Well, I finally received my long awaited upgrade from my trusted 3GS to the iPhone 4S. How good is this phone?
Let’s start off with the design and display. This is the same phone design and display that you find in the iPhone 4. While it’s very sexy looking and the screen is gorgeous, there isn’t an upgrade here and I personally feel very unsafe dropping this phone due to the glass backing. Yes, you can put a back cover on the phone to help protect it, but then you would lose the sexy look that Apple has intended us to see. So negative points here as they should have really upgraded this. The display is also the same exact display that you see in the iPhone from last year. Using over a year old technology in the cell phone biz probably isn’t a great idea. The display does look very nice, but ultimately they should have made some sort of an improvement as, in my opinion, the Galaxy phone has a better looking screen.
The A5 dual-core chip is the same processor we find in the iPad. For some reason, as in my iPad to iPad 2 upgrade, it just feels like this should have always been in the phone. The 4S screams with the same speed its bigger brother the iPad 2 does. People should be very happy with this and content for the next two years they have it. While an iPhone 5 will upgrade the speed yet again, this phone functions perfectly with this processor and runs apps with no slow-down. So upgrading after a year more than likely will not be necessary. The GPU is up to 7x faster than that of last year’s model. We will have to wait until probably December to see this in action with Infinity Blade getting built for this chip. In regards to the memory, Apple disappoints us again with only 512mb. Their OS does run nicely on 512, but it’s still unable to adequately remember websites, thus making it tough for people to do research and work on it.
I’m coming from the 3GS, don’t forget. I can tell you that this antenna is great. I was previously unable to get any phone calls while sitting at my desk. I would have to leave the building that I work in to actually get any cell reception. With its Smart Antenna system, the deathgrip is now a thing of the past. You would really have to hold the phone in an unusable way to block both antennas and cause any kind of drop-off in reception. Kudos to Apple on their improvements here.
Siri is the big addition into the iPhone department. Being an exclusive feature to the 4S because of it’s dual-core chip, this is the feature that everyone is talking about. My experience with the feature has been somewhat mixed. Let me just say that this feature is still in beta, so the finished version will hopefully get all the kinks ironed out. The voice recognition seems to get most of what you say unless you talk a bit too fast. Then there’s the fact that Siri doesn’t always get what you want right. I’ve had Siri dictate a few messages for me and I would say that one of every five messages was incorrect. The other issue that I’ve had is Siri not even funtioning all the time. I can see my phone trying to comnunicate with Apple’s big servers, but Siri seems to be unable to talk back and forth on certain occasions. The feature is great, but it seems to be a very early beta right now.
Again, remember that I’m upgrading from the 3GS. Battery life for this phone is great so far in comparision. I understand that there is a software issue that is draining this phone’s battery life making it worse than the 4, but it’s still better than my old phone. Once this glitch is fixed this phone’s battery is going to be absolutely amazing. With the release of 5.0.1, I am still getting the same battery life as 5.0. However, I can get through a day with pretty good usage on the phone.
The 4S gets a great upgrade in the camera department. Users now get an 8MP camera with an improved backlight sensor this makes taking pictures with your phone actually worth it. It also has a 1920x1080p video recording capabilities. I took some pictures of just random stuff over the weekend and was very pleased with the results. The biggest thing to remember with the HDR enabled is that you really need to take a still shot. Any sort of movement when taking the picture will cause the photo to blur. Also, keep in mind that the photos are going to take up 3.2mb each on your phone. That adds up quickly.
So, is this phone an upgrade? Absolutely. Is it worth upgrading from the iPhone 4? Probably not. The speed enhancements are great, and the camera is fantastic. However, I ultimately don’t feel it’s necessary for anyone who picked the iPhone 4 up last year to upgrade now. The improvements are a standard upgrade for year to year and there is nothing that would scream to get this now. Siri is a nice feature, but has a long way to go to make itself a must have. I personally am wondering why Apple waited until October to release a 12 month upgrade as the additions just don’t warrant the longer wait.