Apple iPhone 4S review

Apple iPhone 4S review

T3 5
  • Apple iPhone 4S Review: T3's run down of the best Apple iPhone 4S features, specs, some info on the iPhone 4S design and processor and of course, Siri

    Apple iPhone 4S review

    Love

    • Faster processor
    • Siri
    • 64GB storage

    Hate

    • Still expensive
    • No iTunes in the Cloud (yet)

    The T3 Apple iPhone 4S review is finally here! In the 16 months from the launch of the iPhone 4, we've had antennagate - the iPhone 4 had serious reception issues due to a misjudgment in the placing of its antenna - the unveiling of iOS 5, Apple's latest mobile operating system, and three versions of Google Android's Honeycomb OS.  

     

    The world's handset manufacturers have also been playing a fierce game of catch up, releasing a raft of ever-improving

    smartphones with faster processors and more features, all trying to steal a march over Apple and its seemingly unstoppable freight train of success.

    Many T3 readers have told us how they'd forgone the Apple iPhone 4 because of reported signal problems, or were tied into long 3GS contracts. They were itching for something new. Something special. Something worth waiting for.

    So, when Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, took to the stage to announce the long-awaited 'iPhone 5' last week, he needed to pull something big out of the iBag.

    What we got was the iPhone 4S. The most powerful iPhone Apple has ever made, yet criticised by many as nothing but a cosmetic upgrade.

    So how different is it and, crucially, is it worth upgrading? We've been living with the iPhone 4S, iCloud and iOS 5 for a few days. Here's what we think, in a few words...

    Apple iPhone 4S Review: Unboxing

    Out of the box, the iPhone 4S looks identical to its older sibling bar the distinguishing birthmark of a brace of top-mounted incisions

    signifying that a new antenna design lurks within. Switch on the phone, however, and things are different.

    Unless you're restoring the data from an older iTunes backup, the 4S doesn't require a computer for activation. You can restore the phone from an iCloud account, or set up as a new phone. If you don't have an Apple ID, you have the option to create one.

    iCloud can also be activated from the phone for storing and wirelessly pushing photos, apps, contacts, calendars to and from your 4S. The whole process, whether restoring from iTunes or setting up fresh, takes less than five minutes. And because it's the same case design, iPhone 4 users can just swap over their SIM card.
     

    Unfortunately, in-app information isn't transferred, so you'll need to re-enter login details, re-download offline Spotify playlists and re-affirm personalised settings in every app that requires it.  An obvious security measure by Apple, but it was these actions that took the longest to complete.

    The Apple iPhone 4S Review: Hardware changes (processor)

    Many iPhone 4 owners will be asking themselves why they need an iPhone 4S when the free iOS 5 upgrade will equip their current phone with most of the new 200-odd features. We'll get into the meat of those features later, but know this: Apple has built its best phone to date.


    The new A5 dual-core processor (as seen in the iPad 2) makes things noticeably nippier. Apps launch quicker, web pages load faster, multi-tasking is more fluid and resource-hungry apps like Pages now allow you to edit documents without any lag. Competitors will argue that their phones have been able to produce similar results for months, and they'd be right, but it remains a welcome (if a little late) upgrade.

    The processor also supercharges the iPhone 4S's graphical prowess. We tried Real Racing 2 HD and, while the visuals were a little smoother, we didn't notice the 7x improvement as claimed by Apple. This is because games will need to be tuned to take advantage of the new chip. We had a demo of Infinity Blade 2 (confirmed to launch later this year) at the iPhone 4S launch and were blown away by the detail and speed of the polygon pushing. We're talking PSP Vita graphics, if not better.

    Another benefit of having the A5 processor is to mirror 4S content over AirPlay. Wirelessly, the 4S will push out 720p to an Apple TV. Over connected HDMI, that will jump to 1080p. The simplicity of pushing small-screen content to the big screen on the fly is a neat trick, especially when you start rotating and zooming. It's also something to brag to iPhone 4 owners; T3 was told that the older model simply can't cope with the demands of such technological wizardry.


    The potential for playing games on the big screen from your phone is something Sony and Nintendo should keep an eye on, too. Note that, in our demo, the super-charged Infinity Blade 2 was jumpy over wireless. Tiny Wings has never looked better, though.

    Apple iPhone 4S vs Apple iPhone 4 video

     

     

  • Check out T3's Apple iPhone 4S review for our run down of the best Apple iPhone 4S features, specs, some info on the iPhone 4S design and processor, and to find out if Siri really works

    Apple iPhone 4S review

    Love

    • Faster processor
    • Siri
    • 64GB storage

    Hate

    • Still expensive
    • No iTunes in the Cloud (yet)
     

    1. Apple iPhone 4S: Processor

    On the outside, it looks, feels and smells like an iPhone 4. That's because it is. On the inside, however, is where the S magic really happens. The faster A5 processor makes operating the device noticeably quicker when launching and re-launching apps and when using power-draining applications such as iMovie.

     

    2. Apple iPhone 4S: Design

    The plain fact that it looks like an iPhone 4 will be a hammer blow to those who have waited patiently for a freshly designed, potentially cooler-loooking iPhone 5. This tweet from @crossan_phil sums it up: “glad the 5 didn't come out. Gives me more time to use my 24mth contract with the 4!!”

