Apple’s iPhone 4S went on sale at 8:00 am in each time zone this morning, and Apple stores around the country opened to long lines of customers who had camped out for one or more nights waiting for the phones. Those who pre-ordered the phones from the Apple website should receive them today, and those who pre-ordered from carriers Verizon, AT&T or Sprint can pick them up today or walk into the stores and buy them while supplies last. Pre-orders were the highest ever for an Apple product, despite some initial disappointment from iPhone-enthusiasts over the company’s decision to upgrade the iPhone 4 at this time instead of introducing an iPhone 5. That news was quickly overshadowed by the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on October 5. Some people who were lined up today to buy the phone said that the loss of Apple’s visionary leader had made them want the new phone more.
The iPhone 4S retails for $200 for the 16 gigabyte model, $300 for 32 GB and $400 for the 64 GB model. The new phone unifies CDMA and GSM, giving users the freedom to roam between those two networks. It runs on the same A5 chip that’s in the iPad, and comes with iOS 5.
The most talked-about iPhone 4S feature is Siri, an intelligent assistant that allows users to talk to their phones. Users can ask their phones for help with directions, or for reminders about tasks or calendar items. Siri can also respond to requests for updates on news, weather, sports and stock prices, and it can place a simple call to deliver a message to someone in the contact list.
Although initial sales of the iPhone 4S bode well for the phone’s future, the success of Siri may impact how long this sale boom will last. When Apple launched the phone, Analyst Adam Leach with Ovum research told RCR that Siri could be “another Facetime…. something that makes for good demos, but which few people will actually use in practice.”