updated 08:15 am EDT, Fri October 14, 2011
iPhone 4S is here and it shines
The iPhone 4S has landed in stores and Electronista has its hands on a white 64GB model. As most readers will be aware of by now, the phone looks almost identical to the iPhone 4. However, the internals have largely been given a once over with major upgrades in processing power and graphics performance. Our first impressions are that the changes really shine and are good enough that even iPhone 4 owners may want to seriously consider an upgrade.
We had an iPhone 4 box handy to highlight some of the subtle differences in the packaging of the iPhone 4 and 4S. As can be seen in the photos below, the original iPhone 4 box for the white model showed the phone against a black background. This has now changed to show the iPhone 4S against a white background. Where on the front bottom of the box was a silver Apple logo, this has been replaced with a silver iCloud icon. The side of the box simply adds and 'S' in a silver box next to iPhone 4.
Although the iPhone 4S weighs slightly heavier than the iPhone 4, according to Apple's specifications, the difference is not noticeable in the hand. The remarkable build quality and finish of the iPhone 4 remains intact. When the iPhone 4 launched, the late Steve Jobs called it '...the most precise device we have ever made.' Nothing has changed on this front.
iPhone 4 users might be wondering about whether the speed of the A5 dual-core processor is noticeable over the iPhone 4, which is no slouch. The answer to that question is a resounding 'Yes.' The A5 processor really blazes through a whole range of tasks. The iPhone 4 can be prone to a little lag at times, which can be noticeable when swiping to Spotlight search, or when transitioning between other functions. This is all but eliminated in the iPhone 4S. Visual transitions between functions are lightning fast.
Web browsing with the uprated HSPA 3G radio in the iPhone 4S is also noticeably snappier. The combined faster download speeds with the additional processing core combine to load web sites much more quickly when on the go. Surfing the web over 3G now feels akin to surfing the web when on a Wi-Fi network.
However, without going into all of the details of the much improved iOS 5 operating system (see our iOS 5 preview for more details) we can confidently say that the new killer app is Siri. Although it was anticipated that Apple would integrate Siri into iOS 5 and take its functionality deeper into the OS, it was not included in the beta release of the iOS 5. Apple was reserving Siri as the Ace up its sleeve.
Even if Apple had released an all-new design to go with the new internals, we are confident that the buzz would still center on Siri. Siri is the by far the best voice recognition software on a mobile phone. It is incredibly accurate and all without the voice training that can be the bane of desktop voice recognition software.
Asking Siri for directions, what the weather will be like, to create and send e-mails and text messages is incredibly simple and fun to use. The days of fumbling around with a phone to get things done in a hurry are pretty much over. Yet, Apple is calling Siri a beta, which really does make a mockery of other voice recognition systems that have been on the market in final form for some time.
Siri can even pronounce this writer's non-Anglo name properly. When I told her that 'I love voice recognition,' she responded encouragingly with 'Good for you, Sanjiv.' We think it is love, but she plays hard to get.
I told her that, "I think I love you Siri."
Siri responded with, "You hardly know me, Sanjiv."
We'll keep trying our luck.