You won't be able to get your hands on Apple's iPhone 4S until Friday, but US based reviews of the newest iPhone have begun to trickle through today, just two days before the official launch. So, how does the iPhone 4S stack up according to the experts? We've rounded up a selection of the best iPhone 4S reviews.
For full details on the iPhone 4S Australian launch, including pricing and telco details from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, read our iPhone 4S Australian buying guide. Siri: All you need to know about the iPhone 4S' personal assistant. Not interested in the iPhone 4S? Why not check out our guide to the best iPhone 4S alternatives.
The general consensus seems to be that the iPhone 4S is definitely an improvement over the iPhone 4, with faster speeds and the Siri voice recognition feature two glaring positives. However, most reviewers seem to agree that updating from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 4S is not a necessity — owners of an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS are more likely to be impressed with the iPhone 4S' new features.
Here's a selection of the best reviews published so far.
"If you're an owner of an older iPhone, or someone looking to switch to an iPhone from a different platform, there’s never been a better Apple device to buy. The iPhone 4S is an astoundingly good phone. Between the hardware (both inside and out) and the software (iOS 5 as well as third party offerings), it's just kind of an awesome package. The lack of LTE, a larger display, or a new design may put off some buyers, but that won’t change the fact that 4S is a force to be reckoned with."
"The iPhone 4S is a great device for some, but what if you’re thinking of upgrading from an iPhone 4? That's a tougher call. The phone is faster, to be sure, and has an amazing camera. And of course, you can't get Siri unless you have a 4S… but I just don’t know if any of those reasons are compelling enough to convince previous buyers to upgrade."
"Android phones seem to come out every Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. Apple updates iOS and the iPhone only once a year. So Apple had a lot of catching up to do, even some leapfrogging. There are some rough spots here and there; for example, every now and then the 4S's camera app gets stuck on its startup screen. And while the battery still gets you through one full day, standby time is shorter than before (200 hours versus 300). But over all, Apple has done an excellent job."
"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."
"The standout feature, not available in other iPhones, or in any other phone I've seen, is Siri. It answers questions and provides information using natural language and an intelligent understanding, not just of words, but of context and colloquial phrasing. It isn't perfect, and is labelled a beta, but it has great potential and worked pretty well for me, despite some glitches."
"Despite Siri, the iPhone 4S isn't a dramatic game-changer like some previous iPhones. Some new features are catch-ups to competitors. I sense Apple chose to focus more on software and cloud service than on hardware. But, in my tests, the iPhone 4S performed very well."
"While some early iPhone 4 adopters will likely be eligible for a new phone in the next few months, my suspicion is that iPhone 3GS users will be at the head of the upgrade line for the iPhone 4S. For those users, the iPhone 4S will be big deal. Sure, there's a dramatic speed boost, but for my money the best feature they’ll gain is the shockingly bright and clear Retina display."
"For users of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S's charms are a bit more subtle. There's no doubt that the iPhone 4S is faster — though the iPhone 4 is not exactly poky. The 4S camera is definitely better, but the big leap came from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4. The jump from 4 to 4S is a bit more incremental. Siri is certainly intriguing, but in its beta state it’s unclear just how useful it will be in the long run. Over the next few months we should get a better idea about how Siri is evolving."
"In the end, the iPhone 4S follows Apple's recent trajectory of iPhone releases: It’s an object of some appeal to people who last upgraded their phones a year ago, and over the next year a great many of them will find it worthwhile to upgrade to the iPhone 4S. But to all those people who’ve been hanging on to their iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, the wait is over: It's time to upgrade without any hesitation whatsoever. The iPhone 4S has speed, a great camera, some cool voice-recognition features, and the same beautiful industrial design that was introduced in the iPhone 4. It's destined to be immensely popular. The S, in this case, seems to stand for "sure thing."
"If you already have an iPhone 4 and still have time left on your two-year contract, it will be a pricey decision to upgrade to an iPhone 4S — especially since you’ll get the iOS 5 features (again, minus Siri) as an upgrade for free. If either speed or the camera are of the utmost importance to you, you should upgrade. If not, go to an Apple Store and see for yourself just how cool Siri is and then decide."
"Leading up to last week's event, like everyone else, I kept reading the rumors about a new iPhone with a larger screen and completely different form factor. Quite frankly, I was hoping they were wrong. The iPhone 4′s design is the pinnacle of smartphone design in my opinion. I simply could not imagine how they could alter it to make it better. Even making it thinner would mean that it wouldn’t fit as nicely in your hands for taking pictures. Android fanboys are going to love that statement."
"I’m happy that Apple decided not to change the form factor even though they had to know there would be some backlash from a certain segment of the population (read: idiots). Instead, Apple focused on the other thing they do best: refining already great products to make them better. The iPhone 4 was a great product. The best smartphone ever made. Now it cedes that title to the iPhone 4S."
"Siri, the high quality and ultra-fast camera, 30 fps 1080p HD video, globally available voice recognition and the introduction of two antennae (the phone seamlessly switches between whichever is getting the strongest signal) are features that make the 4S irresistible; what is more, the unchanged form means that a whole new range of covers and accessories won't be required."
"If you are tired of the upgrade race or feel you can't justify the expense, you at least have the knowledge that iOS 5 will transform your existing iPhone enthrallingly."
"In a sad, sad week for Apple, come a new phone and a new operating system that between them show the company still at the top of its game, still innovating, still implementing new technologies at a level of perfection and fluency that is only possible when you make, design and control it all: device, chip architecture and operating system."
"Once again Apple is taking a lead and asking a lot of its competitors. I wish those competitors luck, for the better all smartphones are, the happier I am. If Steve Jobs's true legacy is that the devices every other company makes are so, so much better than they otherwise would have been, I don't think he would mind one bit."
"All in all, the iPhone 4S lives up to its billing as the best ever iPhone, bringing it a clear step up from the iPhone 4. Many with that handset will question if the upgrades are worth it, and that's something that could impact on the iPhone 4S - especially if people feel that they should hang on for an iPhone 5 instead."
"It's important to remember that Apple enjoys a special relationship with consumers, attracting those who don't care a jot about smartphone specs but want to make sure they get something halfway decent. The trust in the brand is unerring for many. But imagine this was the update Samsung threw out for the Galaxy S3 - technology enthusiasts would be pointing and laughing at the Korean giant for such a minor set of updates."
"Technically, the iPhone 4S manages to keep pace with the competition - and will likely find it will be quickly outdone in the coming months in spec terms. But Apple has a way of making the features that rivals implemented years ago seem shiny and new. Given that Cook's Clan managed to get people queuing down the street for a white variant of a nine month-old phone, we fully expect swathes of consumers to line the streets again for the iPhone 4S."