iPhone 4S: Upgraded iPhone offers 'intelligent' assistant

The enhanced model also upgrades the camera and processor, ups the memory and storage capacity, and will be available on Sprint

Apple today unveiled the new iPhone, the iPhone 4S. More of an upgrade to the iPhone 4 than a new model (thus the lack of the "iPhone 5" moniker), the iPhone 4S uses the same dual-core 1GHz Apple A5 processor as in the iPad 2, up from the iPhone 4's 800MHz A4. Apple also claims it's increased the battery life and doubled the maximum speed of wireless communications on the iPhone 4S.

That faster CPU powers the big innovation in the iPhone 4S: the voice-based "intelligent assistant" technology that Apple acquired in its Siri purchase in 2010. Using both voice recognition and artificial intelligence technologies, the assistant can respond to voice inquiries such as "what's the weather today" or "find me a well-rated Greek restaurant in Hoboken" and pull together the needed information to deliver the result for you -- at least for data sources it knows how to work with. The assistant technology works only on the iPhone 4S; previous iPhone models don't have the horsepower to run it.

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The iPhone 4S also comes with both GSM and CDMA radio capability, so it can function as a "world phone." To compete with stand-alone digital cameras, Apple has upped the rear camera from 5 megapixels to 8 megapixels, increased the light sensitivity of the CCD, and added an IR filter, all to achieve f2.4 lens quality. For video, the iPhone 4S can capture 1080p video, and it comes with an image stabilizer.

The iPhone 4S also gets a new flash memory capacity: 64GB. The 16GB model will cost $199, the 32GB model $299, and the 64GB model $399, all with two-year contracts from AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint in the United States, in both black and white models. They will be available on Oct. 14, with preorders accepted beginning Oct. 7. The iPhone 4 will remain on the market for $99 from AT&T and Verizon -- with Sprint to add it soon -- and the 3G S for free from AT&T, both with two-year contracts. Apple is not providing iPhone models to T-Mobile USA or Metro PCS, the other two national carriers.

iOS vice president Scott Forstall also recapped the features in iOS 5 and iCloud, which Apple will release on Oct. 12.

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