Apple iPhone 4S review
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The iPhone 4S exterior is similar to the iPhone 4, but the phone gets the A5 dual-core processor. Other 4S exclusives, is the Siri voice recognition system comes with iOS 5. There is also an upgraded 8-megapixel camera, the sensor gets an upgrade too with something called backlight illumination, and an image signal processor that enables face detection and 26 percent improved white balance.
Review On : Apple iPhone 4S
By Loh Ving Sung
At a glance:
+Siri is a novel application
+Camera rivals point and shoot devices
+Retina Display still good after a year
-No local Siri support
17 November 2011 – It looks like the same phone, certainly feels like the same phone, but the iPhone 4S’ changes are under the hood - an upgraded dual core processor, a new camera and more which we will elaborate in the review.
Apple has made a number of changes in iOS, from iReminders to iMessages. There are certainly a lot of new things to chew over for users. Additionally, we will look at iCloud and Siri, which are both big additions to the new iPhone 4S.
The phone has already broken the iPhone 4’s sales records, but will it be worth the upgrade? Read on the find out.
In the box:
-Apple iPhone 4S
-SIM eject tool
Exterior, Controls and Screen
As we said earlier it is has the same sleek Apple one piece design, it still has a glass front and back, and a band of aluminium wrapping around the phone. And while there were many enthusiasts who were disappointed with the design, we say it aged pretty well. After 16 months, its design is still one to beat.
There is still a 3.5-inch Retina Display, that one home button, its left spine still comes with a mute button and a volume rocker. It has that nice, dense feeling that iPhones usually come with. This year’s iPhone 4S is a tad heavier compared to the iPhone 4, but the extra weight didn’t register in our hands though.
Underneath the exterior is where the hardware upgrades are most noticeable, it is a dual-core 1GHz processor now with 512MB of RAM, which is the same amount of RAM as the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S feels a little snappier when launching apps and the camera’s processing is noticeably faster too.
Apple also threw in a dual-antenna design to counter the effects of last year’s ‘death grip’. There is also the matter of the new iPhone 4S being a world phone, where it works with CDMA and GSM networks around the world.
The iPhone 4S has a rear 8-megapixel camera with a slew of Software upgrades, but the front is still a standard VGA camera. Apple also introduces a 64GB Internal memory version in addition to the original 16GB and 32GB.
During the course of our test, the days with the heaviest use included web browsing, phone calls, listening to music and more. The phone lasted a full day with little juice left in the tank before we charged it again.
the 4S looks exactly like the iPhone 4
Software, Applications and Games
Apple has traditionally released a major update to iOS whenever they release a new phone, and as such the iPhone 4S comes preloaded with the latest iOS 5. And this update builds on the previous iOS, so while it is similar to the iOS4, iOS 5 comes with quite a number of improvements of its own.
And right off the bat, we swiped down our touchscreen and found the brand new Notification Centre, there are no longer intrusive pop-ups when someone sends you an email or text message. It comes with built-in weather app and a stock ticker. From the Notification Centre you can deal with app notification individually, and if there are any notifications, it will also show up in your lock screen and swiping the lock screen will immediately allow you take action.
iOS5 supports wireless syncing now, so you can sync apps, music, video and settings over your local network without (technically) plugging in. You will still need to plug-in the phone to a power supply and latch onto the same WiFi network as your desktop before starting. Software updates are pushed over-the-air now, and Apple is only pushing essential files (iOS 5.0.1 is 55MB), so updates are quicker and less tedious now.
Taking heart from BlackBerry Messenger, Apple introduced their own free messaging service called iMessages, which is integrated within Messages app. It works over WiFi and 3G, plus it is free and you are able to send to anyone on iOS 5. Messaging is instantaneous, and you can tell when someone receives your message and when someone is typing via Ellipsis point (they are little periods that blink). You can also send photos, videos, contacts and locations.
iOS 5 sees its first dedicated Reminders app, and it supports locations too. If you were to set a reminder to attend a meeting at the office, once you reach the office you will receive a reminder to attend said meeting. Reminders will automatically update calendars too.
Safari now has the Reading List allowing you to save articles to read later, allowing you to bookmark specific pages. But the ‘Reader’ functionality was the one that really improved our reading experience. Tapping the Reader button on the URL bar optimises the webpage, chucking out ads turning the text into something you would see in iBooks. As long as we are on the subject of reading, the Newsstand app is dedicated to magazines and newspaper, like iBooks. Log on to App Store to purchase newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Newsstand will alert you when there are new issues.
