Saturday, December 17, 2011

iPhone 4s

Sadly this isn’t iPhone 5 we all hoped for.  No matter if you wanted larger screen, slim case or rounded glass screen those things aren’t there, yet. It’s a new spin for previous iPhone 4 but it still can impress many with a faster processor (borrowed from iPad 2), a better camera, a smarter virtual assistant and twice the storage of its predecessor.

Like iPhone 3GS did back in the days to the 3f, the iPhone 4S bumps the iPhone 4 down to 2nd position while keeping it for sale for lowered price. Apple says iPhone 4S is the most amazing iPhone ever. Is it? Yes, of course it is, but read on to see whether it’s really worth an upgrade.

iPhone 4S Hardware

The Apple iPhone 4S after making revolution in industrial design with iPhone 4 last summer still remains one of the most attractive smartphones to have ever been built. Apple’s choice of materials and its manufacturing prowess are unmatched, and puts a group of other wanna-be competitors to shame. Apple didn’t need to make changes in design to make iPhone 4S as the bestselling cellphone ever created.

The iPhone 4S has the same durable glass and metal construction as the iPhone 4. You won’t find any creaks or loose parts, and the only plastic used on the phone is for the home button below the display. The iPhone 4S is a bit heavier than its predecessor by increase from 137 grams (4.83 ounces) to 140 (4.94 ounces) but you won’t feel a difference while holding it. Apple’s use of glass for both the front and back of the phone may be questioned by those who tend to drop their phones often, as it has a tendency to shatter, despite it being reinforced. But the smoothness of the glass gives you the feeling that you are holding a real premium device. Apple has covered both the front and back glass panels with an oleophobic coating that resists face grease and fingerprints better than any other smartphone I have used.

All buttons along the sides remain the same as for iPhone 4s and includes power/sleep/unlock, volume controls, and the switch for ring/vibrate are all made of quality metal and are very satisfying to use. Button feedback is just right, and you never miss a command because the button didn’t respond to your input as it usually happens with low quality plastic buttons.

iPhone 4S comes with two built-in antennas to avoid call drops like it happens to iPhone 4. 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.

This generation of Apple handset comes with A5 dual-core processor you might be familiar from iPad 2 that was released this spring. iPhone 4S RAM size the same as of its predecessor and is 512MB but Apple have expanded the storage options for the iPhone 4S, and you can now choose a 64GB model in addition to the 16GB and 32GB versions that have been available before for iPhone 4.

iPhone 4S, is that it still features a small (by comparison with Samsung Galaxy S2 with 4.3-inch and Samsung Galaxy Nexus with 4.5-inch display) 3.5-inch display. It’s still nonetheless one of the best LCD screens on the market, with its 640 x 960 pixels (326ppi) of resolution and near paper-like viewing angles. The iPhone 4S’ display is noticeably different than the Super AMOLED Plus screens from Samsung, as it’s not nearly as saturated and punchy. However, the colors for iPhone 4s display seem more accurate, and the screen is just a joy to look at. I didn’t find the smaller screen size to be a hindrance in use, even though I’m used to carrying around phones with 4.3-inch or even 4.5-inch displays. As for me the optimal screen size for today’s devices should be 4-inch and that’s why I hoped iPhone 4S will get bigger screen.

Software (iOS 5)

iPhone 4s comes preinstalled with latest iOS 5 which was first shown to public back in June 2011 and only now it’s introduced to wide audience. iOS is great mobile operating system with some feature some major improvements like Siri and improved notifications, other improvements are more minor but will still improve your overall user experience.

The one thing we will blather on about quite a bit more here is Siri. Apple bought the DARPA project called CALO.  in early 2010 and now that functionality is baked right into the iOS 5 but currently available only for iPhone 4S owners. We’ve heard that’s due to the processor demands required for voice recognition, but since you need an active data connection (Wi-Fi or 3G) to use Siri we have to imagine that the heavy lifting for voice recognition is happening somewhere inside Apple’s massive data center they built last year, which would seemingly allow lower-spec devices to do the same. And, since the iPad 2 is running the A5 at an even higher clock speed, there’s just no good reason we can think of for putting Siri exclusively on the iPhone 4S.

We were and still are amazed about with what Siri can do. Siri are capable of doing great number of things, from sending texts and emails to finding restaurants and getting directions from one place to another – all things that are possible to do without voice commands as well but with help from Siri you can do those things hands free.

