Apple iPhone 4S: Believe the hype?

October 18, 2011

As Apple reports quarterly earnings based largely on the number of iPhones it sold, the honeymoon continues for the lucky millions able to get their hands on the newest 4S model, which was initially criticized for not being new enough. Apple went on to sell 4 million of them in 3 days.

So, after the initial sales storm, is Apple’s iPhone 4S living up to the hype?

First, here’s a graphic on how the baby compares to its older sibling:

Corrected: The graphic, above falsely stated that the iPhone 4S had 1GB of memory. As Ben Pingel pointed out, it actually has 512MB.

After getting some time to play with the Apple iPhone 4S, owners and bloggers are weighing in on its key selling features:


Complaints are being logged on Apple’s site about a colored tint affecting some iPhone 4Ss, obvious when compared to the iPhone 4. Others complain about the 4S screen looking washed out.

Is the tint a result of residue left over from manufacturing that disappears with time, Apple using different manufacturers, or something else?

3.5 inches is considered small by today’s smartphone standards. As VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar points out, nowadays “flagship phones from competitors never dare to dip below 4-inch screens.” But Vincent Nguyen at SlashGear argues that a redesign with a bigger screen could have “alienated women, teens and anyone with small hands”.


Powered by the same processor found in Apple’s iPad 2 but running at a slightly slower speed, the iPhone 4S has been benchmarked against competing phones and its predecessor and the results are impressive.

Thanks to Apple’s new mobile operating system iOS 5, Web browsing on the iPhone 4s is nearly twice as fast as on the iPhone 4  and decidedly faster than on its nearest competitor the Samsung Galaxy SII, according to PC Mag.

Graphics performance on the iPhone 4S is more inline with the iPad 2 tablet than anything else and in one instance is double the speed of Samsung’s Galaxy s2, AnandTech benchmarks show.

Many expect Google’s next iteration of its Android mobile operating system, dubbed “Ice Cream Sandwich”, to narrow the performance gap between Android-powered smartphones and the gains made by Apple’s iOS 5.

Battery life:

Josh Topolsky found the battery performance of the iPhone 4S to be “impressive” and on par with the iPhone 4, mindful of losing an hour on the 4S when using Wi-Fi.

But “complaints are flooding in” about poor performance, according to Rick Henderson at Pocket-lint. Henderson quotes one 4S owner in Apple’s user forum who wrote: “My iPhone 4S battery seems terrible! Almost equivalent to my 3GS and its terrible battery life”.


Walt Mossberg calls Siri, the iPhone 4S’s virtual assistant, “a nascent artificial-intelligence system that has to be tried to be believed”.

Devindra Hardawar says “Siri represents the first step towards widespread adoption of consumer artificial intelligence.”

Some 4S users are getting “cannot connect to the network” messages when trying to use Siri. There appears to be workarounds but no word yet on a fix.

A potential privacy issue has also sprung up, with Siri sneaking what nickname users choose to use with the voice service into their contact information, where it could be unknowingly shared when a user sends someone else their details, writesCNET’s Luke Westaway.


A higher-resolution sensor and an improved lens helps make the iPhone 4S a compelling replacement for a point-and-shoot camera, though other smartphone cameras share that distinction.

Techland’s Brooks Kraft lauds the iPhone 4S more accurate color rendering and inconspicuous ease of use.

ZDNet’s Matthew Miller concluded that out out the four cameras he tested: the HTC Amaze 4G, Nokia N9, Apple’s iPhone 4S, and the Nokia N8, the ones on the first three phones “could easily be the winning one with a bit of judgement difference”.


One comment

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I think the iPhone 4S has proven it deserves the hype now! I’m a big fan of the iPhone 4S camera. The accessories you can get for it are amazing too. The Olloclip is genius!

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