iPhone 4S Review
The iPhone 4S brings to us some of Apple’s latest and greatest innovations. From the snappy dual-core A5 processor chip inside, to the stunning 8-megapixel camera on the outside, Apple has yet again crafted a beautiful piece of hardware. But does the apple taste as good as Android’s very own ice cream sandwich? Don’t forget about Microsoft’s mango. Let’s see how well the 4S fares against it’s competition.
Apple has given itself quite a reputation when it comes to the look and feel of a product. The fact that the 4S has the same design as it’s predecessor might be a good thing. The bottom line is this (and believe me, I’m not an apple fan boy–I use an android): We can complain all we want about the small screen, or the durability or even the lack of a camera button; but we can’t say apple’s designers haven’t put a lot of effort into designing a quality phone that feels great in your palm. We can count on Apple to hand us well built devices every time. Without making any major changes, Apple has hit the ball out of the park (when it comes to design), again.
One of the biggest disappointments with the 4S, to us, is that Apple has yet to incorporate LTE radios in the device. Yes, the 4S is still running on a two year old 3G network. On the positive side, AT&T’s 4S is offering faster speeds, as their 4S is able to take advantage of their HSPA+ network. Now, although they may claim so, this isn’t a true source of 4G speeds, but our tests in NYC have averaged between 3-6 MB down and about 1-2 (if you are lucky) upload. As far as making calls, you shouldn’t have any problems with reception. If you block the phone’s two bottom antennas, it’ll switch over to the top two for connection. Unless you hold the phone blocking the four antennas, which would look quite odd, your reception and call quality should be great.
One word: Retina. The 3.5 inch display is no less beautiful on the 4S than it was on the 4. Believe me when I say you can expect beautiful display with great colors. The resolution is clear, and you will see crisp, clean text. The iPhone 4S uses the IPS screen technology, and at a resolution of 960 x 540. On a 3.5 inch screen, the results are great. If I had to describe the display in three words, they would be: Bright, Colorful, Crisp.
Apple, like last year, brought over the processor chip from the iPad to the iPhone. That means the 4S is treated with the same dual-core love as the iPad 2. The A5 chip does more than get the job done. With the hardware acceleration in iOS and 512 megabytes of RAM, you will see the same fluid, smooth performance in the 4S as any other iOS product. Although Apple decided to under clock the chip to 800 megahertz, (most likely to preserve battery power), developers will certainly take advantage of the newer processor and graphics chip. In addition to upgrading the CPU, apple also put the PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU chip, and it definitely enhances your video and gaming performance. Infinity Blade 2 runs less choppy, and visuals are rendered much smoother. I have to hand it to apple, this touch was a great one–and buyers will be happy with the improved quality of apps.
The iPhone 4S comes packed with all the iOS 5 goodness you could ever ask for. If you aren’t familiar, the main updates in iOS 5 are things like a notification bar/center, reminders, and small edits like a camera button from the home screen. Without doubt, you still get that iOS look for the most part. iOS 5 blends nicely with the additions of the 8-Megapixel Camera and Siri. Apple has done a good job of integrating the software with the hardware of the 4S.
Apple has made a huge upgrade with the iPhone’s camera. I would probably say, hands down, this is the best camera on a phone I have seen yet. You could replace it with a traditional point and shoot. They upgraded the sensor from 5 to 8 megapixels, resulting in 60% more pixels in the shots. In addition to that, they added a fifth lens and added image stabilization, noise reduction, and 1080p video recording. Our sample shots have been fantastic, and even in low light situations the camera has proven itself to best its competition. Believe me when I tell you this: The camera is amazing.
Even when blown up larger than the 3.5 inch screen, the 8 megapixel sensor really shows. The camera has definitely exceeded my expectations.
Siri is a brilliant innovation. That being said, it has plenty of flaws. In fact, I would probably end up using it more for entertainment than for productivity. It shouldn’t be a game changer as to what phone you would want to buy–but it is pretty cool.
The Bottom Line. The iPhone 4S is the one of the best phones you can buy. Without doubt, one of the best phones of 2011. It represents the place Apple holds in the mobile industry, the way the Galaxy Nexus does with Android, and even the way the Lumia 800 takes the stage for Windows Phone Mango. Should you buy this phone? Good question. It depends on a number of things but I’ll do my best to help. Before you choose a new phone, you should make sure you know 100% what you want. By that I mean, what operating system, the importance of 4G speeds (to you), and how much the design counts to you. By signing a two-year contract, you won’t get those brilliant LTE speeds from competing phones (and probably the iPhone 5). If you want an iPhone, and you are still using the 3GS, it’s really no question. If you have an iPhone 4, I would stick with it. Other than Siri, an improved camera, and the dual-core processor (not even, not much of a difference on daily use), they are virtually the same device. If you are coming from android, it’s your choice. Do you want LTE, or fantastic build quality? Do you want customization, or a clean UI that is smooth and simple. You will have to face questions like these, but it’ll be you who chooses what kind of phone fits your lifestyle. Stay tuned for video review.
Pros: Beautiful design and ergonomics, 8-megapixel camera, Siri, retina display
Cons: 3.5” display, no LTE, more or less a minor upgrade
the verdict: 8.6/10
– Sam Savitt