Apple (s aapl) officially began taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4S via its online store at around 12:45 a.m. PDT (3:45 a.m. EDT) on Friday morning. Users eligible for an upgrade can place their order now, and shipments will begin arriving at customer doorsteps next Friday, Oct. 14. Pre-orders are began earlier at around 12 a.m. PDT at Sprint(s s), and Verizon‘s(s vz) online stores, while AT&T(s t) lagged behind, and still hadn’t begun offering orders as of this writing.
The iPhone 4S is available in 16, 32 and 64 GB capacities in either white or black, for $199, $299 or $399 respectively on contract when you sign up for a new, two-year agreement in the U.S. It’s also available unlocked direct from Apple in some countries, like Canada, beginning at $649. An unlocked version will be available in the U.S. beginning in November.
The 4S improves on its predecessor with a dual-core A5 processor, dual-core graphics processing, a new dual-mode (GSM and CDMA) antenna that can reach up to 14.4 Mbps on HSDPA networks, and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with improved sensor technology and full, 1080p HD video capture.
Maybe the most significant improvement from an end-user perspective is the addition of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal digital assistant, which can do things like set appointments, compose text messages and check the weather, all in response to natural language queries like “Will I need my raincoat this weekend?” The iPhone 4S also comes with iOS 5, Apple’s latest mobile operating system software, preinstalled. The new operating system will be available for other eligible device owners Oct. 12.
Let us know if you decided to pre-order the iPhone 4S, and if so, what you’re looking forward to most about it.