iPhone 4S: Apple rethinks the inside

Though not much changed on the outside, that can't be said for the inside. The iPhone's silicon got a complete overhaul.

The iPhone today got an internal overhaul--its remarkably unchanged exterior notwithstanding.

The first iPhone with a dual-core chip--the same A5 chip that is in the iPad 2.
The first iPhone with a dual-core chip--the same A5 chip that is in the iPad 2. Apple

Apple is "completely rethinking the inside" of the iPhone, according to Greg Joawiak, vice president of iPhone product marketing, who spoke in a video now up on Apple's Web site.

The biggest change is the dual-core A5 processor packing improved graphics silicon. "With two processors handling the workload, it really makes a big difference," Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of hardware, said in the same video.

"In Safari, Web pages will load up to twice as fast. Apps will run and launch faster...graphics can [load] up to seven times quicker, making game playing a lot better," Mansfield said.

If the A5-equipped iPad 2 is any indication, that second-generation Apple tablet showed big jumps in benchmark scores compared to the original iPad.

The other big change is the camera. In fact, the balance of statements by Apple today about internal changes were about the camera and optics. "We've increased the size of the aperture to let in more light," Mansfield said. "And added a fifth lens [resulting in] sharper images, more detail, more accurate color...and 1080p video at 30 frames per second."

Apple has also included a backside illumination sensor for increased sensitivity and a shorter exposure time to achieve the same scene brightness. "Colors are less saturated, and you'll see more details," Apple states on its iPhone 4S camera Web page. The camera also adds face detection and reduced motion blur.

And the A5 chip helps out here too. "The A5 chip is designed with an image signal processor that's just as good as the ones found in dSLR cameras," Apple claims. The image processor allows you to tap to focus and control exposure. And the A5's image processor also enables immediate photo capture (aka "zero shutter lag") when taking pictures.

And the camera also uses better algorithms in iOS 5 for more color accuracy, better white balance, and greater dynamic range.

iPhone 4S internal overhaul:

  • Dual-core Apple A5 chip: essentially the same chip in the iPad: A5 brings two Cortex A9 processor cores and a dual-core version of Imagination's PowerVR SGX543 graphics chip.
  • Better still camera: 8 megapixels versus current 5 megapixels in the current iPhone 4. Apple increased the size of the aperture (larger f/2.4 aperture) and added a fifth lens with an Apple-designed image processor.
  • Video gets smoother: The iPhone automatically steadies shaky shots with video stabilization. The tap-to-focus feature focuses on the part of the image where the focus is desired. And it takes 1080p video at 30 frames per second.
  • 3G: A Qualcomm chipset enables connections to CDMA and GSM networks. And HSPA+. It also enables it to function as a world phone.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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