Apple iPhone 4S: What's In It For You vs iPhone 4? - HotHardware

Apple iPhone 4S: What's In It For You vs iPhone 4?

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Different box, same bundle. Included with the iPhone 4S are the exact same items Apple packages with just about every mobile device, which by now should look familiar to any repeat customer. If this is your first time wandering the Apple field, here's what you'll find:

  • Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic
  • Doc Connector to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Documentation

A lint-free cloth would make life a little easier considering the amount of glass on the iPhone 4S, but in it's absence, I've just been rubbing it on my shirt (being careful to avoid the barbeque stains, of course).

The iPhone remains one of the best looking smartphones on the market today. So what if Apple didn't overhaul the exterior, this is a smartphone that's still ahead of the curve in aesthetics. Even if Apple would have outfitted the iPhone 4S with a bigger screen -- and you could certainly argue it should have one -- there would have been inevitable outcries of incompatible accessories and how it was just Apple's ploy to sell more add-ons. In other words, haters gonna hate. And if you are a hater, Apple threw you a bone to chew on. While the overall design is the same, the volume buttons and mute switch have moved a smidgen, which could still render the iPhone 4S incompatible with some cases.

By keeping the design largely unchanged, Apple also leaves itself open to the same criticisms as before, including the Fort Knox approach to locking down its iPhone. If I deem myself intelligent enough to change a battery, shouldn't I be afforded that freedom without having to pick up a special screwdriver to remove the Pentalobe screws and a spunger to pry it all apart, voiding the warranty in the process? The answer to that rhetorical query is "yes."

There's a definite trend in smartphone design to equip new devices with larger screens. Most of these are on the low end of 4 inches, but they're getting bigger and there's at least one (Samsung Galaxy Note) in the works with a 5.3-inch screen -- yes, FIVE POINT THREE FREAKING INCHES. Apple isn't oblivious to this market shift, it's just choosing to ignore it, at least for now. If you're coming from a 4-inch or larger Android or Windows Phone 7 device, the 3.5-inch display on the iPhone 4S can be a shock to the system. Having spent the last several months with the Motorola Droid X2 (pictured above, along with the HTC Droid Incredible 2), the very first thing that struck me about the iPhone 4S was how small it looked in comparison. A moment of panic set in as I wondered if this was something I'd get used to, and then I picked it up, spent a few days with it, and really began to appreciate its portability. Not everyone will feel that way, and if this is going to be your first rodeo with an iPhone, do yourself a solid and play with one before committing to a two-year relationship.

Remember what I said about Apple leaving itself open to the same criticisms? Another gripe is the lack of any expandable storage or non-proprietary ports, save for the 3.5mm audio jack. You're stuck with whatever amount of built-in storage you shelled out for from the get-go, and you'll need to use funky adapters for USB (included) and HDMI connectivity (not included).

While the form is largely unchanged, there's been a few improvements to function. One of these is that the Volume Up button now serves double duty as a shutter button. The camera, which I'll cover in a moment, is simply awesome, and it's made even better by having a dedicated shutter button to help you take steady photos.

Another welcome change is the inclusion of dual-antennas. You're now free to hold your iPhone the wrong way -- you know, by gripping it like you would any other smartphone -- without fear of dropping calls, at least as a result of your hands. If your wireless carrier sucks, the iPhone 4S won't change that.

Baby got back, just look at that sexy glass. Unfortunately, good looks are often dangerous, and this is no exception. You'll admire the glass back right up until you drop your phone on the sidewalk or cover it up with a case. I've dropped my Droid X2 a couple of times, and then picked it back up, slapped the rubber battery cover back on, and went on with my day. No harm, no foul. The iPhone 4S? An AppleCare+ or SquareTrade warranty with accidental damage insurance is almost a necessity if you don't plan to shove this thing in a protective case (and you really should).

Source: iFixIt iPhone 4S Teardown

Courtesy of the tech surgeons over at iFixIt, you can get a good look at the Apple A5 processor in the iPhone 4S. This is the main reason why Apple could justify launching another non-iPhone 5 smartphone. It's the same processor Apple uses in its iPad 2 tablet, only reportedly clocked around 200MHz slower based on benchmark performance (Apple didn't disclose the clockspeed). According to Apple, the A5 chip makes the iPhone 4S twice as fast as the iPhone 4, and it's seven times faster in graphics performance.

