iPhone 4S availabilty

It appears that although the iPhone 4S has few tangible changes compared with its predecessor, it has been a commercial success. We’ve seen the usual queues at Apple stores across the world, and after selling out immediately online, dispatch dates for orders of the phone have now been pushed back to 1-2 weeks at the least.

Apple has taken an unprecedented step of launching a new system which allows customers to reserve a new iPhone from 9pm and collect it in store the next day.

Sometimes the store list and the ‘Next’ button appears, but very often it doesn’t. The reservation system seems quite buggy at the moment, and not conforming to Apple’s usual polished standards. Pressing ‘refresh’ in the browser doesn’t seem to make any difference. You may need to go backwards and forwards between this page and the previous one a few times. Whatever would Steve think?

Eventually, you’ll be presented with a list of Apple stores, which are all located in areas of dense population. Apple official resellers aren’t included in the list.

When you click ‘Next’, you’ll most likely be presented with the following screen, with ‘Unavailable’ starkly written in red six times:

I’ve only once been able to find some availability, and that offered me a time slot which I couldn’t reach due to other commitments. I was expecting that the service would be a Currys or Argos style ‘pick up anytime’ system, and I’m disappointed to see fixed times. However, I guess this way allows Apple to sell a phone to someone else, perhaps once morning timeslots have passed. This makes commercial sense, considering that it is a highly sought after gadget yet one with a short shelf life, considering that a new model will perhaps be out in twelve months or less.

Hopefully the availability problems will be resolved shortly, though Apple only has a short amount of time until potential customers decide that they will be waiting for bigger upgrades on the iPhone 5 instead.

Steve Jobs dies

Just a day after the announcement of the iPhone 4S, Steve Jobs has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 56.

Apple’s homepage has been transformed into a tribute for Jobs, which links to a short dedication stating that “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being”.

Steve Jobs was the personification of Apple. Some are already speculating the ‘iPhone 4S’ stands for ‘For Steve’. While I’m sceptical of that, it’s sad to think the 4S will be the last product he ever saw in production.

iPhone 4S announced

At today’s “Let’s talk iPhone” event, Apple has announced the iPhone 4S – an upgrade to the iPhone 4’s hardware which retains most of the original design. The phone will be released on the 14th October in the US and UK, and continuing the tradition of software updates, iOS 5 will be downloadable a couple of days earlier on the 12th.

The key features of the new phone are:

  • Dual core A5 chip
  • New 8 megapixel camera which supports 1080p video recording
  • Siri, a digital personal assistant

Considering the wealth of rumours surrounding an all-new iPhone, the new device is somewhat of a disappointment. It’s still my belief that Apple is very close to releasing an all-new generation phone, but for some reason decided that they would focus on improving the specifications of the iPhone 4 before the year was out.

Focusing on the upgrade itself, the new chip was fairly expected, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the phone to see if it feels any faster. The 8 megapixel camera is very welcome, and I’m pleased that Apple is finally understanding that 1080p is ‘proper’ HD. I was worried they were stuck on 720p, which is barely an improvement on SD.

Siri sounds an interesting concept, although there are caveats: you’ll need a data connection for it to work, which could prove expensive now unlimited plans are getting rare. Also, you’ll need to speak for it to work – which could look awkward if you’re effectively talking to yourself on the train, for example. Siri only achieves tasks which can be done manually anyway, so it’s not a ‘killer’ feature. I can’t recall ever using the Voice Control on my 3GS to do anything other than show people ‘look at my cool phone’.

And that takes us neatly onto the final point. Whether the new device is enough to tempt iPhone 3GS and 4 owners to upgrade remains to be seen. I expect a high demand, although I don’t expect anywhere near the level of interest which surrounded the iPhone 4.