(For the record I purchased a White 64GB AT&T-locked iPhone 4S.)
For starters the phone is much faster than the iPhone 4. We knew this though, so that’s not saying much. Practically speaking though the 4S renders most app splash screens to only showing for a brief moment. Apps just open considerably faster and while you may think that is “nice, but not worth the price of admission” well you are wrong — it’s actually really nice.
The entire interface feels more fluid and that’s saying a lot given how nicely the iPhone 4 performed. I notice the speed difference the most in two areas: loading complex websites and while multi-tasking between apps. The latter of which (if you do it often) makes this a smart upgrade.
I Can Hear You Now
At my office, with my iPhone 4 sitting flat on the desk 12 inches from my keyboard, it used to get me 0-2 bars on AT&T’s network.1 The 4S, though, gets much better reception to the order of 3 solid bars in the same location.
More importantly than the static signal, is the signal that I get when I hold my phone. It wasn’t uncommon with all versions of the iPhone prior to the 4S that I would drop a call while talking because I covered the antenna a bit too much (the 3G was the worst). I haven’t dropped a single call with the 4S since I got it, and that’s down from about 1 a day.
There’s another huge difference though: the speaker for the ringer and speaker phone is much louder. I never had an issue with the ringer volume, but the speaker phone always sounded too quiet for me. While the speaker phone is still not as loud as I would like2 it is a vast improvement over where it was on the iPhone 4. It actually feels like a speaker phone now — maybe that’s not a good thing.
I can’t quite explain how the vibrating alerts are different on the iPhone 4S — but they are. Here’s what I have noticed:
- The vibration seems smoother and not as violent. Thus my phone doesn’t seem to rattle much and wiggle around when it vibrates while sitting flat on my desk.
- The quality seems better. Meaning I can feel the vibrating alert much better when the phone is in my pocket. Again, no clue why that is, as it doesn’t feel like a stronger, more forceful, vibration.
My best guess is that Apple spent sometime engineering the vibration in the iPhone, the same way they engineered the “breathing” of the LED sleep indicators. We already know that the motor is different for the iPhone 4S and I would guess that Apple had a hand in designing how that motor works.
I can’t tell if this is because the phone is brand new or not, but the metal band feels gripper and the glass feels smoother to me. Perhaps the olephobic coating on the glass is just fresh and thus feels smoother and the metal hasn’t had a chance to wear down yet, but I really don’t think that is the case. It feels different.
The feeling isn’t worse or better, it’s just different.
I went with the white model, even though I think the white iPads are the lesser of the two colors. I always wanted the white iPhone 4, but since they weren’t out on day one I couldn’t get one.
I have many reasons why I went with the white model:
- Easier differentiation from my wife’s phone.
- To make the phone look “new” and “different”.
- To be different.
- The iPod was white.
At the end of the day though, I just wanted white.
I am glad I went with the white model because I actually like it quite a bit more than I do the black. Here’s a few reasons why:
- Easy to find in the dark.
- Doesn’t show finger smudges as much.
- Looks more iPod-like.
The white model is quality looking and well made — even the dock connector port has white innards as opposed to black and impressive bit of “attention to detail” from Apple. There are only two things I don’t like about the white model:
- Visibility of the forward facing camera.
- Visibility of the light sensor.
Seeing those two black blotches on the front of the phone ruins the lines of the device a bit. Overall though I really like the white model.
I was pumped to try out the camera in the 4S and am happy to report that it is just as good as I hoped. It’s fast, sharp, and has low noise — what more can you ask for from a phone?
If the iPhone 4 camera was good enough that you could leave your point and shoot at home. Then the iPhone 4S camera is good enough that you should leave your point and shoot at home.
One thing that I always preferred a dedicated camera for was for fast snap shots. Most cameras you can turn on and snap a photo without looking, if you need to, and that was never the case with the iPhone 4. Now, with the speed of the 4S, and the volume-shutter-button on iOS 5 the speed difference between a dedicated camera and the 4S is very close. Close enough that it doesn’t matter any more.
The iPhone 4S is truly a great point and shoot camera that does full 1080p video. Win.