Apple iPhone 4S (preview)

The iPhone 4S is the iPhone 4 on steroids. Does it offer enough to continue Apple's domination?

A new iPhone is here and it’s called the iPhone 4S. Featuring an identical physical design to the previous iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S (like the iPhone 3GS before it) is betting on upgraded internals win over the crowd. Along with a dual-core CPU and a dual-core GPU, the iPhone 4S also includes a new 8-megapixel camera with backside-illuminated sensor.

Read our iPhone 4 review and check out our guide to the best upcoming smartphones in 2011.

Feature: Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs. Apple iPhone 4S

The Apple iPhone 4S looks identical to its predecessor. It features the same “retina” display, the same glass back and the same square design with sharp edges. Apple has not changed any physical aspects of the design and is banking on upgraded internals to sell the iPhone 4S.

Under the hood, the iPhone 4S now has a dual-core A5 processor, along with a dual-core GPU to speed up gaming. According to Apple, this makes graphics performance up to seven times faster than the iPhone 4.

The iPhone 4S also gets a revamped antenna around the sides. Apple says it switched between two different sets of antennae to provide better reception and presumably, it won’t suffer from the same antenna issues as the iPhone 4 did. The iPhone 4S is also a world phone meaning it can roam on all global networks including US CDMA. Previously, the iPhone 4 came in two separate models (GSM and CDMA).

The biggest upgrade in hardware on the iPhone 4S seems to be the camera. It jumps from 5-megapixels to 8-megapixels and now has a backlight illuminated CMOS sensor that claims better performance in low light situations. The 4S camera can now record 1080p video (up from 720p on the iPhone 4) and also has a new image signal processor for image stabilisation and face recognition. Apple was also keen to point out its speed: the company says the camera app takes 1.1 seconds to be ready for a photo and then just half a second between successive photos.

The iPhone 4S will also get an exclusive software feature called Siri voice control. It’s a voice assistant that lets you talk to perform tasks, such as asking for the weather forecast, getting driving or walking directions through Google Maps, making a calendar appointment or setting your alarm. It will originally be a beta release, but Apple says the software will improve as it learns your voice. In good news for Aussies, Siri will work with Australian English in addition to US and UK English. We can only hope its better than most voice recognition software at understanding our accent.

The iPhone 4S also has slightly improved battery life, promising eight hours of talk on a 3G network, and 14 hours on 2G. Other figures published by Apple include up to six hours of 3G Web browsing, nine hours of Wi-Fi Web browsing, 10 hours of video playback and 40 hours of music playback.

The Apple iPhone 4S launches on Friday 14 October in Australia and will almost surely be sold by all three major Australian telcos: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. The iPhone 4S will also be sold outright through Apple's Retail Stores, including the newly opened Penrith and Hornsby stores in New South Wales and through online store.

The iPhone 4S will come in 16, 32 and 64GB models with Australian pricing starting at $799 for the 16GB model, which seems pretty high. The 32GB model will set you back $899 and the 64GB version will cost $999.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World

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