Never can there have been such a emotion-fuelled product launch as with the iPhone 4S, what with the rawer-than-raw passing of the man that made it all possible in the first place, and the moans and gripes of the Apple geekosphere about how it’s not really a new iPhone and how they are now going to have to wait another year to get that gloaty new-phone feeling.
This is all being the case it was vital that Apple delivered the goods with their upgrade of the 4, and in general it seems they have. Below we are going to take you through the best bits of the best reviews of the new Apple icon, and let you work out for yourself whether it’s time to upgrade.
Much has been made of the fact the 4S is just an upgrade of the 4, and thisismynext has this to say:
‘there isn’t anything notable about the exterior of the iPhone 4S in comparison with the company’s previous flagship phone. Really, if you’ve ever seen an iPhone 4 or even looked at photos, you will have a crystal clear idea of what this phone is like.’
It does add the caveat, however, that ‘Compared with most (if not all) of its Android competition, this industrial design looms tall.’
iPhone 4 owners may be able to update the features on their phone to 4S standard with the free i0S 5 upgrade available, but Apple doesn’t just want you to do that. It wants you to spend your hard earned on the brand spanking new! Is it worth it though? T3 seems to think so when it says ‘Apple has built its best phone to date’ and that ‘apps launch quicker, web pages load faster, multi-tasking is more fluid.’
Much has been made of the dodgy antennae that was the 4’s principle bugbear. If the 4S truly wants to define itself as a model in its own right, it needs to see that these problems are fixed and, thankfully this seems to be the case with the antennae being moved to the same place as on the CDMA iPhone 4. Engadget says this should mean that ‘the iPhone 4S can now intelligently and instantly switch between those exterior antennas, in real-time, even while you’re in the middle of a call.’ They say it lives up to this promise when ‘in testing a Vodafone 4S against a 4 we found the 4S to be consistently one bar higher, and did a far better job of holding on to 3G data.’
The big ace up the sleeve of the 4S is the Siri program, which is what we might term a digital media assistant. Thisismynext describes it thus:
Utilizing a combination of voice recognition, logic processing, and text-to-speech, the software can interpret requests and follow conversations. Through Siri, you can use natural language to get directions, send text messages, schedule reminders or appointments, get suggestions on where to eat, and lots more. Not only does Siri understand what you’re saying to it, it understands the context in which you’re saying it — so for instance, if you try and schedule a meeting on top of another meeting, Siri will warn you and ask if you’d like to change the time of your new appointment, and it’ll listen as you tell it a new time.
Of course, the problem with something like Siri is that it can be seen as more of a gimmick than an essential, especially when it’s the first edition of the program and as such is probably not yet at reaching its full potential. However, despite this Daring Fireball was pretty effusive with its praise and said:
The best sign I can think of regarding Siri’s practical utility: after a week of using this test iPhone 4S, yesterday, while using my regular iPhone 4, without thinking I held down the home button to create a new reminder for myself, and when the old Voice Control interface appeared, my mind went blank for a few seconds while I pondered what went wrong. I missed Siri already.
I wouldn’t say I can’t live without Siri. But I can say that I don’t want to.
Processor/ Battery Business
Numbers alert! Pocket-lint give all the rundown of the boomf under the bonnet with:
The Apple A5 chip has a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor clocked at 1GHz. On the graphics front, it’s an upgrade to a dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU and there’s, again, 512MB of RAM in support. According to Apple, what this means in real terms is a chip that has a CPU twice as powerful as its predecessor and a GPU that can work seven times harder.
Cnet goes on to say that the new A5 chip means that Apple have promised a battery life of ‘8 hours of talk time over 3G, 14 hours over 2G, 6 hours of browsing over 3G, 9 hours via Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback, and 40 hours of music playback,’ though whether or not the reality of that is going to be different than the promise, only time will tell.
Positive reaction to the camera runs throughout each review, with Cnet saying that ‘the iPhone 4’s 5-megapixel camera was already great, but it’s about to get better. The iPhone 4S has an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus, flash, f/2.4 aperture lens, and a backside-illuminated CMOS sensor that allows 73 percent more light than the previous sensor.’ Thisismynext then carries on where they left off with the most unreserved praise of all: ‘The iPhone 4S took some of the nicest, cleanest photos I’ve ever seen from a mobile device. If you’ve ever thought about using a phone as a replacement for your point-and-shoot, feel free to start taking that concept seriously.’
As you might expect, reviews have been unanimously positive, but slightly backed up with a sense of caution and/or regret that it isn’t that much of a change from the iPhone 4. Engadget says: ‘if your contract happens to be up and you want an iPhone and you haven’t already jumped on the iPhone 4 then yes, this is the one you want,’ but goes on to add ‘if you’re mid-contract or haven’t quite yet been wooed by all that iOS has to offer, we’d recommend sitting this one out. The iPhone 4S does everything better than the iPhone 4, but it simply doesn’t do anything substantially different.’
Thisismynext continues in a similar vein when with: ‘The iPhone 4S is a great device for some, but what if you’re thinking of upgrading from an iPhone 4? That’s a tougher call. The phone is faster, to be sure, and has an amazing camera. And of course, you can’t get Siri unless you have a 4S… but I just don’t know if any of those reasons are compelling enough to convince previous buyers to upgrade.’ Saying that, they do go on to finish their review with ‘the iPhone 4S is pretty damn cool.’