Apple puts design on hold with iPhone 4S

It’s what’s inside that counts. That’s the statement Apple Inc. is making with the new iPhone 4S.

It may look exactly the same as the iPhone 4, but the new iPhone 4S is rocking a re-engineered interior that Apple hopes will keep the iOS train humming along well through the next product cycle.

Apple is taking a gamble, albeit a safe and proven one, by not changing the design of the new iPhone. After the longest break yet between new iPhone releases (almost 16 months), public and industry expectations were set for an iPhone 5 — in other words, an iPhone that looks different and works different.

The iPhone 4S is coming to AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and for the first time, Sprint Nextel Corp. It goes up for pre-sale Friday and hits store shelves on Oct. 14. iOS 5 will be available as a free upgrade on Oct. 12.

Some current iPhone 4 owners will be disappointed with the seemingly incremental upgrade, but the strategy from Apple is not a new one. The company extended the life of its previous iPhone design with the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

And even with “antenna-gate,” it would be a stretch to construe the iPhone 4 as anything but an all-out success for Apple. It’s been the driving force behind Apple’s success for almost 16 months and it accounts for more than half of all iPhones sold to date, CEO Tim Cook said at today’s press event.

Packed inside the iPhone 4S is a dual-core A5 chip that delivers double the processing power and up to seven times faster graphics, according to Apple. It also sports a new 8-megapixel camera with larger f/2.4 aperture that can shoot 1080p HD video. The iPhone 4S will carry dual-network capability for GSM and CDMA networks, making it a “world phone” for customers on any network. Data speeds will peak at 14.4 Mbps on HSDPA networks.

Again, all the new stuff is on the inside. No design changes also means Apple once again declined to challenge its competitors on screen size. Almost every other smartphone manufacturer has released devices with larger screen sizes and form factors for years now. With the iPhone, resolutions have jumped, but screen real estate has stayed the same.

Similarities aside, the three latest generations of the iPhone will now fill out Apple’s lineup with products priced for entry-, mid- and high-level customers. The iPhone 4S will range from $199 to $399, depending on 16, 32 and 64 GB capacities. Apple will continue to offer the iPhone 4 in an 8 GB model for $99 and the iPhone 3GS with 8 GB for free on a new contract.

Last but not least… For those that like numbers, Apple never disappoints. Here’s some key Apple-fed takeaways from today’s event:

  • 250 million cumulative iOS devices sold
  • 500,000 apps in the App Store
  • 18 billion apps downloaded – now tracking more than 1 billion app downloads per month
  • $3 billion paid to iOS app developers
  • iPhone has a 5 percent share of the global handset market
  • iPhone is being tested or deployed at 93% of the Fortune 500
  • iPad is being tested or deployed at 92% of the Fortune 500

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