Apple iPhone 4S review round up

Reviews Richard Goodwin 15:18, 5 Oct 2011

We take a look at some of the initial ‘reviews’ of Apple’s iPhone 4S following the handset’s official unveiling, which took place last night live from Apple HQ in Cupertino

Following months and months and months of speculation, it’s all over and done with for at least another six months. Apple has ushered in a new iPhone handset in the form of the iOS 5-powered iPhone 4S, which, bar some new specs and features, is identical to 2010’s iPhone 4.

This obviously came as quite a shock to some as many people, including us, were expecting an updated design featuring a larger display, curved back-panel and thinner chassis. We’ve seen countless leaks, videos and information alluding to such design modifications throughout the year, but we guess that’s been held back for the iPhone 5, which we guess will surface sometime in Q2 of 2012.

So what we have with Apple’s iPhone 4S is, essentially, a rebooted version of its existing iPhone 4 handset, just with a few nifty additions included (dual-core processing and GPU, expanded storage, iOS 5 and, of course, Siri).

But what does the wider press make of Apple’s iPhone 4S? We take a look at some initial impressions from some of our favourite tech-sites on the web to found out.

It’s not the iPhone 5
As we said earlier, the iPhone 4S definitely isn’t the iPhone 5. It doesn’t have a larger display, modified design nor is it anyway near as exciting as many were expecting it to be. But in the grand scheme of things, is this such a bad thing?

Tech-Radar gets straight down to brass taxes, saying ‘we're not going to dwell on the design of the device,’ and moves straight onto the software side of things, specifically Siri (or Apple Assistant), which is probably the best approach as there’s nothing physically new or appealing about the iPhone 4S.

ZD Net concedes that the lack of iPhone 5 last night ‘was underwhelming and disappointing’ – something that was only compounded by the fact that the iPhone 4S is identical to the iPhone 4.
However, there's more than meets the eye with the iPhone 4S, claims ZD Net, as Apple has ‘made a number of changes under the hood to improve on performance, including a faster processor, a more advanced camera and a new antenna design.’

‘There’s nothing really notable, physically, about the iPhone 4S in comparison to the iPhone 4,’ says This is My Next. ‘Do you have an iPhone 4? Pick it up. Look at it. Turn it over. There, you’ve just done an iPhone 4S hands-on. Congratulations!’

Apple’s big idea with the iPhone 4S was to stick with the iPhone 4’s ‘classic’ design and bump up the internals to 2011 standards. In most respects we’d say the company has succeeded. The iPhone 4S, for instance, features a brand new antenna system, a dual core processor, advanced GPU unit and, of course, that 8-megapixel camera.

But what is the performance like on the iPhone 4S compared to its predecessor?

‘During our brief demonstration of the iPhone 4S,’ says ZD Net, ‘the handset did operate smoothly and speedily. We weren't able to test it against the iPhone 4 in a side-by-side comparison to notice exactly how much of a boost the new A5 chip offers, but a change for the better is definitely there.’

According to Tech-Radar, ‘loading apps is definitely snappier, and there was no discernable lag in the games we played, but we might well have to wait until some more demanding titles arrive in the App Store before we can truly gauge what we expect to be a significant impact.’

‘The A5 CPU is clearly carrying its weight here,’ states This is My Next, ‘as there was little hesitation, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this model packs double the RAM of the previous phone.’ If this is indeed the case, you can expect some seriously good benchmarking performances once Apple’s iPhone 4S hits general testing.

Another big draw for the iPhone 4S is its updated 8-megapixel camera and ability to shoot 1080p video at 30fps. Apple has never been known for its imaging quality on its mobile devices, but the inclusion of a 8-megapixel camera, complete with CMOS sensor, noise reduction and image stabilisation, is quite a big deal, providing imaging is important to you, of course.

Obviously due to the small amount of time spent with the handsets, no body can yet detail exactly just how much of an improvement the iPhone 4S’s imagining is over its predecessor. ‘One other note is that the camera really does stand out here,’ claims TIMN. ‘I only had a very brief encounter with the camera, but it does feel as snappy as Apple claims it does.’

‘We tried a few indoor shots with the camera and definitely noticed a change from the iPhone 4. In addition to the sharper details,’ says ZD Net, ‘most colours were brighter.’ The report concluded: ‘we'll have to save our final opinion until we can gauge the camera under several conditions (a sunny day, with a flash, and so on), but we like what we’ve seen so far.’

‘The camera is certainly an improvement; backed up by a very good processor and a decent sensor, along with some interesting software options,’ says Tech-Radar, ‘the snapper on the iPhone 4S will convince some that the time is ripe to only buy a DSLR for holidays and rely on their smartphone for everyday photo tasks.’

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