iPhone 4S Australian buying guide
- 10 October, 2011 15:39
Apple's iPhone 4S
Technology giant Apple recently unveiled the company's latest iPhone — the iPhone 4S. Featuring an identical physical design to the previous iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S (like the iPhone 3GS before it) is betting on faster performance, a better camera and a new voice recognition service to win over consumers.
For full details on all the iPhone 4S's new features, read our iPhone 4S preview.
Not interested in the iPhone 4S? Why not check out our guide to the best iPhone 4S alternatives.
Along with a dual-core CPU and a dual-core GPU, the iPhone 4S also includes a new 8-megapixel camera with backside-illuminated sensor and a brand-new voice recognition service called Siri.
Who, what, when, where, how? We've got all the Australian details below.
Why I want an iPhone 4S?
The iPhone 4S now has a dual-core A5 processor, along with a dual-core GPU. According to Apple, this makes graphics performance up to seven times faster than the iPhone 4 and directly benefits games. It should also improve performance when switching between apps, opening and closing apps and using the camera.
The iPhone 4S gets an improved camera — it jumps from 5-megapixels to 8-megapixels and now has a backlight illuminated CMOS sensor that claims better performance in low light situations. The 4S camera can now record 1080p video (up from 720p on the iPhone 4) and also has a new image signal processor for image stabilisation and face recognition. Apple was also keen to point out its speed at the launch: the company says the camera app takes 1.1 seconds to be ready for a photo and then just half a second between successive photos.
The iPhone 4S gets an exclusive software feature called Siri voice control. It's a voice assistant that lets you talk to perform tasks, such as asking for the weather forecast, getting driving or walking directions through Google Maps, making a calendar appointment or setting your alarm. It will originally be a beta release, but Apple says the software will improve as it learns your voice. In good news for Aussies, Siri will work with Australian English in addition to US and UK English.
The iPhone 4S is now a world phone meaning it can roam on all global networks including US CDMA. Previously, the iPhone 4 came in two separate models (GSM and CDMA). If you regularly travel to the US this means you can purchase a pre-paid micro-SIM in the US to use in your iPhone 4S, therefore avoiding expensive global roaming charges.
Why I don't want an iPhone 4S
At the end of the day, the iPhone 4S is iPhone 4 with a few upgraded components. It has the same “retina” display, the same glass back and the same square design with sharp edges as its predecessor. Apple has not changed any physical aspects of the design and is banking on upgraded internals to sell the iPhone 4S. While this isn't a new thing — the company did the same from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS — it's definitely not as appealing as an all-new design would have been.
The 3.5in screen in particular could have used an upgrade. Alongside some strong competition in the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Sensation (both with 4.3in sized screens), the iPhone 4S looks rather small. The sharp edges of the iPhone 4 and 4S are also a little uncomfortable to hold without a case: a new design would certainly have been refreshing.
If you currently own an iPhone 4, there is little incentive to upgrade to the iPhone 4S. The faster processor and improved graphics performance are nice, but not essential. Siri, the iPhone 4S's voice recognition software that's been described as a "personal assistant" looks impressive on paper, but it would need to be used on a daily basis to justify the upgrade. The upgraded camera is again an improvement but not compelling enough to ditch a perfectly good iPhone 4.
Read onto page two for Australian availability, pricing and plan details.
When will the iPhone 4S be available in Australia?
The iPhone 4S will be available in Australia from 8am on Friday 14 October, the same as the US launch date. In good news for Australian consumers, Australia was moved to a tier one country by Apple meaning none of the delays we saw with the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4. In the past, Australian's have had to wait a number of weeks after the US to get the iPhone.
Along with Australia and the US, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK will also get the iPhone 4S from day one. A selection of other countries, many in Europe, will have to wait until 28 October to get their hands on the iPhone 4S. These countries include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Apple says the iPhone 4S will be available in "over 70 countries" by the end of this year.
Where will I be able to buy the iPhone 4S from?
Like the current iPhone, the iPhone 4S will also be sold outright through Apple's Retail Stores, including the newly opened Penrith and Hornsby stores in New South Wales. The iPhone 4S will once again be sold through online store.
