[Update, 11:40 a.m.: The event has now ended: No iPhone 5! Wow. Post updated with details on pricing and availability below.]

On stage in Cupertino, Calif., just now, Apple confirmed plans to launch a new iPhone 4S, with the same exterior design as the existing iPhone 4 but an overhauled engine underneath, including an Apple A5 microchip that delivers graphics as much as 7 times faster than the existing model.

We’re tracking the news via live blogs, including gdgt and This is My Next.

Built in will be a new voice-controlled “intelligent assistant” that lets people natural language to control the device. It’s called Siri, based on based on technology picked up by Apple through its purchase of a company of the same name.

On stage, for example, Apple executive Scott Forstall asked, “What’s the weather like today?” and the phone showed the current weather conditions.

Siri also can read messages and respond to complex requests. Asked to find a great Greek restaurant in Palo Alto, the system responds by saying it’s found five of them and sorted them by rating.

See this MIT Technology Review article on Siri for more background.

The new iPhone will download data at twice the previous rate, at theoretical peak speeds of almost 14.4 Mbps, according to Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller, who compared the rate to 4G speeds touted by the company’s competitors. Battery life will also improve, and the phone will have an 8 megapixel camera, up from 5 megapixels in the iPhone 4. The video camera will shoot in 1080p high-definition resolution.

The iPhone 4S will sell for $199 (16GB), $299 (32) and $399 (64), the existing iPhone 4 will sell for $99 — and the iPhone 3GS will come free with a wireless contract. The new phones will launch Oct. 14.

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  • Guest

    I’m very disappointed and I will continue to advise clients to wait until iPhone 5 is available. This is simply a reheated iPhone 4 served with rice and ketchup: a soft meal, one that might fill the stomach, but one that does not enkindle the soul.

    • http://silicoxvalley.com person287

      What a lovely description :) (But you’re right to be honest!)

  • http://silicoxvalley.com person287

    To be honest I’m a massive fan, but the 4S really doesn’t make me feel like I want to upgrade. The Siri could probably be got from cydia via a tweak soon enough, I can’t really see where the A5 will be used as my iPhone 4 is fast enough now, and there’s nothing else major. The camera looks nicer, but not £600 nicer. Oh well, I just gotta hope the iPhone ‘5’ gets 4G/LTE (And the UK Networks get LTE/4G!)

  • Anonymous

    Sell Phone, Where can I sell phones? Cell Phone Buyer – Where can I sell phones? – Well your answer is at SellArena.com… one of the best cell phone buyers in the market

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