Apple iPhone 4S Review

Is the iPhone 4S the super phone we have all been waiting for?  At first glance, the iPhone 4S looks like the iPhone 4; no matter how you see it. This, however, doesn’t mean that Apple hasn’t changed anything. There are some minor design changes in the construction, namely the distribution of the antenna along the silver border on both sides. This is in response to the signal issues (read: death grip) of the iPhone 4. Other than that, there’s no visible difference between the two. Disappointed? Don’t be. If you don’t own an iPhone, you’ll find this device to be phenomenal. It’s faster, has twice the capacity, has a great camera and much more.

S for solid

When it comes to user interface, there’s no apparent change to the Ul either. Any iPhone user can get his or her fingers flicking through the Ul in no time. As for new users, I should tell you that using the iPhone is one of the easiest things you will ever do in life. Even a complete novice can get used to it within minutes. The new i OS (i0S 5) comes packed with loads of improvements and several new features, which are well integrated with the phone’s hardware.

Earlier models of the iPhone had often been criticized for their poor notification management. Apps had badges that indicated updates and clogged the home screen. Also, incoming messages disrupted running apps, which was especially inconvenient when playing games. To deal with this, the iPhone 4S boasts the new Notification Center, which you simply swipe down from the top of the screen [ala Android]. To go to the corresponding app, just tap on that particular notification. Additionally, notifications appear on the lock screen as well. By using the ‘Swipe to unlock’ gesture, you not only unlock the device, but also attend to the notification. When you’re running a full-screen app, any new notification is simply displayed as a discreet banner at the top, that too for a while. You may choose to view it by touching the banner — now this is notification management done right! Android users, please don’t go into overdrive. I know this is possibly an Android-inspired feature! With all the new features in place, one might think using the iPhone 4S would be a slow and tiresome experience, but this isn’t true — thanks to the A5 processor, which makes it really fast. Launching an app, multitasking, gaming, watching videos, internet browsing, in short everything is noticeably faster and smoother as compared to the iPhone 4. The overall gaming experience is also much better this time around. Not surprisingly, it seems like iOS 5 manages to take advantage of the extraordinary hardware.

Some other OS changes include the rechristening of the iPod feature as “Music”, the addition of iMessage (an i0S­to-i0S messaging app), iCloud (Apple’s take on cloud storage), as well as other dedicated apps. Personally, I thought one of the best features is the “wireless syncing”, which allows your iPhone to sync over Wi-Fl. Furthermore, there’s no need to attach a new iPhone to iTunes for activation. Updates to iOS 5 are downloaded directly to the iPhone (via Wi­Fi or 3G). Consequently, they are referred to as Over-The-Air (OTA) updates.

Note: iOS 5 is available for iPod Touch and iPad as well.

S for a superior f-stop

The iPhone 4S comes with an 8MP camera, which is modified to work in low-light conditions. This is, of course, because it has an f-stop of 2.4. If you’re a digital photography enthusiast, you know what that means; and please, stop drooling! For those who don’t know, this also means that the camera on the iPhone 4S gives you shallow depth-of-field (focus on subject, background blurry). With iOS 5, the camera app is further improved, so now you can take a photo using the `+’  (volume up) button. It almost feels like you’re taking a photo using the shutter button on a real camera. As for the video, it shoots a 1080p video at a frame- rate of 30 frames per second. The stabilization feature on the camera helps, so any shake or vibration is significantly reduced in the shot.

S for Siri

This is arguably one of the most talked- about features of the iPhone 4S. It’s called “Sin”, and it’s really smart. Basically, it’s an assistant that performs tasks on your iPhone based on your  commands. Whether it is sending a message, setting an alarm or even looking up a question, Siri can help. Long pressing the home button springs Sin i into action. Speak into the microphone (at a comfortable distance), and it will listen, understand, and perform the task wisely. For instance, if you ask, “Do I need a raincoat today?”, it understands what you need to know, and provides you with the weather forecast for the day! In a nutshell, Siri is artificial intelligence in your pocket. You can even use it to find things that you would normally look up on the Web. I was still mourning Steve Jobs’ death when I tested it out, so I unimpressively asked it to, “Tell me something about Steve Jobs,” and it displayed all the information it could get. Integrated with the new “Reminders” app, you won’t miss a meeting again! Since Siri requires internet access at times, some of its functions depend on the internet speed. Nevertheless, it is entertaining, productive and often eerie to watch it in action. Unfortunately, Siri is available exclusively on the iPhone 4S. Maybe that’s what the S in the 4S is for?

S for sold?

When all is said and done, you need to see value for money. And considering the features and  functionality of the iPhone 4S, and the original price of the iPhone 4, the price tag seems understandable. So, if you’re not already an iPhone user, and can afford it, I say you go for it. But, if you’re already using the iPhone 4, go with your gut. If you decide against the purchase, I suggest you at least upgrade your phone to iOS 5, and wait till the iPhone 5 comes something special, and myself for what Apple has in store for number 5.

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