Apple iPhone 4S review: Fast 4ward
The last thing you need is one that looks exactly like your ex. On a second thought, it's too early perhaps to end it. You two did look great together, your iPhone 4 and you. In fact you still do.
iPhone 4S owners, this is between you and your phone's inner voice - Siri. iPhone 4 owners, this is between you and your inner voice. Yes, we know your inner voice is telling you to go for the NEXT iPhone. And no, we're not telling you not to listen to it. Just hang on. Maybe this review will help.
But let's go back and start at the beginning. Every year, a new iPhone is raising the bar for the industry. Usually, it's half a point up - a full point on special occasions. The iPhone 4 was such a special occasion. The iPhone 4S is the half-point type. There probably is nothing special about it. At least, not on the outside.
No, we didn't mean that. The iPhone 4S is still one of the best looking smartphones we've seen. There's just nothing new on the outside to suggest the amount of work done on the innards. And the iOS 5 is only half of the story.
The iPhone 4S is promoted to the dual-core league and has more powerful graphics. There's a major boost to imaging too, with 8MP stills and 1080p video. And on top of it all, Apple try to take voice recognition to a new level with Siri. All in all, the iPhone 4S is a completely different phone under the hood. A brand new device that has been developed for months.
- iOS 5 with iCloud integration
- Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G support with 14.4 Mbps HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
- Dual-band CDMA and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO support
- 3.5" 16M-color LED-backlit IPS TFT capacitive touchscreen of 640 x 960 px resolution
- Scratch-resistant glass front and rear, with fingerprint-resistant coating
- 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU, PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU, Apple A5 SoC
- 512MB of RAM
- Voice recognition, Siri virtual assistant
- 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and touch focus
- 1080p video recording at 30fps
- Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
- GPS with A-GPS connectivity; digital compass
- 16/32/64GB storage options
- Accelerometer, proximity sensor and a three-axis gyro sensor
- Active noise cancellation with a dedicated secondary microphone
- Standard 3.5 mm audio jack, stereo Bluetooth v4.0
- Excellent audio quality
- Slim waistline at only 9.3mm
- Secondary front-facing VGA camera
- Built-in Picture and Video editors
- Rich AppStore
- New antenna design and improved signal reception in poor signal areas
- MicroSIM card support only
- No Flash support in the web browser
- No true multitasking for all applications
- FaceTime video calls work only over Wi-Fi
- No file transfer over Bluetooth or USB Mass Storage mode (independent from iTunes)
- No FM radio
- No stereo speakers
- No microSD card slot
- Non-user-replaceable battery
- Siri still a beta, location services not enabled outside US
- Stuck with iTunes for loading content
On the other hand, it’s a phone you've already seen. You probably have it in the pocket as we speak. And the list of cons does sound familiar, doesn't it? Ah, there you go. We knew you’d notice. The last thing Apple needed was another Antennagate – and as far as we can tell, they’ve had it sorted out.
Apple will probably let this one slip by with a shy, almost apologetic, “Don’t mention it”. But they’ll certainly feel entitled to at least some gratitude for the other stuff in the new iPhone 4S. Things like the dual core CPU and upgraded GPU, iOS 5 and iCloud integration, the new cameraphone credentials and Siri, the she-Jeeves of the digital age.
The iPhone 4S is here, and ready for our traditional hardware checkup. Follow us on the next page where we intend to fast-forward through the familiar design. Just don’t put money on it. It’s a phone we may fall back in love with before we know it.