Reading the reviews of the iPhone 4S
could lead some to believe that there are two different variants making the rounds: one that is a welcome, feature-laden descendant of the earlier iPhone 4; and another that is an embarrassingly disappointing prologue to the post-Jobs age where Apple’s famed innovation has gone the way of Hummers, zero-down mortgages and breezing through airport security. Regardless of the reviewer’s slant, there seems to be universal agreement that the iPhone 4S is an evolution rather than a revolution. Unlike earlier model introductions where Applephiles would dump their older models in a heartbeat, there are actually some who might be better off holding onto their iPhones rather than engaging in knee-jerk upgrading.
Brilliant 4S Innovations
Cosmetically, the iPhone 4S is a clone of its predecessor, but when you delve into the details you discover that there is barely any aspect of this latest Apple smartphone that has not been extensively revised:
The dual core CPU is considerably faster and more capable than earlier single core iterations
The camera has been boosted to eight megapixels with 1080P full HD and has a variety of automatic features added
The battery provides the same duration as earlier models even though the 4S has considerably greater electricity requirements
AirPlay mirroring is absolutely addictive
The antenna doesn’t require the mastering of Masonic handshake positions to get reception
...and of course there’s Siri, which is the game changing artificial intelligence voice assistant that is the primary reason to get the iPhone 4S - and is the first step towards the conversion of all human-machine interactions to conversational speech.
Old Nags Are Still Present
However, not all is perfect in 4S land:
Flash is still verboten, locking out nearly three quarters of all active web content
The headphones still don’t measure up to the cheap Chinese imports at the local dollar store
Satellite navigation is still an extra cost option
… and most of all: the 4S is widely regarded as a half-measure on the way to what promises to be a far more revolutionary device in the iPhone 5, which is widely rumored to encompass a swath of new technologies ranging from a larger screen and 4G/LTE support to teleportation and phaser fire. However, this marvelous fantasy device may be as far as a full year away from introduction, so what should an iPhoner do now? Upgrade or hang on?
Upgrade Now? Maybe Not
If you’re a dyed in the wool enthusiast with Apple juice running through your veins, you’ve likely already stood in line to be the first one on your block to have a 4S. However, if you’re a bit more rational about how your smartphone fits into your lifestyle it may not be necessary to take the 4S leap right now. Most people don’t use their phones as a substitute for a digital SLR, so the capabilities of the new camera will be lost on them, and you can bet that after a brief novelty fling with Siri most 4S owners will rarely ever use it again. Considering that a 4S is going to set you back a couple hundred dollars plus whatever your carrier is going to tack on, the value of upgrading now may be questionable for some.
Most Mobile Phones Are Used as… Phones
The vast majority of the Earth’s 5.3 billion mobile accounts are on phones that allow users to make voice calls and send texts (remember those nostalgic functions?) and get along just fine without pushing the 4S dual core to the limits while playing Infinity Blade. Even many of the owners of the advanced Apple and Android mobile units fail to take full advantage of their devices’ impressive functionalities in their median everyday use.
If you need Siri and/or just have to flash the coolest, latest hyperdevice around the workplace or bar, by all means go grab a 4S. If you can rationalize holding on to your iPhone 4 or even (gasp) the 3GS or (double-gasp) the 3G until the 2012 premiere of the iPhone 5, you might find you’ll be a bit richer and just as happy.