New iPhone launch – how was it for you?

So, the wait is over and Apple have finally announced their latest object of desire. Months of increasingly fevered speculation had us gadget freaks desperate for news of the iPhone 5/4S/4G or whatever it would be called. Rumours about a new shape, aluminium body, bigger screen… all were quashed tonight as Phil Schiller revealed the iPhone 4S.

I watched with interest as the news came through. Here’s my thoughts:

The full specs are here in Armand’s post, but as a quick overview, the changes are mainly under the bonnet, things like better processor and antenna. What is most of note – particularly for 3GS owners like myself – is the new 8MP camera, complete with image stabilisation and 1080p video. Since its launch, the iPhone has lagged behind rival phones on the camera front. Now Apple are really competing. As Phil said, “We didn’t just want to make this better than other phones, we wanted to make it better than point and shoot cameras.” Time will tell how it compares to my Lumix, but on first appearances the camera looks impressive, and certainly up to the high standards expected from today’s smartphones.

The other big announcement is Siri – the assistant feature which had been reported by some sources. Using voice recognition, you can ask a question such as “what is the weather like today?” and it will bring up the Weather app. Or you can order it to create an appointment and it will do so in the Calendar app. Siri works with the built-in apps in iOS. The examples on display certainly sound impressive, and there’s no doubt the tech behind it is highly advanced. But how useful it will prove remains to be seen – I can see it being a feature which is cool and fun at first, but with the novelty wearing off after a while. There’s also the question of whether you want to be seen in public barking orders at your phone…

As I mentioned, the rest of the new features are under the covers, with the promise that processing and graphics will be 7 times faster than the iPhone 4. I’ve only seen still photos, but the images do look amazing for a handheld gaming system. I can see that going from gaming on a 3GS to a 4S will be a pretty big leap, and no doubt it will entice me to spend more time gaming on the move. iPhone games are getting more impressive all the time, and if the 4S performance lives up to the hype, exciting times lie ahead.

Overall, my feeling is one of excitement tempered with a little bit of disappointment. Technically the iPhone 4S looks great, but there were no mind-blowing surprises. It definitely looks like more of an incremental release – as evidenced by the phone being called 4S rather than 5. For me, upgrading from the 3GS will be a big step up; I expect iPhone 4 owners to be less enthusiastic about it.

Will you be rushing out to buy the iPhone 4S? Or will you wait for the eventual release of the iPhone 5? Let us know in the comments.