CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple Inc. unveiled a new iPhone yesterday that is faster and more powerful but stops short of a more radical upgrade. It also said Sprint customers will now be able to use one.
The iPhone 4S has an improved camera with a higher-resolution sensor. The processor is faster, which helps run smoother, more realistic action games. It is also a "world phone," which means that Verizon iPhones will be usable overseas, as AT&T iPhones are.
There had been speculation that Apple would reveal a more radical revision of the phone, an "iPhone 5."
Yesterday's move leaves room for speculation that Apple will reveal a new model in less than a year, perhaps one equipped to take advantage of Verizon's and AT&T's new high-speed data networks.
There had also been speculation that Apple would include a chip that could talk to payment terminals at retail stores, turning the iPhone into a "mobile wallet." Competitors are starting to include this capability in their phones, although the payment systems are still immature. Apple made no mention of such a feature in the iPhone 4S.
Apple is including a "personal assistant" application called Siri in the iPhone 4S. It responds to spoken questions and commands such as "do I need an umbrella today?"
It is an advanced version of speech-recognition apps found on other phones.
The new iPhone comes with mobile software that includes the ability to sync content wirelessly, without having to plug the device into a Mac or Windows machine.
New CEO Tim Cook led Apple's first major product event in years without Steve Jobs presiding. Mr. Jobs, battling health problems, resigned the CEO's post in August.
Apple's new mobile software, iOS 5, will also be available on Oct. 12 for existing devices -- the iPhone 4 and 3GS, both iPad models and later versions of the iPod Touch.
Apple said it will launch its iCloud service on Oct. 12. It will store content such as music, documents, apps, and photos on Apple's servers and let people access them wirelessly on numerous devices.
Apple said the new phone will be available in black or white. It will cost $199 for a 16 gigabyte-version, $299 for 32 GB, and $399 for 64 GB -- all with a two-year service contract requirement. It will be available through Sprint Nextel Corp.,AT&T Inc., and Verizon Wireless.
Preorders will begin Friday with availability on Oct. 14.