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Apple announces new iPhone 4S
« on: October 04, 2011, 10:09:26 PM »
You can't blame Apple (AAPL) fans for being a little bit disappointed Tuesday.

Everyone expected the company to announce a new iPhone 5. It was practically a given. But, as the stock's 4% afternoon price drop might indicate, that was not the case.

Instead, Apple announced a souped-up iPhone 4S.

It looks just like the old iPhone 4 on the outside, but an internal overhaul has made the phone faster and smarter. Apple added some shiny new games and apps, and priced the phone at $199, $299 and $399, depending on storage capacity.

Here's the basic rundown of the new iPhone 4S:

    It has an 8-megapixel camera -- an improvement users were clamoring for.

    It can record video in 1080p HD resolution.

    It offers an "assistant" named Siri that can answer questions asked into the phone. For example, Siri gives you the forecast if you ask, "What's the weather like today?" Siri will also set the phone's alarm if you say, "Wake me up tomorrow at 6 a.m."

    It has a dual-mode GSM and CDMA radio, so world travelers can use it internationally.

    A new battery offers eight hours of 3G talk time and six hours of 3G web browsing.

    It goes on sale Oct. 14, with pre-orders starting Friday.

The old iPhone 4 will now cost $99, and -- in a stroke of genius -- Apple is making the iPhone 3GS free with a two-year contract.

The other big news of the day is that Sprint (S) is officially on board as an iPhone carrier, joining Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T).

For Sprint, the iPhone has not come easy. Apple wouldn't let Sprint have the iPhone unless Sprint committed to buy at least 30.5 million units, The Wall Street Journal reported. A purchase of that size pretty much ensures Sprint will lose money on the deal until 2014.

Can Sprint sell all those iPhones? To put that number into perspective, consider that Verizon and AT&T together only sold 12 million iPhones in the first half of this year, the Journal reported.

But Sprint has a huge selling edge over competitors: Unlimited data. Sprint is the only major carrier left to offer unlimited-data plans, and iPhone users are notorious data hogs.

Apple also announced its new iCloud service and an update to its iOS mobile operating system, available Oct. 12. One of the coolest new apps coming out is called Cards, and allows users to design their own photo greeting cards. Apple will print and mail them for $3 within the United States and $5 internationally.

The Cards service dealt a blow to shares of American Greetings (AM) and Shutterfly (SFLY) Tuesday, sending the share prices of both down more than 7% and 10%, respectively.