Source: Apple

Apple is making much ado about data speeds on the iPhone 4S, and specifically that it supports up to 14.4Mbps downloads, which is twice that of the iPhone 4. Marvelous, right? Not so fast (literally). AT&T is the only U.S. carrier with High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology, and good luck attaining speeds anywhere close to 14.4Mbps. By AT&T's own admission, "HSDPA devices commonly support peak rates of 3.6Mbps or 7.2Mbps, though typical user rates are lower than this." It's not any better over at Verizon and Sprint, both of which are CDMA only and rely on 4G WiMAX (Sprint) and 4G LTE (Verizon) for high-speed data access beyond 3G. But of course the iPhone 4S does not support WiMAX or LTE technologies.

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First, let me say that Siri isn't designed to help you pick up chicks or act as an emergency service, though she will gladly tell you where the nearest Escort establishments are or remind you to pick up bandaids on your way home from work.

Scenarios aside, Siri works with anyone's voice. She's supposed to learn your nuances and she remembers who your family members are, so you can say something like, "Text my wife and tell her, 'I need you to pick up dinner.'" These subtleties make Siri a better assistant for the iPhone's owner, but she'll respond to anyone.

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"R0FL, thanks for the heads up, and the info, lol. But Seriously, when I read about Siri in this review, I was immediately reminded of JARVIS (Iron Man) and what functionality Siri may or will provide in the future as mobile CPU's  keep on getting faster. Thanks for the feedback."

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Honestly, I think it would be worth it but barely so and only because of the "built in virtual aid" otherwise known as Siri and because of the increased performance in the camera and high definition videos but if you weren't going to use these things than ultimately the $100 isn't worth it and would be better used on something else. But all in all I think it would be worth it to most people unless they already have an iPhone 4.

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I got the 4s a few weeks ago. I was upgrading from a dumb-phone so I did pay the extra bucks to get it. Smart? Probably not. Siri is good however. She is pretty helpful. I will take my phone with me on a run and I can answer a call or a text message while running. 


I should probably leave my phone at home when I'm doing something like that.....

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Well... I've never owned an iPhone 4 before therefore the iPhone 4S is looking mighty tempting to me. I still don't find the iPhone 4S praise justified though for existing Apple users though...

Glad to know the demonstrated camera is better then the one on the iPhone 4 (since it was one of the features that I didn't like about the iPhone 4.) and it does HDR. I'm wondering, does it take 4 seperate images with different exposures or is it an effect applied to an image?

Again, great review. Glad to see you going in-depth and breaking down the differences, a bigger screen would of been nice but hey, what are you going to do.

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It takes three rapid fire shots and layers them together. You can see this by moving the camera in HDR mode when you snap a pic, as the layered image shows a different position than the original (middle photo) that it saves along side the HDR photo.

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Your review is flawed, you compared a top of the line apple product to a lower end android product, at least make an attempt to use a higher end Android product such as the Galaxy S2, if you can't obtain one then don't compare them.

Apple has failed to release a product that is able to compete with 90 percent of the Android phones, staying with a small format screen is an instant fail and is most likely done because they can't figure out how to retain their retina resolution on a larger screen. Also it would force all apps to have to be recoded to fit the resolution which is another fail of the IOS platform.

You also did not compare raw cpu power against a top of the line Android product again the S2 running out at 1.5ghz will simply leave the 4s behind. Browsermark is an instant fail for comparing against Android due to the fact that Apple has neglected and shuns an industry standard such as flash so the Iphone simply skips over a benchmark that the Android runs.

Upgraded camera? sorry megapixels prove nothing and you did not include any direct comparison photos between Android phones. 1080P recording? great how many of you hook your phone up to your TV, thats what I thought. Why has it taken Apple this long to embrace the industry standard of Full HD (ie failure to include 1080p on their apple tv gen 2) Why? because they are simply stringing customers along every year with half assed upgrades and making you pay full price all over again.

