The iPhone 4S is here, but is it what Apple fans wanted?

Today, Apple introduced the world to its next smartphone, and it looks quite a bit like the iPhone 4. That's because the new phone — called the iPhone 4S — is essentially an iPhone 4 with slightly different insides. Nobody should be surprised by this revelation, as the company has already done this once before with the move from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS. But for the millions of Apple fans eagerly anticipating a device that could wow their Android-equipped peers, the lack of an iPhone 5 will sting for quite a while.

We have been hearing about an all-new iPhone for almost a year now, with sketchy sources and leaked specs pointing to a larger 4" display, thinner profile, and revamped home button. Leaked pictures of protective cases for the mythical device pointed to rounded edges and a unibody frame much like the iPad 2. For the past few months, it was almost a given that the company was poised to release a proper successor to the iPhone 4, and then when Apple announced that it wanted to show everyone the next iPhone, we all got pretty excited.

But the event has come and gone, and what we have to look forward to isn't quite what we were expecting. The iPhone 4S is, indeed, a ridiculously powerful device. The phone is endowed with a beefy dual-core A5 processor that will deliver the same blazing speed that it does in the iPad 2. Mobile gamers have a lot to look forward to, including faster graphics and more robust games, and app lovers will undoubtedly benefit from a doubling in processor speed.

Unfortunately, for everything the iPhone 4S is, there are several things it is not. The general consensus seems to be that Apple may have dropped the ball by not bringing an iPhone 5 to market this year. As the 4S was making its debut, most technology buffs voiced their displeasure with a new smartphone that looks no different than the one we've all had for a year.

Social networks are abuzz with the lack of an iPhone 5 reveal, and Twitter users are still quipping one-liners like "iPhone 4S: The S means 'So, that's it?'" But it wasn't just fans and industry insiders who took issue with the announcement — Apple investors seemed displeased with the lack of an iPhone 5 as well. Stocks dipped sharply as it became clear that an iPhone 5 simply wasn't in the cards, but have since recovered a bit.

The bottom line is that despite what the iPhone 4S can do, it looks just like the one that came before it. With its ultra-clear Retina display, the 3.5" screen is impressive, but loses its luster quickly when placed along side the massive displays of top Android devices. When the iPhone first launched, a 3.5" display was a pretty impressive feature, but that simply isn't the case any longer.

Another area in which the iPhone 4S comes up short is its network capabilities. Everyone was expecting the new Apple smartphone to finally jump on the 4G bandwagon, but again, the company clearly has other plans. The 4S won't support LTE or new iPhone carrier Sprint's blazing WiMax network. Apple did its best to put a positive spin on the situation, stating that the phone supports HSPA+, which some providers refer to as 4G. Unfortunately, it didn't do much to win over fans, as true 4G speeds are still out of the new device's grasp.

Fans, analysts, and tech junkies all tuned in to watch Apple announce the iPhone 5, and for the time being, it looks like we'll all just have to wait. The iPhone 4S will likely be a successful product for Apple, and the new features like an 8-megapixel camera, 1080p high-definition video recording, and Siri — a built-in, voice-activated virtual assistant — are great selling points. But for those of us who have explored every inch of the current iPhone 4, all we can think about is 5.