And then there’s the other part that makes Siri great: you don’t have to remember the exact commands, at least, not as much as you do with Android handsets. If you want directions on Google Navigation in Android you have to specifically say “Directions to X.” With Siri you can say “Tell me how to get to X,” or you can say “Get me directions to X,” or even “Directions to X.” It’s not a major difference but it feels more like Siri has enough “brain” to figure out what you are looking for whereas the voice recognition elsewhere feels more like you have to remember to say what it wants.

Siri signals that Apple is taking a real interest in improving voice recognition and hands-free device interaction. That should mean some amazing progress from here, and we can’t wait to talk to the next generation Siri. We also hope that Siri will be able to run offline one day, because today’s Siri requires a 3G or WiFi connection to do anything. Even the simple voice commands that were available in iOS before no longer work offline, and if you happen to be one of the few who actually used those commands to change tunes while offline, you’re sadly going to have to find another way.

iPhone 4S Battery life

The iPhone 4 offered impressive battery life, and new handset offers even bigger capacity batter, but the main problems is that dual-core processors uses more power than its single core predecessor. While Apple promises up to eight hours of battery life on an active 3G connection which is up one hour from the 4. Curiously, though, standby time has dropped from 300 hours on the iPhone 4 to 200 on the 4S (probably due to new services included into iOS 5, like Siri). Other stats remain the same: 14 hours on GSM, 10 hours of video watching and 40 hours of listening to music.

During this review, I was able to get through a full day, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on a single charge, with my usual battery of two email accounts refreshing at the fastest intervals, push notifications from Facebook and Twitter apps, a handful of text messages, a good amount of web browsing, and few phone calls. The iPhone 4S easily outpaces most any Android smartphone, but it doesn’t beat the best ones by a large margin. I was really hoping to be able to go 24 hours on a single charge with the iPhone 4S, but at this point, it seems like battery technology just isn’t there yet or at least Apple isn’t there to pick them up.


Another of the more noticeable changes from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S can be found in the camera. The iPhone 4S features a new 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.4 lens (improved from the old phone’s f/2.8) and a backside illuminated sensor that is 73 percent (according to Apple) more sensitive to light than the already impressive 5-megapixel sensor found in the iPhone 4.

iPhone 4S camera features autofocus, with face detection, and a flash (this feature is useless just like for any other cellphone), and can record 1080p HD video with digital image stabilization. Latest iPhone also camera is significantly faster (to launch and to shoot) than before, and much faster than the competition. Photos are captured with accurate color and gobs of detail, and the interface is simple to use. The camera opens with minimal lag, and it is possible to bang out shot after shot without it slowing down between images.

iOS has simple but yet useful photo editor that allows to remove red-eyes and allows to crops images as well as add some special effects. Apple also added a camera shortcut to the lock screen and you can snap the shutter by clicking the volume-up key when in the camera app.
Video captured with iPhone 4S can be up to FullHD size (1080p). The quality is similar to mobile phone king Samsung Galaxy S II captured videos. The iPhone 4S does have an advantage with its image stabilization feature though. The iPhone also has a simple video editing feature for trimming clips down to smaller sizes but you can avoid a need to trim your videos just by choosing iPhone 4S with bigger storage.
Unfortunately, Apple stuck with the VGA resolution front-facing found on the iPhone 4 for the iPhone 4S, but it gets the job done for video calling purposes but let’s be honest, who uses their cellphones for video calling?


The iPhone 4S is not radically changed compared to its predecessor and doesn’t features top-tier smartphones do these days (such as a 4-4.5-inch screen or 4G LTE connectivity), but offers what is arguably the best smartphone experience of any device on the market today. Its overall user experience is improves upon the massively successful iPhone 4, and takes the crown as the best smartphone you can get. The iPhone 4S is not perfect but Apple’s simplicity, great design, and quality materials used makes it great smartphone that competitors are still trying to match. Though the iPhone 4S may not appeal to owners of the iPhone 4 due to its almost matching design to the older model, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is looking at their first smartphone or wants to switch to iOS from another platform like Android, Symbian, Windows Phone and others. You could certainly do far worse. As the previous iPhone 3GS owners I already ordered iPhone 4S due to its design and processing speed over two generations older iPhone and you won’t regret if you plan to do the same thing.


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