Despite Siri, the iPhone 4S isn’t a dramatic game-changer like some previous iPhones. Some new features are catch-ups to competitors. I sense Apple chose to focus more on software and cloud service than on hardware. But, in my tests, the iPhone 4S performed very well.
The iPhone 4S now comes with the same, dual-core processor found in the iPad 2. I didn’t notice a dramatic speed gain, but the phone operated rapidly and surely, with smooth scrolling and swiping.
Although the iPhone 4S sports a faster processor and an upgraded camera, the feature that everyone will be talking about is Siri. Siri, which replaces the Voice Control feature introduced with the iPhone 3GS, allows you to speak commands to your phone and have it do your bidding. You even activate Siri the same way as you did Voice Control: by holding down the home button on the iPhone itself, or by holding down the control button on your wired or wireless headset.
What I’ve described actually sounds just like Voice Control, but Voice Control’s speech-recognition engine was severely limited. It required a strict vocabulary and couldn’t do much more than dial your phone or play music. Siri doesn’t require a strict vocabulary—if talk like Yoda even you try, it’ll generally figure out what you’re trying to say. That one leap makes interacting with Siri seem much more natural.
MG Siegler over at TechCrunch had this to say about the iPhone 4S camera:
Much will be made about the upgrade from 5 megapixels to 8 megapixels with the iPhone 4S. But the bigger difference is the engineering behind the new camera. Apple notes with pride that their engineers were able to completely re-architect this tiny camera to produce images that are on par with the nicest point-and-shoots available. They credit five “precision elements” to record incoming light (versus four in the already excellent iPhone 4 camera) and the inclusion of a larger f/2.4 aperture to bring in more light.
Over at This Is My Next, Joshua Topolsky wrote about his experiences with the updated antenna:
During the announcement in Cupertino, Apple made a point to call out the new (or rather, improved) antenna design on the iPhone 4S. The company claims the phone can “intelligently” switch between its two antennas providing better call quality (and presumably fewer dropped calls). In my testing, I did seem to be getting more bars more consistently, though it’s tough to say if it made any big difference in terms of call quality. As far as dropped calls were concerned, I certainly didn’t notice any pronounced issues while testing the phone in New York. I did have a few dropped calls, but I also have dropped calls on my Nexus S — so I’m a little more apt to blame the network than the device.
Android phones seem to come out every Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. Apple updates iOS and the iPhone only once a year. So Apple had a lot of catching up to do, even some leapfrogging. 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.”
To sum it all up, it seems that Siri is the biggest update to come with the announcement of the iPhone 4S and rightfully so! Siri is incredible and really displays why Apple is on the cutting edge with the products they deliver. I’m speechless after seeing how well Siri worked with different voice types and what tasks it was able to perform. I’m even tempted to make the switch after watching recent videos of Siri in use! And that’s coming from an "Android fanboy."
With that, though, the new iPhone 4S is a solid phone and only being a subtle upgrade from the iPhone 4, it is a major improvement over the 3G or 3GS. Either way, no matter what you are upgrading from you surely will not be disappointed. It seems that Apple has really taken advantage of that dual-core processor with the new iOS 5 and I am looking forward to getting my hands on the new device.
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