On October 3, 2011, at the "Let's Talk iPhone" event, Apple announced the successor to the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S, which was eventually retroactively stylized with a lowercase "s," was revealed just hours before Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died at the age of 56. For me, the iPhone 4s will always be the one "4 Steve," and therefore Apple's product of the year for 2011.
In June 2010, my professional life was at a crossroads. After spending nearly a decade as an information technology manager, I began dabbling in blog writing for a technology site. Within a year, I would ditch my day job and decide to write from home full time. Nearly a decade after making that decision, which eventually led me to iMore, I continue to believe it was inspiration from Jobs that convinced me to make a positive career change.
It was during that month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) when the late Apple co-founder revealed what would be the final iPhone of his tenure as Apple CEO. The still-electric iPhone 4 launched just months after the first-generation Apple iPad wowed the world. Collectively, the two products reaffirmed what millions of us already knew about Apple and continue to believe today:
Apple is much more than a computer company. It's also a way of life.
The iPhone 4s
In the long history of iPhones, the iPhone 4s is still remembered as one of the best. In August, our readers ranked the iPhone 4s the No. 3 iPhone of all time.
The iPhone 4s included one important first. While I and many others will forever think of the handset as the one "4 Steve," the "s" in the iPhone 4s name stands for Siri. The intelligent personal assistant, whose original internals were purchased by Apple a year earlier, was available exclusively on the iPhone 4s for a limited time. Today, Siri has firmly taken residence across nearly all Apple products, including iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, HomePod, and Mac.
Eventually, the iPhone 4s collected other firsts. When iOS 9 launched in 2015, the iPhone 4s became the first iPhone to support five major versions of iOS. In July 2019, Apple released iOS 9.3.6, which made the iPhone 4s the longest-supported iPhone.
The iPhone 4s officially arrived in stores on October 11, 2011. At least one variation would remain on the market until September 2014. The iPhone 4s included a stainless steel, dual cellular antenna design, and shipped with a 3.5-inch multi-touch display. Inside, you would find a dual-core Apple A5 chip, 512MB DDR2 RAM, and 8, 16, 32, or 64GB of storage.
Available in both CDMA and GSM formats, the iPhone 4s included an iSight camera with 8-megapixels and was able to record 1080p videos at up to 30 frames per second. The built-in gyroscope added image stabilization; other photo-related features included macro for up-close pictures and faster capture.
Other 2011 debuts
Jobs' prolonged illness, which eventually led to his death, almost certainly caused a slowdown in product launches for Apple in 2011. Before resigning as Apple CEO in August, Jobs would announce the iPad 2 in March of that year. In June, Apple announced Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5 at WWDC. The fourth-generation Time Capsule and cloud services iCloud and iTunes Match also made debuts during the year.
Everything considered, however, it was the iPhone 4s that will forever be known as the Apple gadget of 2011!