Unfortunately for many people, the iPhone 5 isn’t out yet. People were excited for the highly-anticipated, wedge-shaped, sleek and ultra-slim model prior to Apple’s latest event – “Let’s Talk iPhone” – but hopefully your disappointment was assuaged by the release of the new iPhone 4S. Though the phone is merely an improvement on the old iPhone 4, it’s still impressive.
The 4S is equipped with two times the storage, a higher-quality camera, faster processor, and better virtual assistant than the original iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S forces the iPhone 4 into a second-place position, which means Apple fans determined to have the best will be eager to buy it, despite it’s similarities to 4.
The design of the 4S is almost painfully familiar. The unveiling of the 4 over the summer of 2010 awed consumers with its amazingly unique design. Its exposed screws, stainless steel edging and front and back glass were like nothing else available. In stark contrast with the sleek, nondescript earlier iPhone models, 4′s chunky, industrial design was fun and fresh. Its design was so completely original that simply seeing one in the weeks following its release was cause for excitement. Everyone wanted to hold it or touch it; to test its weight and compare it to the standard-style model.
Though few would make a fuss about touching the 4S, it’s still very impressive. The 4S is denser and heavier, though small when compared to the standard Android model. It has a unique feel, very different from the feel of its mostly plastic competition. It is obvious that the 4S follows in the 4′s footsteps as a well-crafted, beautiful machine.
With the exception of a few tiny changes that even the most observant Apple fan would not notice, the 4S has an identical exterior design. A few of it’s controls were shifted around by less than a millimetre and it’s antenna layout matches Verizon’s CDMA iPhone 4 version. More importantly, though, is that they have now changed the way the antennas work.
The 4S is capable of switching between the antennas, even if you’re in the process of making a phone call. Though it cannot be said for sure right now, it is hoped that this ability will fix the iPhone’s reputation for dropping calls. As it usually takes time for these kind of bugs to be noticed; only time will tell. It can be said, however, that when tested against the 4, the 4S had one more bar on a consistent basis.
Though the outside matches, the inside differs greatly. Truthfully, Apple seems to have thrown out the iPhone 4′s internal setup and replaced it with an entirely new one, including the A5 processor, though the dual-core chip is the same one used to power the iPad 2. However, the phone runs at 800MHz, which is slower than the 1GHz clocked in by the tablet. The device’s RAM is the same as the 4, at 512MB, but the available storage is doubled. It matches the iPod Touch, which is maxed out at an available 64GB.
The other big change on the inside is in the new wireless network support. The device is a quadband device, though it also offers dual-band. That adds up to you, the user, getting 3G data from practically every single carrier, both locally and abroad. Those providers, however, are being shifty about how much success you may actually have at porting an iPhone 4S from one of them to the others, up until the release of the unlocked version.
The front screen is the same 960 x 640, 3.5 inch Retina display, which amazed everyone 16 months ago when it came out on the 4. While the 326ppi density is easily one of the best quality screens available on any phone today, after nearly a year and a half, consumers have largely gotten over it. As smartphones have gotten bigger since the release of the 4 in 2010, the smaller-sized 3.5 inch screen seems comparatively tiny.
The 4S is ushering in the iOS5. Apple’s latest version of its mobile OS manages to feel newer and less-dated without changing any of the basics. iOS 5 has quite a few changes, both small and large. The update to the iOS 5 is solid and helps make the device run smoother and better.
The digital helper – known as Siri – is the newest evolution of Siri Virtual Assistant and is only found on the 4S. If you get the chance to test Siri, you’ll be impressed. She can do everything from giving you directions or finding a restaurant to sending texts. Though these are things other devices can do, Siri’s talent lies in her ability to understand casual English and context. Siri’s context skill is amazing in that she understand commands regardless of how you phrase them, while other devices require a specific key-phrase to understand what you’re asking.
Though Siri is not unprecedented, she is more accurate than the Windows phone’s comparable program. The Android phone, however, holds it’s own but is not quite as friendly as Siri. Although Siri’s skills are still limited – she doesn’t function offline and she won’t read things that are “images” as opposed to pure text – she is incredibly impressive anyway. And she’s a step in the right direction.
The 4S’s battery life leaves something to be desired, with its actual run-times falling short of those promised. Its speed, however, certainly won’t disappoint. But other than things opening a bit more quickly, there’s little difference between the 4 and the 4S. The 4 continues to run very well, despite now being slightly outdated, making the upgrade seem unnecessary. If your contract is up and you’re upgrading to an iPhone, go with the 4S. Don’t rush out, though, to switch from the 4 to the 4S. While it certainly does things better than its predecessor, it fails to introduce any new features.
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