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Apple Announces The iPhone 4s – Was It Worth The Wait?

Talk about a balancing act. At the same time Adobe is running through their second general session, announcing their own new breakthoughs and offerings, Apple is starting off their own conference to talk about something you’re probably very interested in… the next iPhone. 

As both of these are going on, I’m sitting here trying to cover both of them – taking pictures of the Adobe session, and furiously hitting F5 on Engadget’s Apple Live Blog to get the deets on the new iPhone.

Well, here it is. Apple just announced the iPhone 4s. So, what do we have to look forward to?

From what I can tell so far, the big improvements are all in the internals – it’s faster, more powerful, and has better battery life. Looking at the keynote’s pictures on Engadget, I can say that the phone looks pretty much exactly like the first iPhone 4 on the outside. However, the inside is where things get interesting… kind of.

It’s obvious that the iPhone 4s is a marked improvement over the iPhone 4. Specifically, it improves upon the original in some key areas:

  • The processor is now a dual-core A5 chip, which is up to 2x as fast as the old A4
  • Graphics performance is now up to 7x better
  • The camera has been upgraded to 8MP, and video can be shot at 1080p with image stabilization

However, many people (myself included) don’t believe the 4s is enough of an improvement to justify a full press conference – indeed, it’s not even enough of an improvement to justify the 16 months we’ve gone without an update. Looking at other smartphone offerings currently on the market, the iPhone 4s doesn’t really innovate in any area – it’s simply playing catchup. Check out Engadget’s comparison article to see what I mean (the comments are worth looking at too).

Still, what’s on display is admittedly pretty good, and millions of people are sure to buy it. In particular, the graphics performance is stunning; this is made obvious when watching the trailer for the new Infinity Blade game:

httpvh://youtu.be/aASB0MhnCls

So, at this point, I’m happy to see the new features but not particularly impressed with what Apple has to show after 16 months. They could have done a lot more to push the envelope hardware and feature-wise; instead, they chose to focus more on iOS5 features and took the hardware just up the point where it’s about on par with current Android offerings. I probably won’t be upgrading early.