And yet again your are handcuffed to your itunes if you want to load content onto your phone that your did not obtain from itunes, fail for their proprietary garbage software. Speaking of software, Siri is a major security flaw since you can use it to do almost anyting with the phone locked, so if your phone gets stolen or lost someone can rack up a nice list of long distance charges, care of your wallet.

Secondly, Siri was free and ran just fine on IP4, it was taken away from you and essentially became a 200 dollar app because Apple forced you to buy their new phone to use it. And finally as it has already been found out most of the advanced features will only work in the US, good job Apple.

Im not really sure why your Android feels so sluggish, perhaps you should not load it with every single app you can find, I currently run an HTC Evo 3D and it runs perfectly all the time, 1 GB ram certainly helps... Wonder why apple decided to stay with 512mb, as I used to own an IP4 I was constantly rebooting it due to IOS major memory leak and failure to include a task manager to close background programs chewing up my ram.

As well, the Android OS is actually quite intelligent and will shutdown programs overtime that are not used and are running in memory, in order that the phone will not crash... all by itself I might add.

Just an interesting fact, its quite well known that Motorola has had issues in developing its software for Android phones and no this is not a flaw against Android, its Motorola's choice to make the change. Perhaps you might want to check out more successful builds of Android phones from top manufacturers such as HTC, LG, Samsung and Google themselves.

With the release of ICS for Android it will just further push apple into the background and make IOS 5 look like a mere patch to its already close minded, industry substandard software.

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"Your review is flawed, you compared a top of the line apple product to a lower end android product, at least make an attempt to use a higher end Android product such as the Galaxy S2, if you can't obtain one then don't compare them."

This wasn't a head-to-head showdown where one device is declared the winner and the other a loser, nor was it a roundup of devices. It's a review of the iPhone 4S and what it brings to the smartphone world, what features Apple got right, and which ones it didn't. The benchmarks are there to give an idea of performance, and compared with other devices to give a little perspective. I don't think it's unfair to post Droid X2 numbers considering it's a recently released dual-core Android phone. It's there as a point of reference only. The takeaway should be that the iPhone 4S is fast, not that it's the fastest handheld mobile device in the world, but certainly fast enough to satisfy smartphone shoppers that either prefer iOS over Android and Windows Phone 7, or who are platform agnostic and are interested in the iPhone 4S.

"Upgraded camera? sorry megapixels prove nothing and you did not include any direct comparison photos between Android phones. 1080P recording? great how many of you hook your phone up to your TV, thats what I thought."

Again, this wasn't a head-to-head against Android, which is why I didn't post side-by-side pics. I'd be happy to upload some though, as I took comparison pics with the Motorola Droid X2 and HTC Droid Incredible 2, and the shots were noticeably better on the iPhone 4S, particularly in less than ideal lighting. And you're right, megapixels alone don't make one camera superior to another, which is something I covered in the write-up. As for 1080p recording, I very much like being able to record Full HD for keepsake videos that I don't intend to store on my phone, and I also like the built-in image stabilization. You're right that Apple could have included 1080p support in previous generation devices, and I'm especially miffed that the cameras on the iPad 2 simply suck. This is part of Apple's unofficial planned obsolescence model. But should I ding the iPhone 4S because it supports 1080p? That would be wacky.

"Im not really sure why your Android feels so sluggish, perhaps you should not load it with every single app you can find"

1) It's laggy because Motorola's Blur overlay is heavy. Not all Android devices feel this way, and I mentioned in the review that even HTC's single-core Incredible 2 is much more snappy. But it's totally dependent on the device. 2) If having too many apps was the the reason the Droid X2 felt sluggish, that would be a point in Apple's favor. I have the iPhone 4S pretty well loaded with apps and it doesn't feel any slower than when it was first taken out of the box. 3) Once again, this isn't a head-to-head with Android. My anecdotal experience with the Droid X2 is there for reference, not a determination against Android. The point is, the iPhone 4S is fast, responsive, and lag free. That is going to be true for anyone who purchases an iPhone 4S.

The bottom line is, the iPhone 4S is a great smartphone based on its own merits. There are also some great Android phones out there, some of which we've reviewed.

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Great review Paul Keep up the good work bro!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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So not worth an upgrade if you already own the 4 like me. I'll see what the Nexus Prime brings...

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