Quick Analysis of iPhone 4S Announcement
Defying some expectations that Apple today would introduce the iPhone 5—an entirely new model supporting 4G—the company instead rolled out the iPhone 4S, an incremental update of the existing iPhone 4. This confirms the IHS outlook issued in July that the new iPhone introduced by Apple in 2011 likely would not include the next-generation 4G technology known as Long Term Evolution (LTE). IHS continues to expect that Apple will introduce an LTE-capable iPhone 5 when an affordable chipset solution allowing a thinner form factor is available. The iPhone 5 most likely will arrive in late 2012, or in mid-2013.
Given the success of the iPhone 4, Apple’s incremental approach to upgrading the line makes sense. Furthermore, with the speeds the iPhone has attained with the existing 3G standard known as High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA), there is no appreciable benefit to adopting LTE, especially given the current spectrum and uplink speed constraints for LTE.
“As Apple always does, the company selected features for the iPhone 4 that are designed to deliver a superior customer experience, rather than to provide technology for technology’s sake,” said Francis Sideco, senior principal analyst, wireless communications, for IHS. “Because of this, Apple declined to offer an LTE-enabled iPhone that would have been more expensive, larger and more power hungry—and instead opted to introduce a device that delivers nearly the same wireless data speed, but with a superior user experience.”
Along with HSPA, the iPhone 4S supports the Evolution-Data Optimized (EvDO) standard, making it a true world phone. Apple undoubtedly is using a baseband chipset solution from U.S. chip supplier Qualcomm that combines support for the HSPA and EvDO air standards.
One of the major upgrades of the iPhone 4S is the use of an Apple A5 dual ARM core processor, compared to the A4 used in the iPhone 4. “The use of the A5 should increase the performance significantly, and will put Apple right at the leading edge of the dual-core trend in smartphones. In addition to dual processors, the A5 integrates dual-core graphics,” Sideco said. “This is critical in achieving faster performance while minimizing power consumption—essential to maintaining long battery life.”
Apple’s Siri personal assistant technology is very attractive for automotive infotainment applications. Siri provides not only voice recognition and text to speech capabilities but also conversational responses to inputs. While such solutions exist today from other companies, such as Google, Apple’s support of this as a standard feature of the iPhone 4S is likely to make such voice recognition a standard feature.
This appears to be just the kind of solution that car makers are seeking for control of their infotainment systems. With new car infotainment systems built to support mobile electronics devices like the iPhone, expect to see Siri-enabled solutions in new cars in the near future.