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the same size display as its predecessor. So what's next for
Google's platform? What about RIM’s efforts to jumpstart
BlackBerry with its new phones? And can Windows Phone
7 gain any traction with Microsoft’s new software?
Our annual smartphone superguide has all the answers,
plus our top iPhone 4S alternatives for every carrier.
The iPhone 4S Shockwave
Although many had been expecting Apple to release an
all-new design, instead the company focused on software
and new features with the iPhone 4S. And demand was so
great that within a week the handset had sold out at AT&T,
Sprint, and Verizon. Why?
For starters, the iPhone 4S has the same A5 processor
inside the iPad 2. This chip delivers up to double the over-
all performance of the iPhone 4 and up to seven times the
graphics performa nce.
You also get a sharper 8-MP camera with all-new optics
and a enhanced backside illuminator sensor. The result?
Sharper and brighter photos than most competing smart-
phones. A nd, thanks to the dual-core CPU, the iPhone 4S
starts fast and snaps pics even faster.
To help you get the most out of this sharper camera, the
iPhone 4S lets you auto-enhance images with its new editing
feature, as well as eliminate red eye and crop photos. You
can also share photos via Twitter with ease.
Voice control is an area where Apple was definitely play-
ing catch-up to Google’s Voice Actions—at least until Siri
arrived. This voice-controlled assistant on the iPhone 4S
really puts the smart back in smartphones. You can speak
to Siri using natural language and she'll understand what
you're trying to ask and execute commands with ease. Plus,
Siri learns your voice, so it gets better over time.
For example, you can ask Siri whether you need an
umbrella today and she'll show you the weather forecast
for your city. You can then say "How about Boston?" and
she'll switch gears and display the forecast for that city.
You don't have to say "weather" again because it's part of a
Siri does a lot more than that. She can schedule appoint-
ment for you, set your alarm, look up restaurants via Yelp,
and answer seriously challenging questions by leaning on
Wolfram A lpha.
iOS 5 and iCloud
While the iPhone 4 will get iOS 5, too, it’s worth mentioning
in regards to the iPhone 4S because it really does change the
user experience in meaningful ways. In addition to iCloud
support for syncing your content wirelessly with multiple
iOS devices at once, the update features a new Notification
Center for managing alerts, iMessage for staying in touch
with friends, location-based Reminders, and deep Twitter
integration. You’ll also be able to access the iPhone 4S’
camera from the lock screen.
iCloud in particular is impressive because you don't
have to think about backing up your content. With Photo
Stream, for example, your last 1,000 photos get backed up
to Apple's servers without you having to lift a finger.
The iPhone 4S doesn't have everything. For one, its 3.5 -
inch screen is relatively small compared to the 4.3 -inch
and 4.5 -inch displays found on some of the latest Android
phones. Some people prefer the extra real estate, whether
it's for viewing web pages, watching movies, or typing on
a bigger keyboard.
Another strike against the iPhone 4S is the lack of 4G
connectivity. Although the AT&T version is technically
capable of 14.4 Mbps speeds, we didn't see anything close
to that in our tests, and the Sprint and Verizon versions of
the device are even slower. Apple seems to be waiting for
a lower-power 4G LTE chip that won's zap battery life.
Also likely on the cutting room floor is support for Near
Field Communication technology (NFC). The tech can be
used to read tags embedded in posters or other objects and
for exchanging info between phones, but the most ground-
breaking application is mobile payments. The Nexus S 4G
for Sprint has this capability via Google Wallet..
The New York Times reported in March that an upcom-
ing iPhone would have a NFC chip made by Qualcomm.
However, The Times was careful to say a “coming iteration
of the iPhone” and “not necessarily the next one.” So for now
Google will continue to have a lead in supporting mobile
What’s Next for Android?
Android has been on a serious roll, with the OS enjoying a
dominating 40-percent share of the U.S. market and more
than 200,000 apps in its stable. But Google’s software has
a steeper learning curve, and the interface can vary sig-
nificantly from device to device.
This fall Google will release its Ice Cream Sandwich
Android OS, which will feature a streamlined interface and
revamped notification bar. Other upgrades include a pan-
orama mode for the camera and an enhanced Gmail app.
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