At a "Let's Talk iPhone" keynote event today, Apple senior VP Phil Schiller announced the iPhone 4S, an upgrade for the popular game-playing smartphone that offers a new, more powerful dual-core processor.
The iPhone 4S will be available with a two-year contract starting at $199 for a 16GB version, up to $399 for a 64GB version -- a new maximum storage size for the iPhone line. Pre-orders for the device will start October 7 and it will be available in stores October 14.
Apple's A5 chip -- the same one used in the iPad -- can generate up to seven times the graphical performance of previous iPhones, Schiller said, using a demonstration of the newly revealed Infinity Blade 2
from Epic Games to showcase the increased power for gaming applications.
The new phone features an improved battery with over eight hours of talk time on 3G, or nine hours of life when using wi-fi, according to the presentation. The new phone will also be able to download up to 14.4 megabits per second over a 4G cellular data network, and will include new "worldphone" antenna technology to support different cellular standards in foreign countries.
Apple is also hoping the iPhone 4S will compete with existing point-and-shoot cameras, using a new eight megapixel photo sensor that can take 1080p video and takes in more light than previous iPhone cameras. The new photo software also promises to let users take photos faster.
Prior to today's event, industry watchers had expected the reveal of a brand new iPhone 5 -- but investors were disappointed with a mere upgrade to the current iPhone, sending Apple stock down nearly 4 percent to $361 per share as of this writing.
The company also showcased a new voice-control feature called Siri, which can interpret the meaning of English sentences to perform basic functions. An on-stage demonstration showed the phone responding to questions such as "What’s the weather like today?" and "Do I need a raincoat?"
Apple also announced a price reduction for its iPhone 4, which will now start at $99 for an 8GB model, and the iPhone 3GS, which will come free with a contract and 8GB of storage.
Finally, the company confirmed long-running rumors by announcing that Sprint will join Verizon and AT&T in carrying the iPhone line in America.
[Thanks to live blogs from gdgt and Mashable for the information in this report.]