Published November 4, 2011
It's been 15 months since Apple released the iPhone 4. This has left many iPhone, and would-be iPhone customers, anxious for what the company planned to bring next. As we learned recently, the iPhone 4S it is: same body, same screen, same construction, same look as the iPhone 4. To say that some people were disappointed with the 4S announcement would be an understatement.
However, to be fair, beyond the identical exterior lies the hard work that Apple put forth on the inside. An upgraded processor, an improved antenna, and an all-new camera into 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 the voice-controlled personal assistant called Siri. iOS 5 offers over 200 new features to Apple's smartphone platform, most of which are also available to current owners of previous-gen devices.
With the rapid pace at which smartphones are developing, many have called the iterative improvements with the iPhone 4S a mistake, as it seems like every other minute a new Android device is out with better, bigger, faster everything. Despite that, the iPhone 4S gently improves on the popular iPhone 4, and it betters what was already one of the best experiences 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 vaunted iPhone 4.
|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 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 on Sprint)||November?|
|TS Metascore||88||80||91 | 86||82||88||80||89||N/A|
|Processor||1GHz Apple A5||1GHz TI OMAP 4430||1.2GHz Samsung Exynos GT-I9100||1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260||1GHz Nvidia Tegra 250||1GHz Nvidia Tegra 250||1GHz Apple A4||1.2GHz TI OMAP4460|
|Display||3.5" (640x960)||4.3" (960x540)||4.27" (800x480)||4.3" (540x960)||4.0" (480x800)||4.3" (960x540)||3.5" (640x960)||4.65" (1280x720)|
|Internal Storage||16GB-64GB||16GB||16GB||4GB (1GB accessible)||8GB||16GB||8GB||32GB|
|External Storage||No||32GB microSD||32GB microSD||32GB microSD||32GB microSD||32GB microSD||No||32GB microSD|
|Wireless Connectivity||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||???|
|OS||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 (inches)||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 remains one of the most attractive smartphones to have ever been built. Apple's choice of materials and its manufacturing prowess are unmatched, and puts a group of other wanna-be competitors to shame. The iPhone 4S is physically identical to the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 and the average person won't be able to tell the difference between the two phones from the outside. I was a big fan of the iPhone 4's design when it came out, and things haven't changed enough in the market for me to think any different today.
The iPhone 4S has the same glass and metal construction as the iPhone 4. You won't find any creaks or loose parts, and the only plastic used on the phone is for the home button below the display. The phone still measures 9.3mm thick and weighs 140g. Its smaller dimensions make it feel very dense and solid 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 often, as it has a tendency to shatter, despite it being reinforced.
The smoothness of the glass gives you the feeling that you are holding a premium device when you pick it up. Apple has covered both the front and back glass panels with an oleophobic coating that resists face grease and fingerprints better than any other smartphone I have used.
The buttons along the sides of the phone for power/sleep/unlock, volume-up and volume-down, and the switch for ring/vibrate are all made of metal and are very satisfying to use. Travel and feedback is just right, and you never miss a command because the button didn't respond to your input.
If there is one complaint that can be levied against the hardware design of the iPhone 4S, is that it still features a small (by comparison) 3.5-inch display. It's still nonetheless one of the best LCD screens on the market, with its 640 x 960 pixels of resolution and near paper-like viewing angles.
The iPhone 4S' display is noticeably different than the Super AMOLED Plus screens from Samsung, as it's not nearly as saturated and punchy. However, the colors seem more accurate, and the screen is just a joy to look at. I didn't find the smaller screen size to be a hindrance in use, even though I'm used to carrying around phones with 4.3-inch or even 4.5-inch displays.
Apple expanded the storage options with the iPhone 4S, and you can now choose a 64GB model in addition to the 16GB and 32GB versions that have been available before.
It's fair to say the iPhone 4 design has stood the test of time well, and it looks just as good now as it did nearly a year and a half ago when we first gazed upon it. The same can't be said for other phones.
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