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Sunday, November 06, 2011

My Take on the iPhone 4S

I was one of the 4 million people who pre-ordered/reserved an iPhone 4S before launch day. It took a week and a half after October 14th to finally get the phone (which felt far too long considering iOS 5 crippled my iPhone 3GS to the point of being able to squeeze out three hours of battery life if I’m lucky) and now that I have had it for about week, I can give a fair opinion about it.
There are a lot of complaints that it is not the ‘iPhone 5.’ I would like to address these complaints with a simple concern that people don’t know how to count. The iPhone 4S is the fifth iPhone, regardless of what they call it, so the people that say they are going to wait for the ‘5’ will be waiting a very, very long time because if Apple decides to give a number to their next phone, if anything it will be iPhone 6. The iPhone 4 wasn’t called the iPhone 2. I feel like I needed to address this concern front and centre because there was a lot of disappointment surrounding this phone simply because of rumors. Because of this, a lot of features were forgotten and/or left out of people’s minds and reviews.

The first obvious improvement is the speed. Apple has built the same A5 chip found in the iPad 2 (although according to some reports, with a slower clock speed) into the iPhone 4S. Coming from a 3GS I notice an incredible difference with everything I do. A lot of my friends have iPhone 4s and there is a noticeable speed increase over the 4 (although not as huge from the 3GS). Aside from the obvious improvement in processor heavy apps (like games), the difference can also be seen in multitasking, being able to quickly switch from app to app without having to wait for the app to release from hibernation really goes a long way. The antenna got a nice boost as well, doubling the download speeds.
I would like to begin this point with saying that I know nothing about photography, but I fall in love with every single photo I take with the 4S. They added a fifth lens and opened the aperture according to Apple’s iPhone 4S video. I have noticed personally the depth field (or whatever the correct term is) is incredible. My sister is studying photography in school and she is impressed. The integration with iCloud and Photo Stream are really handy (although crippled on a PC).
Other features such as AirPlay Mirroring and speech to text are both nice welcome additions. I find myself using my iPhone as a controller for games I beam to my 32” (I know, big spender). But of course the biggest and most talked about feature is Siri, or has I have tried to rename her, Veronica (she didn’t like that very much). For a beta that isn’t technically available in Canada until early 2012 (Apple’s FAQ on Siri) it does pretty well. It is no where near perfect but it is helpful to schedule reminders, bring up contacts, search for information, and compose and read text messages. When you have a headset it, it reads your message back to you (after you compose it) without needing to ask it first. What is odd however, is that I find speech to text within the keyboard in apps does a much better job at understanding me then talking directly to Siri. I can’t really explain this but it is something I have noticed. Overall I think it is a good start but it still needs work. It is a beta after all.
There are still several things I would like to see in Apple’s next iPhone (such as an NFC chip, a better front facing camera - it is truly terrible, and better battery life). I get about eight hours of battery on a single charge which isn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination. Hopefully iOS 5.0.1 will fix this issue as Apple has promised.