Apple on Tuesday went live with an updated version of its iPhone 4 smartphone, the iPhone 4S, that includes improved camera functionality, voice recognition and other new features. It also confirmed the addition of Sprint to its roster of U.S. iPhone carriers.
But following a heavily-buzzed-about press conference in Cupertino, Calif. called "Let's Talk iPhone," Apple's product unveiling was perhaps most notable for what didn't happen: no new iPhone design was unveiled, and former Apple CEO and current chairman Steve Jobs did not show, despite persistent rumors that both would occur.
Apple shares fell 4 percent following the press conference's wrap-up.
With the hype subsided, Apple had plenty to talk about, and CEO Tim Cook, who replaced the ailing Jobs in August, led the presentations, according to numerous live reports from the event.
Apple's new iPhone 4S has a bolstered camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and 60 percent more pixels than the iPhone 4's existing camera, which is 5 megapixel, and is also 33 percent faster, according to Apple. It sports an A5 chip, the same that's in Apple's iPad 2 tablet.
Also new is a "personal assistant" application in the iPhone 4S that Apple calls Siri. The application uses speech-recognition technology to respond to spoken questions and commands, and the technology comes from a company of the same name, Siri, that Apple acquired in April 2010.
The iPhone 4S will come in black or white, and cost $199 in its 16 GB form, $299 in its 32-GB form and $399 for a 64-GB version, all of which include a two-year carrier lock-in. Sprint will carry the iPhone along with existing U.S. iPhone carriers AT&T and Verizon. Apple also confirmed the iPhone 4S is a "world" phone, meaning it's compatible on both GSM and CDMA networks at home and abroad.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S begin on Friday, Oct. 7, with delivery starting on Fri, Oct. 14.
Apple also confirmed that the current iPhone 4 will cost $99 for an 8-GB model, and the iPhone 3GS, now a nearly three-year-old phone, will cost nothing in its 8-GB model, provided the customers signs a two-year service contract.
Apple remains committed to its iPod, as well. A new iPod batch that debuted Tuesday includes a Nano model with multi-touch display, and Apple also made price cuts to existing Nano and iPod Touch lines.
According to live reports from Apple's event, Cook said Apple's iPhone 4 sold more quickly than previous iPhone models, but iPhone still accounts for merely 5 percent of the worldwide handset market. Apple has sold more than 300 million iPods worldwide, Cook added, and sold 39 million iPhones in the first six months of 2011.
The next version of Apple's mobile OS, iOS 5, will be available for Apple devices starting Oct. 12, which is also the date Apple plans to launch iCloud, Apple's cloud computing service.