The new iPhones are finally coming!
It took awhile — 16 months since last year’s iPhone 4 rollout, but who’s counting? — for Apple (AAPL) to pull the wraps off its latest smartphone update.
Was it worth the wait? Consumers will be the ultimate judges, but there are several reasons to believe that your next wireless phone will be the one that Apple debuted in Cupertino today.
1. The new iPhone is better than your old iPhone
Spec sheets get better with every incarnation, and Apple’s new baby is no exception.
We’re talking about a better camera, speedier processor, and slicker features.
Improved image sensors translate into the ability to take better pictures. The iPhone 3GS came out in 2009 with a 3-megapixel camera. Last year’s iPhone 4 added a flash and beefed up the resolution with a 5-megapixel camera. The new iPhones are now up to 8-megapixels with real-time image stabilization, and the rear-facing camera can shoot slick HD video in 1080p. If the numbers confuse you, just know that you’re about to become a better photographer or videographer without even trying.
However, the most distinctive feature of the iPhone 4S is its voice-activated brain. You can have fruitful conversations with your device. You can pull up a stock quote, set up a wake-up call, or ask if you will need an umbrella today.
Yes, drivers, now you can keep your eyes on the road and just ask your phone if there are any good Italian restaurants around.
2. There are more domestic carriers onboard
iPhone owners have been limited to ATT (T) and Verizon (VZ) as their carriers, but now Sprint (S) has become the third stateside wireless carrier to offer Apple’s popular phone.
Sprint may not be as big as ATT and Verizon, but have you seen its latest attack ads? Sprint knocks ATT and Verizon in its televised spots for their tiered pricing. Sprint is now the only iPhone carrier offering unlimited data plans at a single flat rate to new customers.
If you were lucky enough to sign up with ATT or Verizon before they capped usage, you’re OK: Your unlimited data plans will carry over to the new iPhone. If you weren’t — and you plan to do a lot of surfing outside of Wi-Fi — it may be time to give the Now Network a shot.
3. The new iPhone isn’t more expensive than your old iPhone
One of the things that Apple has gotten right is offering more bang in every annual iPhone update without juicing up prices. In fact, the original iPhone sold for as much as $599 in 2007.
A few price cuts later, Apple has settled on $199 for entry-level iPhones and $299 for models with double the storage capacity.
The iPhone 4S mostly sticks to the plan. It will be $199 for the 16 gigabyte model and $299 for the 32 gigabyte version through all three carriers with a two-year contract. However, folks with a need for a ton of storage capacity for all of those HD videos you’ll be recording can pay $399 for a 64 gig unit.
If you’re still not sold on the iPhone 4s, you can save money on the retro models. The iPhone 4 will now drop to $99 and the iPhone 3GS will be free (both with a two-year wireless carrier commitment).
4. The letdowns aren’t deal breakers
It’s nearly impossible to live up to the hype, and delaying its annual refresh by several months only heightened expectations.
Apple may have hit it out of the park today, but it didn’t exactly clear the bases.
There was no 4G LTE connectivity offered, though Apple claims that its phone is even faster than many LTE devices. A near-field communications — or NFC — chip was also a rumored feature that didn’t make the cut. NFC is being used in some Android phones to help process financial transactions, potentially replacing credit cards in the future. NFC may as well stand for “not for Cupertino” today.
There was also no dual smartphone announcement. Many had speculated that Apple would introduce both an iPhone 4S and an iPhone 5. All we got was the iPhone 4S, which — to be fair — has a lot of the neat features that were rumored to be part of the iPhone 5.
What are you waiting for?
If you’re still in for a new iPhone 4S, look alive: Preorders begin Friday, and the phone will hit stores a week from Friday. A few European countries will also be getting the iPhone 4S on Oct. 14, with several other countries coming online two weeks later.
Will you be getting the iPhone 4S? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not owns shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of ATT and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple.