Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event answered some of our burning questions — such as what the next iPhone will look like (answer: same as the old one) and when we can get our hands on one (Oct. 14). But to quote the final season of Lost: Every answer only leads to more questions. Here, in no particular order, are 10 queries Apple (and the phone companies) have yet to answer. Let us know in the comments what other questions you have.
Will the iPhone come with unlimited data plans on Sprint? One thing Sprint has been pushing in its ads for months is its unlimited data pricing — a distinct advantage over Verizon and AT&T, both of which now charge by the megabyte. But iPhone users are notorious data hogs; does Sprint really have the bandwidth to cope? We should know more on Friday, when the company has scheduled an event in New York to discuss iPhone 4S pricing.
Will you be able to transfer your iPhone 4S from Sprint to Verizon, and vice-versa? In theory, the iPhone 4S is a “world phone” that can work anywhere, on any GSM network (like AT&T) or CDMA network (like Verizon and Sprint). We know Apple sells unlocked iPhones already. But just to keep things complicated, Sprint and Verizon use different radio frequencies within their CDMA systems. So will the world phone be able to cope with both brands, so you can switch seamlessly from one to the other? If so, the competition might help keep prices down.
Has the iPhone 4S fixed the “death grip” antenna issues of its predecessor? You may remember “Antennagate” — the revelation that if you grip your iPhone 4 in a certain way, it cuts the signal to the internal antenna. Apple put a lid on the issue by offering free iPhone cases to users that helped prevent the death grip, but the underlying issue never went away. Now we know the iPhone 4S has two antennae inside it, and can “intelligently switch” between them, according to Apple. Does that solve the problem? The company won’t say, so we’ll have to wait to get our hands on a 4S to find out.
Has the iPhone 4S changed anything about its glass front and back? Anecdotally, we hear this a lot from iPhone 4 owners: The glass on the front and back of the phone is really easy to smash, crack or nick (and destroy its resale value in the process). Ostensibly, the 4S has changed nothing about its predecessor’s casing — but we know that Apple is full of obsessive designers and engineers who love to tweak anything that causes a problem. Even moving the glass in by a millimeter, so it isn’t quite flush with the edge of the phone, might help resolve this issue.
The iPhone 4S looks and feels exactly like the iPhone 4.
iPhone 4S Video
The iPhone 4S comes with an 8MP camera, an improved lens, 1080p HD video and a slew of upgrades that allow for faster video taking and crisper images.
iPhone 4S Camera
New features such as cropping are now available through the iPhone 4S Camera.
The most important new feature of the iPhone 4S is Siri, a voice-controlled "Intelligent Assistant" that can complete tasks based on natural language. Ask it what the weather is like today and it will respond with details.
Apple launched iCloud at its event, allowing users to sync their photos, music, emails and more across iOS devices.
iCloud Across Devices
iCloud also works between iOS devices and Mac OS X Lion.
Photos taken on the phone are automatically uploaded to iCloud. Then they are available on your other Apple devices.
iOS 5 is the new version of Apple's mobile OS. It includes revamped notifications, a new Messages feature and deep integration with Twitter.
iOS 5 includes a new Messages feature for sending messages to other iOS devices for free, no texting required.
iOS 5 includes revamped notifications. No more annoying push notifications!
Apple launched Newsstand, an app for downloading magazines, newspapers and other subscription-based content automatically.
Is Siri really limited to the iPhone 4S? For all Apple’s excitement about Siri, which comes integrated into the new iPhone 4S and will supposedly only work with that model, it hasn’t escaped our attention that Siri used to work with other iPhone models. Apple bought the company last year, but Siri had a standalone app that you could download for free in the App Store — until yesterday, that is. So is Apple artificially hobbling it? Is there some inherent hardware limitation in Siri’s iOS 5 integration? Does it take a device as powerful as the 4S to handle it? And if that’s the case, surely the iPad 2 would qualify as well?
How well will Siri work in practice? Sure, it performed well in a scripted demo on stage Tuesday. Yes, it may be one of the most advanced voice recognition systems out there. And we’re sure Apple wouldn’t have integrated it into the new phone without doing a heck of a lot of testing. But the trouble with voice recognition technology has always been the thousands of quirks inherent in human speech. Just how many commands does Siri understand? Will it work in crowded rooms? And can it handle accents? (I certainly hope so.) Even if it works well 95% of the time, Siri’s mistakes would be frequent enough to make it the butt of jokes — just like handwriting recognition on the Apple Newton.
Was there a missing “one more thing”? A number of journalists at the iPhone announcement felt that Cook appeared to be leading up to something at the end. Indeed, it’s very unusual for Apple presentations to end on such a flat note. Was something lined up and then removed at the last minute?
Will we ever get Facebook integration in iOS 5? One candidate for that missing moment: a joint announcement with Facebook, which our sources suggested would happen. (But we also knew Apple and Facebook have a contentious on-again, off-again relationship). We’re still waiting for the official Facebook iPad app, and it seems odd to have left the world’s largest social network out of iOS 5 when Twitter is so prominently integrated. Will that change?
Will we ever get 4G iPhones — or are the batteries too bulky? Thanks to the Android devices that have dipped their toes into the 4G market, we know that next-generation phone service has great potential — and is also a massive battery hog. That doesn’t sit well with Apple, which hates to hand its users any reduction in talk time. So how soon can its design team make it work?
Seriously, what about the iPhone 5? We’ve saved the biggest head-scratcher for last. Does the much-fabled iPhone 5 exist? Is Apple holding it back for the right moment? When will that moment be — next year, presumably? This is one question we don’t expect the world’s most secretive company to answer any time soon.