     

    3. The iPhone 4S: Gaming

    The improved graphics are amazing. While the version we used didn't have Infinity Blade 2 installed, we tried Real Racing 2 which, to us, looked smoother than our iPhone 4 version. The keynote demo of Infinity Blade 2 was mind-blowing considering it was running on a bloomin' phone. It wowed the room. A room full of cynical hacks. PSP Vita, eat your heart out

     

    4. The iPhone 4S: 8-megapixel camera

    The 8-megapixel camera shoots great photos (and macro shots). Although we were inside the Covent Garden Apple store with strip lighting a reflections-a-go-go, the resulting shots were nice and sharp, employing some of that new camera tech built into the iPhone 4S. However, the real star of the vision upgrade is...

     

    5. Apple iPhone 4S: 1080p video camera

    The difference in quality is instantly noticeable. We were very impressed. Will it nail the coffin shut on the dwindling camcorder industry? It's a great upgrade regardless of whether you really need it. Well, cinema pirates might.

     

    6. Apple iPhone 4S: iOS 5

    You all know what it's like, the 200+ features it brings plus the iCloud. However, getting hands on with Notifications, Newsstand, iMessage and Reminders demonstrated to us just how much of a step up from iOS 4 it is.

     

    7. Apple iPhone 4S: Price

    Apple has announced entry level UK pricing of £499. We think this is for the 16Gb version, which could put the brand new 64Gb model at a whopping £699 (going by the US pricing structure). We need to confirm that though. Orange and T-Mobile have confirmed that they will be selling the iPhone 4S come October 14, presumably on a two-year contract.

     

    8. Apple iPhone 4S: Speech

    Siri is the most interesting feature of the 4S. We asked it the weather in London, and then San Francisco. We gave it a multiplication query. We asked who the prime minister of the UK was. We asked it the meaning of life ('to answer questions like these' was the retort). It answered them all.
     

    Some of the replies were even funny. From a damn robot. It also got a few things wrong and we think that, in a real-world environment surrounded by lots of noise, it may struggle. Especially as it's still in beta. We're looking forward to testing it further (watch this space). Our long-suffering partners, however, aren't.

     

    9. Apple iPhone 4S: Antenna

    It's the big question for many thinking of upgrading – will it still fall foul of the reported drop call/signal issue? Apple claims that switching between the dual antennas will improve call quality and reduce dropouts. We didn't have enough time to try this out, but are looking to putting that and the 2x download speed claim to the test as soon as we possibly can.

     

    10. Apple iPhone 4S: Alternatives

    Many smartphones already sport a lot of these features already. And for those who were hoping for a brand-new iPhone 5 today might just now consider a top-drawer Android. They'll be cheaper, too.

     

     

    In your ultimate guide to all things Apple iPhone 4S related, we've got an Apple iPhone 4S review, a look inside to see what's packed in with your new iPhone in our iPhone 4S unboxing, a video rundown of the best iOS 5 features and 10 Things to do first with your iPhone 4S. But that's not all, we have also pulled together an iPhone 4S versus iPhone 4 video plus we see how the new Apple smartphone shapes against T3's Phone of the Year as we pit the iPhone 4S against the Samsung Galaxy S2.

     

    • iPhone 4S Siri Demo video
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ap/xs_Apple_iPhone_4S_boxed_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ap/xs_Apple_iPhone_4S_box_iCloud_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ip/xs_iPhone4S2_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ap/xs_Apple_iPhone_4S_overlay_sid-1.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ip/xs_iPhone4S_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ap/xs_Apple_iPhone_4S_Twitter_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/ap/xs_Apple_iPhone_4S_setup_624.jpg
    • Video
      iPhone 4S VS Galaxy Nexus video

      Can Ice Cream Sandwich take on iOS or will the iPhone remain supreme? We find out in our smartphone scuff

      02:46
    • Video
      iPhone 4S Siri Demo video

      We asked what you'd say to Siri and put your questions to the iPhone 4S Voice Assistant. But can it tell us the meaning of life?

      02:05
    • Video
      iPhone 4S launch video

      We talk to the mad men queuing-up for the next Apple smartphone

      01:34
    • Video
      AMD Military iPhone Case Test

      How tough is the toughest iPhone 4 case? We put the Griffin Survivor case through it's paces at an AMD military training day.

      02:48
    • Video
      iPhone 4S: 10 things to do first

      Tips and tricks to get the most from the new iPhone 4S

      02:12
    • Video
      iPhone 4S unboxing

      We find out what's inside the box with Apple's new smartphone

      02:21
    • Video
      iPhone 4S VS iPhone 4

      Is the new iPhone 4S worth the upgrade? Here's a head-to-head

      03:13
    • Video
      iPhone 4S video

      First look at the most hotly-anticipated phone of 2011

      01:36
    • Video
      Nissan Juke iPhone case video

      We test the world's first self-healing, scratch-resistant iPhone case from Nissan

      01:11
    • Video
      iPhone 4S VS cameraphone rivals video

      We round-up the best quirky cameras on the market from the roof-top of the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London

      02:15
    • Video
      Best Christmas shopping apps video

      We round-up the best festive apps

      01:26
    • Video
      Best smartphones 2011 video

      Five of the best smartphones from the past twelve months, from Android to iPhone

      01:36
    • Video
      Bubblescope iPhone accessory

      Find out how to take 360-degree pics on your iPhone

      01:14
    • Video
      How to make a micro SIM

      How to make a micro SIM

      00:49
    • Video
      Mobile & Tablet Destruction: Tough tech tested video

      We find out how much pain our indestructible cases can take.

      03:08
  • Apple iPhone 4S

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