Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4S received positive reactions from technology gadget reviewers for its new voice-recognition software, faster processing speed and improved picture-taking quality.
The new features make up for any drawbacks of not altering the body design, said reviewers from the New York Times, Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. They praised the voice-command feature named “Siri” that lets users ask for weather updates, make calendar appointments or send messages without tapping on the keyboard.
“Crazy good, transformative, category-redefining speech recognition,” said David Pogue, the New York Times reviewer.
“Vastly better” than rival phones with voice commands, said Bloomberg’s Rich Jaroslovsky.
Siri is the “standout feature,” said Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal.
Many customers didn’t bother waiting for the reviews. While the device doesn’t go on sale until Oct. 14, Apple said earlier this week it received more than 1 million pre-orders for the iPhone 4S, a record-setting pace for the company’s top-selling product. The company could sell as many as 3 million this weekend, said Mike Abramsky, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
Owners of the iPhone 4 don’t need to rush out and buy the latest model, Mossberg said. The new iPhone isn’t a “dramatic game-changer like previous models,” yet those with older iPhone models or more basic phones will find it a “pleasure and a good value,” he said.
Mossberg said that although the voice-recognition software wasn’t perfect, he could dictate e-mails and text messages, including while driving in a car with a Bluetooth headset.
The device has the same body design as the iPhone 4, which debuted in June 2010. That similarity “conceals sheer magic,” said the headline of the New York Times review.
Pogue, the newspaper’s technology reviewer, complimented the new device’s more powerful A5 processor chip that was first released inside the iPad 2 this year. It speeds up the device and lets users move between applications more quickly. The camera is “much better” and “among the best on a phone,” he said.
25 Million iPhones
USA Today’s Edward C. Baig said new features for storing music and other files on Apple’s servers will make it easier for users to access content from anywhere via a Web connection. The new feature is “Apple’s digital hub for the Internet age,” he said.
The new iOS 5 operating system has more than 200 new features. Baig complimented its new notification system as an improved way to quickly read through missed calls and messages.
The iPhone 4S will be Apple’s first major hardware release since the Oct. 5 death of co-founder Steve Jobs. It will be available at Apple retail stores in the U.S. beginning at 8 a.m. local time Friday and costs $199, $299 and $399, depending on the features.
Apple may sell more than 25 million iPhones in the quarter ending in December, making it the “strongest iPhone launch ever,” said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray Cos. in Minneapolis. The iPhone is Apple’s biggest source of revenue, accounting for about half of sales.
For the first time, the phone works with both CDMA and GSM wireless standards, which are used in different parts of the world. The phone has an “intelligent antenna system” for improved call quality.
Apple’s shares rose 3 percent to $400.29 yesterday in U.S. trading. The stock has increased 24 percent this year.
--Editors: Michael Tighe, Nicholas Wadhams
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