suspiciously the same as its predecessor the iPhone 4, so what is Apple up to?

Has its strategy fallen into a heap with the loss of its great leader?

And will anybody buy this model before the inevitable release of the iPhone 5 trumps it? It hasn't officially arrived in Thailand yet, as we might have to wait until around the end of the year, but let's peek at the 4S to answer these questions and more as iPhone mania grips the world once again.

FORM

As mentioned, Apple has housed the 4S in an almost identical body as its big brother, the iPhone 4, albeit 3g heavier. So your iPhone 4 case should fit on the new model, unless it's super snug around some of the buttons, which have moved a few nanometres here and there. Apple exhibited a similar strategy with the release of the iPhone 3S that has the same form as the S. Cynics might propose that the "S" stands for suckers, and Apple is reeling in the loyal fans who must have every Apple release, regardless of its practicality. But inside the phone is where the magic begins.

FUNCTION

The internal workings have had almost a complete overhaul. For a start, the engine is now a dual-core A5 processor as found in the iPad 2. It's not clocked at quite the speed of the tablet, but with less graphics demands should keep things smooth as silk. RAM stays the same at 512MB, and storage has blown up to an impressive 64GB, and the camera has been bumped to eight megapixels _ perhaps overdue. The lens is also faster at f/2.4, which will make for less grainy photos in the dark.

The other improvement of note is the new iOS 5 that ships with the model. It's also available elsewhere, but what better place to test it than with a new phone. And on the iPhone 4S it features Siri, a voice-activated program that is basically a personal assistant that responds to casual demands and then remembers the directives for next time. It's not brand new technology, and still needs a few kinks ironed out, but with the Apple stamp on it, it's a warm welcome to a more interactive personal mobile phone experience, particularly SMS and email. Time will tell as to its usefulness in Thailand as a local information source.

The battery is promised to last an extra hour, which is needed and more than welcome.

VERDICT

In typical fashion, Apple has said it's the best iPhone ever, as you would hope from the latest model. And the company is right. It's faster, more efficient and takes better photos, but whether current iPhone users should rush out and upgrade right away is a point of contention. Those looking to take on the new form and are sick of their iPhone 3S could be persuaded, but others might wait until the iPhone 5 next year to upgrade.


The Apple iPhone 4S is available in black or white with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB in the US unlocked for US$649 (20,000 baht), $749 and $849 respectively (next month), and in the UK for 499 (24,700 baht), 599 and 699. Thai pricing is expected to be around 22,000 to 30,000 baht, available officially around the end of the year. Email richardm@bangkokpost.co.th with any gadget thoughts.

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