Twitter integration allows you to tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube or Maps. The integration pulls up a textbox so you can add text or do @replies to your friends. You can add locations to tweets too.
Siri has a sense of humour
There is plenty of talk about Siri already, the intelligent assistant on the iPhone 4S. It is certainly a novel design, combining text-to-speech with logic processing and voice recognition software, allowing the Siri interface to understand requests and perform simple conversations. You can ask Siri to play a certain song, call a friend, wake you at a certain time, search the web, and more.
It not only does requests but understands the contexts of your request. If you ask Siri to play a song, then you can immediately tell it to play, pause, shuffle and more, which it will do without you reiterating the sentence again. Siri is able to understand personal requests such as ‘call my mother’ or ‘text my wife’ once you assign a contact to a specific designation.
Unfortunately, Siri is unable to support locations out of the US that means we can’t ask it for directions and local services here in Malaysia. Plus, it is exclusive to the iPhone 4S and you will need a data connection for it to work.
Siri pushes voice recognition to another level, and while there are some kinks to iron out, like the software mangling up some of our words, we felt that it was more than just a gimmick and could actually help us speed up day-to-day routines on our smartphone.
iCloud is an extension to Apple’s MobileMe and you can back up your email, contacts and calendar along with entire contents of your iPhone. You get 5GB storage for free, and iCloud will take your camera roll, accounts, documents and settings back into the cloud. You can retrieve them from your phone, iPod touch or iPad. You can upgrade that storage for an annual fee - USD $20 for 10GB, USD $40 for 20GB, and USD$100 for 50 GB.
Better yet, iCloud doesn’t count your app, music, books, TV content, or Photo Stream in the storage cloud. You can manually back up your content to the Cloud or let it automatically back up when the device is locked and connected to WiFi.
We spoke about its world phone functionality, and Apple has allowed both CDMA and GSM connectivity on 4S, giving you the ability to use the phone for roaming in most parts of the world. Apple is boasting higher data speeds on the iPhone 4S, up to 14.4 Mbps on the downlink, but for the most part, the standard smartphone connectivity which is WiFi, WiFi hotspot functionality and Bluetooth v4.0 is there.
We haven’t suffered noticeable reception loss when performing the ‘death grip’ manoeuvre on the iPhone 4S, and blocking the antennas (Apple threw in two now) will require a very unnatural grip on the phone.
Camera, Video and Audio
Apple upgraded the Apple iPhone 4's 5-megapixel camera to an 8-megapixel camera on the Apple iPhone 4S, and we can tell the improvements immediately. The new camera took some pretty clean and pretty photos. The sensor is able to record 1080p video with the same clarity as still photos.
Apple said they threw in a bunch of upgrades starting from backlight illumination, and an image signal processor that enables face detection and improved white balance. The camera's sensor is much faster this time around and will only take 1.1 seconds to snap the first shot, and half a second for the next.
There are photo editing functions in iOS5 – Crop, Rotate, Enhance and Remove Red-eye are all in the Photos App. Being terrible photographers we loved the enhance function, one tap and your photo will immediately be spruced up. Removing red-eye will require a little patience as you need to tap each individual eye of everyone in the picture.
On iOS 5, you can launch the camera app right from the Lock screen, which appears after you double-click the home button. And the volume up button works as the shutter button now, however you will still need to tap to autofocus. Use pinch to zoom gesture to zoom in and out, and the camera has grid lines to help you line up a shot.
Photos are supported by iCloud allowing you beam photos straight to the cloud and then stream it to other iOS devices.
If you are a fan of all things Apple, own an older iPhone or a new user jumping on the bandwagon from a different platform, this phone comes as an easy choice. There is the Retina display packed inside a design that is still sleek, and a slew of hardware and software upgrades.
But if you are an iPhone 4 owner, the gap or lack thereof between the iPhone 4 and the 4S may deter you from upgrading. Sure there is more processing power, a better camera and Siri on the 4S. However, the same design along with the similar price point to the iPhone 4 may put the brakes on getting said upgrade.
For the most part however, if you do decide to make the jump, there are still many worthwhile features here, and we are betting you will be the talk of the town for a while, at least until Apple decides to launch its next smartphone.
Conclusion: Will win over Apple enthusiasts, upgraders and new users easily. Current iPhone users may want to hold off