Unlike many thousands of people, I didn’t go and stand in line at a local store to get my hands on the iPhone 4S. Instead, I pre-ordered one last Friday and waited for the delivery. Although this meant I didn’t get it first thing, it also meant I got to have a decent night’s sleep before the busiest day of my working year. Having already unboxed it, I gave it an initial run through to see how well it performed. I will be writing up a full review in a few days time. It would be wrong to write one up without having lived with it for a weekend at least.
Yep, we’ve seen it all before. The 4S looks and feels almost exactly the same as the iPhone 4. The real difference between this and the GSM iPhone 4 is the antenna design. It more closely resembles the antenna of the the CDMA iPhone 4 on Verizon, but has a SIM card slot in it. Apart from that, there’s nothing to report. It still has the shiny flat back covered in glass, the sharp right-angled corners, and is a little on the heavy side. Despite this, it feels robust and well built. At least that’s one thing it has against its competitors. What the 4S doesn’t have in specs, it makes up for in build and material quality.
The new 8MP camera is, quite frankly, astounding. Other competitor handsets may boast 12MP sensors, with HD video recording, but none match up to the shutter speed and color replication of the iPhone 4S. Definition and color replication in initial test shots are fantastic, bearing in mind that it’s a camera on a phone, and not a DSLR. Below are some shots compared to the iPhone 4. I haven’t altered any settings in either camera, or edited any of the pics. You can see clearly there is much more light, and a more natural color in the 4S shots compared to the 4.
For natural color, the shot of the guitar headstock shows the difference the clearest. The iPhone 4′s camera gives off an almost purple/pink light, whereas the 4S is almost a perfect representation of the actual object. Â For those who really value great shots, and being able to get them anywhere, it’s definitely a feature which could lure some Android faithfuls over from the Dark Side.
We’ve seen the A5 processor before, but not in a phone. The dual-core chip that powers the iPad 2 has been clocked at 800Mhz for the 4S (to increase battery life). With iOS being quite a light operating system which doesn’t require true multitasking, the processor makes light work of anything you throw at it. Besides Real Racing 2 and it’s new “Party Play” feature, there aren’t many apps on the market hard for the iPhone 4 to cope with. So, the jump to the 4S isn’t as noticeable as we’d hope. However, with games like Infinity Blade 2 coming out, and other high-intensity games, I’m certain it will come in to its own eventually.
Since the iPhone 4 isn’t laggy at all, it is difficult to spot any reasons currently to upgrade to the 4S. Despite being 14/15 months old, the 4th generation Apple handset still holds its own quite comfortably in a market full of huge Android devices powered by dilithium conduits, warp drives and all sorts of fancy sounding things. However, if you’re upgrading from a stuttering iPhone 3GS still trying to deal with the iOS 4 update, it will be a breath of fresh air.
The standout feature debuted by Apple at the “Let’s Talk iPhone” event last week can be looked at in two ways. It’s either a cool gimmick which will wear off after a couple of weeks, or it’s the future of communicating with our gadgets. If it is the future, it’s still in its very early stages and is some way off perfection. It is accurate and responsive – to a point. If you happen to speak English with an American, English or Australian accent it should pick it up perfectly (providing you have it set to the right dialect). However, if you’re speaking with a strong accent from any other country, Siri may struggle somewhat.
Voice Control on previous iOS devices is awful. Not being able to distinguish between names that sound a little similar, and not understanding simple commands like “play all songs by Massive Attack” frustrated me so much that I’ve not used it in over 2 years. Siri is a huge improvement, and I mean HUGE. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s intelligence and ability to understand and perform operations based on phrases like “will I need my raincoat today” is impressive. It’s not perfect, but it could be the start of something we dreamed of when we were kids, watching Knight Rider.
Overall impressions are good. But as expected, right now I don’t see the need for anyone to upgrade from an iPhone 4. If choosing between the two it comes down to one thing: Siri. It’s the only major difference. I would be tempted to save the money and get the iPhone 4. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference, so just tell them you have a 4S if necessary.
Keep checking back on Today’s iPhone for more coverage, tests and impressions of Apple’s latest and greatest mobile phone. If you want me to test anything in particular, tweet me: @TiP_Cam.