The iPhone 4s is the latest devices in the iPhone series. It’s not the iPhone 5 that people were expecting as Apple is following the same path that they did with the iPhone 3G to 3GS with this being a minor upgrade from the iPhone 4. The question is that is there enough of an upgrade here for you to consider the iPhone 4S?
Hardware & Design
Externally there isn’t much change here from the iPhone 4. The screen is still a 3.5 inch retina display with a 960 x 640 resolution and remains one of the sharpest and vibrant displays to look at from all angles. Above the screen is the same VGA front facing camera and below is your only button on the front the home button. The sides are still made of metal and contain your volume buttons, power button, lock switch, 3.5 mm headphone jack and sim card slot. One of the major changes is on the back with the camera upgraded to 8 megapixel with LED flash and can record HD video at 1080p. It’s a welcomed improvement and image quality is good. There is HDR support and image stabilization but there is no way to turn on or off the stabilization feature it’s just on by default when the camera needs it. You can check out the same video and pictures at the bottom of this review.
There are also new internal changes with the Apple A5 dual-core processor which is the same one from the iPad 2. The 4S includes both GSM and CDMA radios so one device will work on both network making it a world phone however CDMA will only work if you activate the phone with a CDMA carrier like Verizon or Sprint. Also with the GSM radio it support HSPA+ 14.4 Mbps for high-speed downloads on AT&T. It’s the same solid design with some cool hardware improvements inside.
Software & Usability
The 4S come shipped with iOS 5 the latest version of the mobile operating system. iOS 5 comes with a number of improvements and upgrades. In this review we will focus on some of the major ones. Siri is one of the major additions which recognizes natural language voice commands to act as a personal assistant. You can as Siri a basic question and it will answer you back directly , search a database to pull up the answer or Google search your question and open up the web browser. The software also can take commands such as reminders, alarms, calendar appointments, send text messages and e-mails. For the most part these features work but you’ll still want to speak as clearly as possible to get the best results.
The notification center is also a new feature which let’s be honest here it’s inspired by android but regardless of that it’s a welcomed improvement over the original notification which were plain terrible. Swiping at the top of the screen will bring the drop down with your notifications. At the top is a weather widget and below each notification is set by groups based on the app such as mail, text, stock quotes, Facebook and tweets (With the new twitter integration into the OS). You can check each individually or close out an entire notification group. These notifications can also be viewed on the lock screen and be directly accessed from the locks screen when you unlock the phone.
iOS 5 takes advantage of Apple’s new iCloud services for iTunes music, e-mail, contacts, calendar, reminders, bookmarks, notes, photo stream, documents & data, Find My iPhone and full backups of your iPhone. Each Apple ID gets 5 GB of free storage.
The OS runs and operates as smooth as the earlier versions have before. Battery life for me at the time of this review was fine and with heavy usage I was able to get through the date on a single charge. Moderate to light users should be able to stretch that out to about 1.5 days. I do know there are some reports out there of poor battery life which could be true from some users but I didn’t experience this in my review. Call quality is also solid with clear audio on both sides of the call.
Yes the 4s is a solid improvement over the previous iPhone and is the best available. If you’re currently using a iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS user its time for you to upgrade and this is the upgrade for you. if you are using an iPhone 4 there is no real reason for you to upgrade. You can get iOS 5 and the upgraded camera is only worth it if you seriously take a lot of photos with the iPhone and want a better camera. Apple has certainly caught up to the competition here with the 4s but they have left room open for competitors to raise the bar higher.