Apple's iPhone 4S may not be the mythical iPhone 5, but it's still impressive, according to analysts who like the specifications the company offered Tuesday.
the canon of coverage for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4S launch, it's safe to
say that never has there been an Apple product unveiled that conjured so much
On the one
hand, some folks were disappointed by the lack of an iPhone 5, which was the
longest-running rumor going in high-tech after Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle
Fire tablet was introduced last week.
On the other,
analysts roundly praised the iPhone 4S, which is launching Oct. 14 in the U.S.
on AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZW) and Sprint (NYSE:S). Yes,
even the beleaguered Sprint hopes to find salvation in the iPhone, for which it
is reportedly paying millions to offer to consumers.
the new handset is the same as the iPhone 4, albeit with some cosmetic changes
attributed to the new antenna and radios. It's on the inside where the iPhone
4S shines brighter than its predecessor, the popular iPhone 4.
The iPhone 4S
has a faster A5 processor, the new iOS 5 platform, boasting over 200 feature
improvements, including a Find Me Friend location-based social application. On
Oct. 12, the phone will work with iCloud, Apple's new service for syncing
music, movies and more content across Apple iPhones, iPads, iPods and Macs.
iCloud stores content and wirelessly pushes it to all of a user's devices.
There is an 8-megapixel
camera that, judging from its demonstration during the event, looks to rival
the best in the market, paired with 1,080p high-definition video recording.
highlight for many who attended the event was Siri, an artificial
intelligence-based personal assistant application that lets users ask questions
and receive highly contextual answers, such as "What is the weather
like?" and "Should I bring an umbrella?"
also does things like enable users to call taxis, book restaurant tables, make
calls, send text messages and do some other things that a personal assistant
find it hard to find fault with Apple these days, were impressed for the most
the form factor does not have a bigger screen or thinner body, the processor
improvements, HSPA+ [Evolved High-Speed Packet Access] speeds [particularly
beneficial for AT&T and European subscribers] should drive a large number
of upgrades, especially as outside the U.S. LTE [Long-Term Evolution] deployments
are not being rushed," said Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek.
Noting that 64
percent of 216 mobile phone users surveyed said they would purchase an iPhone
without knowing anything about the new phone, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene
Munster said he expects the iPhone 4S will help the company sell 25 million
iPhones in the December quarter.
Mark Moskowitz took a more skeptical view of the unveiling, if only because
there was no iPhone 5 to be seen. "We had expected the company to announce
two new devices, an iPhone 5 and a 4-plus," Moskowitz wrote in a research
note Oct. 5. "We are disappointed that Apple did not introduce a thinner
form factor, but we see the feature set improvements in the iPhone 4S and the
broader pricing strategy as positives."
analyst appears to warm to the iPhone 4S, noting that iOS 5 and iCloud
"elevate the Apple smartphone above the rest of the pack." Apple's
tight integration between its hardware portfolio and iCloud is a key
differentiating factor versus the competition, he added.
"competition" one could assume Moskowitz is referring to current
high-end Android smartphones, such as the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-based
Motorola Droid Bionic, or the new Microsoft Windows phones.
But the best
analogy between the iPhone 4S and Android devices is to the Samsung Galaxy S II
Android 2.3 Gingerbread 4G handsets, which have sold over 10 million units
just as the iPhone 4S is physically much like its iPhone 4 predecessor, the
Galaxy S II resembles its Galaxy S forebears, albeit with a thinner, lighter
shell, a new processor and snazzier software. It will be interesting to watch
how these phones fare pitted against one another for the holiday season.
Apple may have
the advantage here, trucking with the top three carriers in the U.S. Unless
T-Mobile carries its weight versus the competition, and unless there is a
budding interest in the Galaxy S II in the U.S., the iPhone 4S may well whip
its Android rival in sales.
So far, there
is no evidence to suggest the S IIs are flying off the shelves in the U.S. as
they have in Korea, Japan and Europe.
And then there
is this: Apple has just opened a new front in the smartphone wars, lashing out
at the area where Android has excelled overseas: low-cost smartphones.
iPhone 4S is the standard $199.99 price point for an Apple phone with a
contract, but the $99 price point of the feature-rich iPhone 4 will accelerate
sales of that 16-month-old device, and the free iPhone 3GS (on contract) will
help the company expand its footprint even further versus the low-cost iPhone
set in Europe and especially Asia.
believe Apple's strategy to cover the spectrum of smartphone price points
positions the company well in further penetrating emerging markets, including
China and other parts of the world," Moskowitz noted.