Early iPhone 4S Reviews

BY Jason

Published 12 Oct 2011

iPhone 4S

With just over two days to go for the official launch day, Apple has lifted the embargo on iPhone 4S reviews and we’ve started seeing some of the well known tech writers and critics publishing reviews of Apple’s new iPhone 4S.

Here are some of the highlights from each review:

Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD:

  • While Apple’s latest iPhone doesn’t look different, and may not be the kind of blockbuster people expect from the late Steve Jobs’s company, it thinks different, to quote one of Apple’s old ad slogans.
  • The standout feature, not available in other iPhones, or in any other phone I’ve seen, is Siri.
  • 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.
  • Other phones boast 8-megapixel cameras, but the 4S takes the best pictures and high-definition videos I have seen on a phone.
  • My AT&T model dropped too many calls, just as earlier AT&T iPhones do. My colleague’s Verizon iPhone 4S dropped none.
  • While I didn’t run a formal battery test, the phone lasted all day, every day, even when I was doing heavy testing and, thus, using it more than I typically would.
  • The iPhone 4S is one of Apple’s less dramatic updates, but, when combined with the Siri, iOS 5 and iCloud features, it presents an attractive new offering to smartphone users.
  • New iPhone Conceals Sheer Magic
  • More speed is always better, of course. But it’s not like people were complaining about the previous iPhone’s speed.
  • A much better, faster camera — among the best on a phone.
  • Speech recognition. Crazy good, transformative, category-redefining speech recognition.
  • It’s mind-blowing how inexact your utterances can be. Siri understands everything from, “What’s the weather going to be like in Tucson this weekend?” to “Will I need an umbrella tonight?” (She has various amusing responses for “What is the meaning of life?”)
  • It’s even more amazing how Siri’s responses can actually form a conversation. Once, I tried saying, “Make an appointment with Patrick for Thursday at 3.” Siri responded, “Note that you already have an all-day appointment about ‘Boston Trip’ for this Thursday. Shall I schedule this anyway?” Unbelievable.
  • 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.”

MG Siegler of TechCrunch:

  • This is the best iPhone yet.
  • the iPhone 4S blows away the iPhone 4 when it comes to speed.
  • This new camera in the iPhone 4S goes above and beyond. If the point-and-shoot market wasn’t in trouble before, it will be now.
  • the true killer feature of the device is Siri.
  • The amount of times Siri hasn’t been able to understand and execute my request is astonishingly low. I’ll say something that I’m sure Siri won’t be able to understand, and it gets it.
  • The one downside of Siri: because it uses server-side software to decipher what you’re saying (likely using Nuance-licensed technology), you have to be connected to the Internet in order for Siri to work. But that shouldn’t be an issue in most circumstances.
  • The iPhone 4 was a great product. The best smartphone ever made. Now it cedes that title to the iPhone 4S.
  • Competing phone-makers have had more than a year (a lot more considering the leaked photos of the iPhone 4 prior to its release) to best this design, and yet no one really has. As frustrating as it is to say this, no other phone on the market comes close to this level of craftsmanship, materials, or considered design.
  • The rear camera has been massively improved — and that’s saying a lot considering the original iPhone 4 sensor and lens were a pretty lethal combo.
  • The iPhone 4S has a noticeably different color tone, and blacks seem far less dark. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; when comparing Dead Space (a pretty dark game) side-by-side, I found the iPhone 4S display more eye-pleasing.
  • 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.
  • The 4S is more than capable of going through a full business day without needing a charge, and if you’re a lighter user, you’ll rarely have to worry about it.
  • As far as processor performance is concerned, the iPhone 4S isn’t kidding around… though don’t expect mind-blowing speed differences between this device and its predecessor.
  • The crazy thing about Siri is that it works — at least most of the time — better than you’d expect it to.
  • I expected Siri to be smarter than it is right now, because… well, it’s already pretty damn smart.
  • With Siri, the iPhone finds its voice
  • The fifth-generation iPhone’s superb camera and speedy dual-core processor are classy additions. But Siri is the reason people should buy this phone.
  • To give you an idea of how convenient Siri is, it takes about three seconds to create a reminder with a voice command, as opposed to the 10 seconds it takes me to manually type an event into a to-do list or calendar entry.
  • It’s kind of like having the unpaid intern of my dreams at my beck and call, organizing my life for me. I think Siri on the iPhone is a life changer, and this is only the beginning.
  • Besides browsing and playing games, the smaller parts that make up the whole iOS experience all feel faster.
  • From my experience, talking on an iPhone 4S on AT&T sounds noticeably clearer than it did on past iPhones I’ve owned.
  • In dead zones where there is spotty AT&T coverage (pretty common here in San Francisco), the reception is still poor. There’s not much a phone can fix about an overloaded network, even with a fancy dual antenna.
  • Siri is the best androgynous unpaid intern you’ll ever meet. Dual-core guts make for faster apps and a smoother interface. Camera is much-improved. Call quality gets a boost.
Now that the early iPhone 4S reviews are in (in case you were waiting for them), let us know what you plan to do. Already pre-ordered? Planning to stand in line to get one on launch day? Pre-ordering one now? Planning to wait for the next generation iPhone?