I'll buy the iPhone 4S, and so should you
Woe is you.
You've waited 16 months for this announcement, and all you get is a stinking upgrade to the iPhone 4? You know, that doubling of processor speed and drastic increase in graphics handling isn't enough. The fact that CDMA customers will have worldphone capability thanks to dual-mode functionality? Pshaw.
Honestly folks, lets get real here. Apple certainly set the precedent with the iPhone 3GS that it plans to ride out designs for more than a year, giving them a speed bump mid-run. This is smart: it gives Apple more time to focus on creating truly innovative designs as well as separate features enough that each device can stand on its own.
I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not a big fan of the iPhone 4's design: I just think it does not reflect the true ingenuity of Apple's design team. But what they've put into the iPhone 4S in all honesty has made this a much bigger leap forward than we saw from the iPhone 3G to the 3GS, and has made it attractive enough to even myself.
Just look at the specifications: 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording capability. A combined GSM and CDMA phone. Up to eight hours talk time. Dual-antenna capabilities that push the limits of 3G to 14.4Mbps. Yes it's not real "4G," but it's going to be the fastest 3G phone out there.
Give Apple credit. They all knew LTE wouldn't be ready in time for the company to release a phone based on it, and battery life on LTE phones stink. Apple is going to squeeze as much as they can out of the 3G network before making the switch without much compromise.
Siri is probably the biggest reason why you should upgrade, though -- it is for me. Watching the demonstration of this, I'm very excited about Siri. Android users are quick to argue that the platform has voice commands, too, but that's not what this is (iOS 4 did too, so what's it to you?).
Instead you are able to communicate with the device in a more natural manner. Ask it questions, tell it what you need. That's a real advancement in how we interact with our smart devices and sets the bar higher for its competitors. Is it gimmicky? Yeah probably, but hey if you can do mundane tasks without ever needing to touch a button I'm all for it.
Star Trek anyone?
Could Apple have reached for the stars here and given us our mythical teardrop wide-screened iPhone 5? Of course it could but it wouldn't have made sense. Why release a completely new design without a major advancement like LTE included? It would have cheapened the allure of any future device once it's announced, and probably also hurt potential sales.
LTE (or heck, WiMAX) doesn't matter my friends, as it's a gimmick at this point and inaccessible to the large majority of us. Apple is showing restraint by not releasing a half-baked product just to play tit for tat with Android.
Bottom line, the 4S returns Apple to a position among the best smartphones available whether it has 4G or not. While it's not what the technorati wanted, that really doesn't matter. Apple needs to focus on the average consumer first, rather than the gotta-have-it crowd: they're not dealing with multiple manufacturers here, just themselves.
Look at the announcement of a free iPhone 3GS and a $99 iPhone 4 (hey, wasn't Best Buy offering the 3GS free in August?). These are announcements aimed not at us, but your everyday consumer. Android can no longer claim the mantle of the cheap smartphone anymore. That's a wise business move.
In many cases, the iPhone 4 will surpass almost every competing Android device at the same price point. And the 3GS, while certainly aging, will be satisfactory for the basic smartphone user and still runs iOS 5.
There's really nothing to be disappointed about here. The iPhone 4S is a worthy phone, and if you have Apple as your horse in this smartphone race you should be applauding this strategy.
I am, and I will certainly be preordering my iPhone 4S this week. If you're eligible too, there's no good reason why you shouldn't either.
Editor's Note: Ed is upgrading from iPhone 3GS.