It's been 15 months since Apple released the iPhone 4. This has left many iPhone and potential iPhone customers eager to see what the company is looking to bring next. As we recently learned, the iPhone 4S is: the same body, screen, construction, appearance as iPhone 4. To say that some people were disappointed with the 4S announcement would be an understatement.
To be fair, beyond the identical exterior, lies the hard work Apple has done inside. An improved processor, antenna and brand new camera for the iPhone 4S. The other big story, or should we say the bigger story with the iPhone 4S, is the iOS 5 software upgrade and voice-activated personal assistant called Siri. iOS 5 brings over 200 new features to Apple's smartphone platform, most of which are available to current owners of previous generation devices.
Given the breakneck pace at which smartphones are evolving, many have called the iterative improvements with the iPhone 4S a bug, as it looks like a new Android device with better, bigger, and faster all-out goes down every other minute. Even so, the iPhone 4S is gently improving over the popular iPhone 4 and enhancing the experience already available to a smartphone buyer. Read on to find out what the iPhone 4S is all about, and if it's a worthy upgrade to the lauded iPhone 4.
How the iPhone 4S holds up against the competition (More info)
|Apple iPhone 4S||Motorola Droid Bionic||Samsung Galaxy S II||HTC Sensation 4G||T-Mobile G2X||Motorola Photon 4G||Apple iPhone 4||Samsung Nexus Prime|
|price||TBA||$ 590||$ 550||$ 490||$ 360||$ 550||$ 549||TBA|
|Price on contract||$ 199- $ 399||$ 150- $ 220||$ 100- $ 150||$ 200||$ 150||$ 100- $ 180||$ 99||TBA|
|Availability||AT&T, Verizon, Sprint||Verizon||AT&T, Sprint||T-Mobile||T-Mobile||sprint||AT&T, Verizon (soon Sprint)||November?|
|N / A|
|processor||1 GHz Apple A5||1 GHz TI OMAP 4430||1.2 GHz Samsung Exynos GT-I9100||1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260||1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 250||1 GHz Nvidia Tegra 250||1 GHz Apple A4||1.2 GHz TI OMAP4460|
|display||3.5 "(640 x 960)||960 x 540 (4.3 ")||800 x 480 (4.27 ")||4.3 "(540 x 960)||4.0 "(480 x 800)||960 x 540 (4.3 ")||3.5 "(640 x 960)||4.65 "(1280 x 720)|
|memory||512 MB||1 GB||1 GB||768 MB||512 MB||1 GB||512 MB||1 GB|
|Internal memory||16 GB to 64 GB||16 GIGABYTE||16 GIGABYTE||4 GB (1 GB accessible)||8 GB||16 GIGABYTE||8 GB||32 GB|
|External storage||No||32 GB microSD||32 GB microSD||32 GB microSD||32 GB microSD||32 GB microSD||No||32 GB microSD|
|Front camera||VGA||0.3 MP||2MP||0.3 MP||1.3MP||0.3 MP||VGA||1.3MP|
|Wireless connection||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1||???|
|Talk / standby time||8 hours, 8.3 days||10.8 hours / 8.3 days||9 hours / 12.5 days||8 hours / 14.5 days||7.8 hours / 16.5 days||10 hours / 8.3 days||7 hours / 12.5 days||???|
|operating system||iOS 5||Android 2.3.4||Android 2.3.4||Android 2.3.4||Android 2.3.3||Android 2.3.4||iOS 4/5||Android 4.0|
|Dimensions (inch)||4.50 x 2.31 x 0.37||5.01 x 2.63 x 0.42||4.93 x 2.60 x 0.33||4.96 x 2.57 x 0.44||4.88 x 2.49 x 0.43||5.00 x 2.63 x 0.48||4.50 x 2.31 x 0.37||0.34 thick|
The Apple iPhone 4S is still one of the most attractive smartphones ever built. Apple's choice of materials and manufacturing capabilities are unmatched and put a group of other would-be competitors to shame. The iPhone 4S is physically identical to the CDMA version of the iPhone 4, and the average person cannot tell the difference between the two phones from the outside. I was a huge fan of the iPhone 4 design when it came out, and things in the market haven't changed enough to think differently today.
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The iPhone 4S shares the same glass and metal construction as the iPhone 4. You won't find any creaking or loose parts, and the only plastic used on the phone is the home button under the display. The phone is still 9.3mm thick and weighs 140g. Its smaller dimensions make it feel very tight and firm in your hand. 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 frequently as it is prone to breakage despite being reinforced.
The smoothness of the glass makes you feel like you're holding a premium device as you pick it up. Apple put an oleophobic coating on both the front and back glass panels, which is more resistant to facial oil and fingerprints than any other smartphone I've used.
The buttons on the sides of the phone to turn on / off / unlock, increase and decrease the volume, and the ring / vibrate switch are all made of metal and are very satisfactory to use. Travel and feedback are spot on, and you'll never miss a command because the button didn't respond to your input.
If there's one complaint that can be made about the hardware design of the iPhone 4S, it's that it still has a small (by comparison) 3.5-inch display. Even so, with a resolution of 640 x 960 pixels and viewing angles that are almost paper-like, it is still one of the best LCD screens on the market.
The display of the iPhone 4S differs significantly from the Super AMOLED Plus screens from Samsung in that it is nowhere near as saturated and punchy. The colors seem more accurate, however, and the screen is just a joy to look at. I didn't find the smaller screen size a hindrance, despite being used to carrying around phones with 4.3 "or even 4.5" displays.
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Apple has expanded storage options with the iPhone 4S, and you can now choose a 64GB model in addition to the 16GB and 32GB versions previously available.
It's fair to say that the iPhone 4 design stood the test of time well and now looks just as good as it did almost a year and a half ago when we first looked at it. This does not apply to other phones.