The headlines were flying fast and furious online, even before Apple's iPhone press event ended. With only an updated iPhone 4, called the 4S, and no iPhone 5, today's news was labeled a "big disappointment," and it was said that the iPhone 4S "disappoints Apple fans (and Wall Street)."
On Twitter and Facebook, comments included: "The S in iPhone 4S stands for Same," and even, "If I just tell myself it's an iPhone 5, I'll be happy with the iPhone 4S." That last comment caught my attention. It's author has stumbled onto the great untold truth from today's Apple news. If you look past the fact that this is essentially the same glass-and-metal case and 960x640-pixel display, it's an almost entirely new device, at least as different as the iPad 2 was from the original iPad.
The CPU? Different, moving up to a dual-core Apple A5. The camera? Upgraded from 5 megapixels to 8mp, and with video recording bumped from 720p to 1080p.
Perhaps as important, the hybrid GSM/CDMA architecture and improved antenna for what Apple claims will be 4G-like download speeds. (Of course, we'll believe this when we see it--an actual 4G iPhone would erase any doubt that this is an entirely new generation of iPhone). Finally, Apple says the iPhone 4S offers improved battery life with eight hours of talk time.
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For a more detailed look at the spec differences between last year's iPhone and the iPhone 4S, see this helpful chart. We also have a list of the biggest missing features, any of which would also help further make the argument that the iPhone 4S is more than just an iteration of an existing product.
Yet, for all the new hardware on the inside, it's hard to blame anyone who was looking forward to a radical new design and new name for being disappointed. In the handful of conversations I had today with TV and radio stations, the overblown hype was as big a topic as any of the actual hardware and software announcements, and by positioning this new phone as more of an incremental update than anything new, Apple played right into that story.
Is the iPhone 4S different enough from last year's model? Should it have been called the iPhone 5? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. (If you're curious, I'm not an update addict--my personal phone is an original iPhone 3G, not even a 3GS.)