The first major iPhone 4S reviews are starting to come in, and they all seem to agree on one thing: The iPhone 4S is pretty impressive! We’ve rounded up several of the most notable reviews (click the links to read the full review).
Once again Apple is taking a lead and asking a lot of its competitors. I wish those competitors luck, for the better all smartphones are, the happier I am. If Steve Jobs’s true legacy is that the devices every other company makes are so, so much better than they otherwise would have been, I don’t think he would mind one bit.
Spending a week with Apple’s newest phone, I’m reminded again of just what makes the company’s products so special. It’s not specs, services, or apps. This phone is not perfect. Certainly it can be improved. But there is something here, beyond the screen and CPU, beyond iCloud, something under the surface. Some intangible spark.
Is this the best phone ever made? That’s debatable. But I can tell you this: the iPhone 4S is pretty damn cool.
The iPhone 4 was my favorite product that Apple has ever made. The iPhone 4S has all the best features of the iPhone 4 — same look, same feel, same Retina Display — and adds several significant improvements. The one and only disappointment I have with the iPhone 4S is that the shutdown spinner animation is still low-res. That’s pretty low on the list of nits to pick.
You can look at each of the items that Apple will release in conjunction with the iPhone and be amazed with how innovative all of them are.
When you put them all together in one product like the iPhone 4S, you have an incredibly successful product that other companies just can’t compete with.
I’m happy that Apple decided not to change the form factor even though they had to know there would be some backlash from a certain segment of the population (read: idiots). Instead, Apple focused on the other thing they do best: refining already great products to make them better. The iPhone 4 was a great product. The best smartphone ever made. Now it cedes that title to the iPhone 4S.
In the end, the iPhone 4S follows Apple’s recent trajectory of iPhone releases: It’s an object of some appeal to people who last upgraded their phones a year ago, and over the next year a great many of them will find it worthwhile to upgrade to the iPhone 4S. But to all those people who’ve been hanging on to their iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, the wait is over: It’s time to upgrade without any hesitation whatsoever. The iPhone 4S has speed, a great camera, some cool voice-recognition features, and the same beautiful industrial design that was introduced in the iPhone 4. It’s destined to be immensely popular. The S, in this case, seems to stand for “sure thing.”
There are some rough spots here and there; for example, every now and then the 4S’s camera app gets stuck on its startup screen. And while the battery still gets you through one full day, standby time is shorter than before (200 hours versus 300). But over all, Apple has done an excellent job.
The question isn’t what’s in a name — it’s what’s in a phone. And the answer is: “A lot of amazing technology. And some of it feels like magic.”
The iPhone 4S is one of Apple’s less dramatic updates, but, when combined with the Siri, iOS 5 and iCloud features, it presents an attractive new offering to smartphone users. Some may be content to skip the new hardware and just enjoy the software and cloud features with older models. But those buying the phone will likely be happy with it.
There will undoubtedly be smartphones with faster processors, or more megapixels to their cameras, or high-speed 4G connectivity, or bigger, better resolution displays, but it’s difficult to imagine any of them competing with the joined-up ecosystem Apple now offers. Challenging the iPhone isn’t just about creating one single, better smartphone, but a portfolio of consistent products and services. The iPhone 4S may look the same as before, but it arguably represents just as much of a shift in the industry as the original iPhone ever did.
Apple concedes that Siri isn’t a finished product; she is in beta. But even with her blemishes, Siri is pretty darn cool. And she helps make the iPhone 4S pretty darn cool, too.
With the iPhone’s continuing advantage in number of apps (500,000 and counting), its arrival on the Sprint network and its ability to function as a world phone, the 4S doesn’t leave many holes for the competition to plug.
And then there’s this: The 4S is the first phone you’ll ever be tempted to ask for the secret of life. Go ahead — you’ll get an answer, too. It isn’t from “Star Trek,” though science-fiction readers will recognize, and get a chuckle from, the response.