By Ethan Dougherty
on 10.4.11
Photo by Apple

Oh the torture! Our Pavlovian anticipation for a new iPhone every 12 months has been pushed to the limits this go around, especially after being teased earlier this summer about what to expect from iOS 5 (which, FYI will be available to all current iPhone 4 owners October 12th). Now the news is out and Apple’s latest handset, dubbed the iPhone 4S, may disappoint some since it keeps the same body style as the iPhone 4. To say the device is a minor upgrade, however, would be decidedly selling it short. The inclusion of the iPad’s A5 CPU dual core processor and a dual core GPU makes it up to 7 times faster than the previous iPhone in the graphics department and two times faster with computing tasks. If you were worried about the processing bump killing the battery, don’t be — since Apple is promising 8 hours of talk time, 14 hours of 2g talk time, 6 hours of 3g browsing, and 9 hours of Wi-Fi browsing.

Learn about other new features after the break.

Speaking of browsing, the new 4S apparently fixes most of the antenna woes of the 4, enabling the phone to work on both GSM and CDMA networks while getting the so-called 4G download speeds the competitors are touting. A new 8 megapixel camera with a back lit sensor and a hybrid IR filter is likely to be the most exciting edition on the hardware front for the average consumer. It’s capable of snapping a 3264 x 2448 image in 1.1 seconds and can record 1080p video, all while capturing 60% more pixels and 73% more light than the iPhone 4. Face detection, better white balance, and a macro mode are included too — just in case the point and shoot market wasn’t terrified enough.

Then there’s the new introduction of natural language voice control. With the iPhone 4S, Apple has finally revealed what’s become of the virtual personal assistant company it acquired a few years back. This new Siri “intelligent assistant” feature enables an entirely new way of interacting with your phone through talking. Just hold down the home button and speak commands like “wake me up at 6am” to have the phone automatically talk back saying there’s an alarm set for 6. Need directions? Just say “give me direction to…” and the phone will pull up the map and route you. As Apple would say, it’s magical — and by the looks of the demo they presented it works better than other voice systems we’ve seen. We’re still on the fence though about just how useful speaking out loud to your phone will be in various situations, but we’ll reserve final judgement until we go hands on.

If you’re ready to switch or upgrade, pre-orders will go on sale October 7th and the phone will officially launch October 14th on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

Pre Order Starting October 7th: 16GB | $199 32GB | $299 64GB | $399 (all with 2 Year Contract)

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