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iPhone 4S: Part Two

Dear readers! We decided to split the review: here I will tell you about the performance, camera, post a few sample photos while leaving a detailed review of the camera for the camera face off of Samsung Galaxy S2, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and, possibly, Nokia N8. This article will take some time to be prepared, hopefully, it will be ready next week.


iPhone 4S is both easy and very hard to review. It seems at first that it is mostly the good old iPhone 4 and that is the biggest problem. Most people are interested in the Siri service in the first place, than they ask about the camera and only then they condescend to inquire about the performance is it any faster? Well ok then

It is the same story as with iPhone 3Gs few people were interested in the performance gain although the better performance changed user experience very dramatically back then. It is just that performance does not sell well it does not drive people into buying phones, people prefer bells and whistles instead. In case of iPhone 4S the performance is a huge upside of the phone. But just how much is it different as compared to iPhone 4?

it is a really strange case. I take both iPhones, connect them to the same hot spot and I see Safari launches simultaneously on both of them but iPhone 4S loads webpages a bit faster. Google Maps also start simultaneously but iPhone 4S creates routes and loads maps faster. But the heaviest test is, of course, playing Infinity Blade the new iPhone loads levels a lot faster, there are almost no lags and the game starts momentarily from the background. If you play games like Infinity Blade you are a lot more likely to notice performance gains of the new iPhone. Camera works faster too making and saving pictures takes less time. Launching camera when the phone is locked takes practically no time spectacular as compared to the previous iPhone. I suppose the camera will receive updates and might even become the fastest camera on devices of this type and as I come to think about it I cannot really recall any other phone with a camera that fast on the market today. Switching between the photo and video modes takes less than a second now instead of the two seconds on iPhone 4. The autofocus works faster. Faster, faster, faster is the word.

You will certainly appreciate the speed if you currently use iPhone 3Gs or the original iPhone 4, a Windows Mobile or Windows Phone 7 smartphones. iPhone 4S does not even look bad next to the top Android smartphones.

Interestingly, nowadays we count fractions of second when talking about performance in real life it means that apps start almost momentarily. You get used to speed very quickly and then you expect same performance from your laptop, tablet, just any electronic device you have. Apple now very well hot to impress a user time is everything, applications must start momentarily and dont slow the performance down while working on the background. I wonder, why didnt they add more system memory then? Trying to save? While I have been testing iPhone 4S I have never encountered a forced system shut down of an application as well as on iPhone 4, although, sometimes Google Maps and Safari are stopped. Yes, there is room for improvements.

iPhone 4

Phone Calls

I was not happy at all with iPhone 4 as a phone too often I pressed some buttons while talking (due to the proximity sensor issues), conversations stopping without any obvious reasons. I had to put a bumper on it not to mess with the antenna. Making simple phone calls could be really tricky sometimes on iPhone 4.

So, I was pleasantly surprised with the fixes Apple has done. The new iPhone 4S has a different proximity sensor and it work just as the one in iPhone 3Gs immaculately. I could not press any buttons while making phone calls however hard I tried. And it does not matter whether you use with or without a case or a bumper. The reception quality also seemed to me a little better that on iPhone 4. While driving in tunnels I often lost signal on iPhone 4, iPhone 4S in the same locations was only losing a few bits of conversation while maintaining signal. So, if you talk a lot on your iPhone 4 you might want to switch to iPhone 4S. The better call quality is, probably, the most important improvement in the new iPhone for me.

Battery Life

One of the strongest sides of both iPhone 4 and 4S is the battery life. While top Androids must be charged daily or even several times a day iPhone 4 can easily give you two days on battery if not tortured with games and heavy applications. iPhone 4S boasts of 8 hours of phone calls in 3G or fourteen in 2G networks in real life after two days of regular use I still had about 30% of battery charge (although I did not make a lot of calls)! I would have charged Galaxy S2 a couple of times during that two days. This is a very big plus for iPhone 4S.


iPhone 4S features an 8 MPix camera with an inverse matrix backlight and autofocus. You can manually focus on objects by tapping on the screen and together with the new CPU this feature works a lot faster. It also has new and better lenses.

However, iPhone 4 still remains an excellent cameraphone. Many people use extra apps like Instagram to enhance their pictures. iPhone 4 really became a good assistant for me and as a matter of fact some of my articles feature pictures I made on iPhone 4. I dont even know how many pictures I have made with iPhone 4, must be thousands of them and several hours of video.

The menu remains unaltered in the new iPhone you can turn the flash on or off, enable HDR, switch to the front camera, go to the gallery, turn the grid on.

I tried making pictures of small objects indoors and as you can see for yourself iPhone 4S is an excellent pocket reporters camera for shooting text and gadgets. It does not do that well outdoors and its performance depends greatly on the light. Some pictures are very good while other lack details similar to any other phone camera. The autofocus works very fast and together with one of the many photo apps available for iOS you can create practically any effect you want. You must be wondering by now whether this is the best phone camera on the market today. Personally, I think Galaxy S2 makes better pictures. But we will have a detailed comparison of phone cameras next week so we will see about that.

iPhone 4S can now shoot 1080p video but it certainly could do with a stabilizer. But the quality is decent nevertheless and videos are completely suitable for YouTube uploading or saving in a personal gallery.

Bottom Line

iPhone 4S became an instant hit but what are its strong sides as compared to iPhone 4?

  • Better performance
  • Longer battery life
  • A better camera and thus pictures and videos
  • The sound quality does not seem to have changed but I think it is a plus for the new iPhone as the old one is still one of the best music phones there is
  • Siri, probably one of the biggest things of iPhone 4S
  • it has got excellent phone call quality
  • Excellent design, body materials although there are some assembly quality issues

We will soon release an iOS5 review you no longer need iTunes to sync your iPhone you can do it now via Wi-Fi, there is iMessage and some other improvements. It is all already available in iPhone 4S. the downsides of the new iPhone are I think obvious no new design, wallpapers, system sounds or any special tiny details for iPhone 4S uniquely. There arent even no new accessories for it. And when I connected the Sony BT-DR50 Bluetooth headset I could not get the AVRSP profile working (only the Play button was functional). I am not sure whether there is an issue with the phone or with the headset but there is a problem.

Apple has made another brilliant product and I believe it very important for the company as a testing polygon for the new Siri service as it was some time ago with FaceTime which was available at first only for iPhone 4 and iPod Touch and only after a while appeared on the companys laptops and tablets. It is also a test drive for Apples iCloud. So what we have in iPhone 4S allow me to suppose what iPhone 5 will most likely have a different design, display, CPU, more system memory and may be a different camera it will be a completely different phone.

iPhone 4 owners keep asking me whether it is worth switching to 4S. I think if you dont mind spending the cash they ask for it then yes no one knows when iPhone 5 will be here.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion to be known to the author and everybody else.

Sergei Kuzmin (skuzmin@mobile-review.com)
Twitter    Livejournal
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net)

Published — 18 October 2011

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