How much will the iPhone 4S cost?
The iPhone 4S will come in 16, 32 and 64GB models with outright Australian pricing starting at $799 for the 16GB model. The 32GB model will set you back $899 and the 64GB version will cost $999.
Though Apple sells the iPhone 4S outright, many people will sign up to a two-year contract. These new plans will be of particular interest to current iPhone 3GS owners: by now many of them have just finished a two year contract, so they will be ready to sign up to a new one and upgrade their handset.
Optus was the first to announce its plans for the iPhone 4S and will sell the smartphone on its $49, $59 and $79 caps, along with its $99 Timeless extreme plan. The best deal with Optus seems to be the 32GB iPhone 4S, which is available on the $79 cap over 24 months with no extra monthly charges.
The new 64GB model iPhone 4S is only available without monthly charges on Optus' $99 Timeless extreme plan — if you want the highest capacity iPhone 4S on a cheaper plan, it will attract a monthly handset charge of $19 on the $49 cap ($68 per month), $15 on the $59 cap ($74 per month) and $7 on the $79 cap ($86 per month).
Optus will also sell the iPhone 4S on a range of 12 month plans, but naturally, these shorter plans incur higher handset charges per month.
Vodafone announced its iPhone 4S plans soon after Optus. Initially, Vodafone didn't reveal any 12 month contracts, but the telco sent out a seperate release detailing 12 month iPhone 4S plans.
Vodafone is selling the iPhone 4S on four of its regular cap plans ($29, $49, $59 and $79) and four infinite plans ($45, $65, $85 and $100) over 24 and 12 months. The infinite plans seem the best bet as all four of these plans include unlimited calls, SMS and MMS messages to any phone number in Australia. The difference in price only equates to the allocated data per month: 500MB, 2GB, 3GB and 4GB.
The 64GB iPhone 4S will not incur any monthly handset charges on the $100 Infinite plan, but will cost Vodafone customers an additional $5, $15 or $25 per month on the $85, $65 and $45 Infinite plans over 24 months, respectively.
Vodafone 24 month iPhone 4S plans:
Vodafone 12 month iPhone 4S plans:
Telstra released its pricing and plan details for Apple's iPhone 4S just two days before its official launch. Unlike the iPhone 4 launch, where Telstra was the first to release its pricing, Australia's largest telco was more coy this time around. It waited until Optus and Vodafone released their iPhone 4S plans before unveiling its own.
The Telstra iPhone 4S plans seem very competitive. The hero offer is the 16GB iPhone 4S which is available for no extra monthly cost on Telstra's $79 Freedom Connect plan over 24 months.
All in all, the iPhone 4S is available on four Telstra plans — $59, $79, $99 and $129 with varying monthly handset repayments on top of the plan cost depending on the model and plan you choose. The top line 64GB iPhone 4S will cost an extra $13 on the $59 plan ($72 per month), $9 on the $79 plan ($88 per month), $5 on the $99 plan ($104 per month) and $5 on the $129 plan ($134).
Unlike both Optus and Vodafone, Telstra will not offer the iPhone 4S on 12 month plans.
Telstra iPhone 4S plans:
Telstra will open its stores across Australia from 8am on Friday for consumers to purchase the iPhone 4S. You can pre-order the phone on the Telstra Web site.
Virgin Mobile will sell the iPhone 4S on its $29, $39, $49, and $59 "fair go" caps as well as its $89 "topless" plan. Pricing ranges from $46 per month to $92 per month, with the latter getting you the top 64GB model iPhone 4S on Virgin's $89 "topless" plan with $3 monthly repayments.
The best deal seems to be the 32GB iPhone 4S, which is available for $62 per month over 24 months — this comprises of Virgin's $49 "fair go" plan with monthly handset repayments of $13.
All Virgin Mobile plans include unlimited calls and texts between Virgin Mobile numbers and free voicemail, while the flagship $89 topless plan offers unlimited calls and texts to any Australian number along with $89 of credit for international calls and texts.
Virgin Mobile iPhone 4S plans: