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iPhone 4S – Review

iPhone 4S – ReviewMany have called the iPhone 4S a ‘gimick’, a stop-gap between the introduction of the mysterious iPhone 5, which has been whispered about since the launch of the iPhone 4 last year.  There is good reason for this, as the iPhone 4S is, to look at, a replica of the iPhone 4 and, for those who look to impress with the latest models, falls short of having a ‘wow-factor’.  The iPhone 4S does, however, have some interesting functional additions which make it stand out from previous models.

Although on the face of it, the iPhone 4S is an almost exact copy of the iPhone 4, with most of the changes being internal, technical changes, there are some interested changes to the outer design which, although they are minute, have a great impact on the functionality of the phone. The dual-band aerial design is situated specifically to avoid the embarrassing issues Apple faced upon the launch of the iPhone 4, when people were struggling to pick up a phone signal depending on how they held the phone. The new situation is much better and, although the phone function still does not seem to have been Apple’s major concern when designing the smartphone, it is certainly an improvement on older models, especially the iPhone 3GS.

iPhone 4S – Review

One of the biggest changes to come with the iPhone 4S is the new iOS 5. This iOS boasts some welcome changes, including the improved way it handles notifications, some extra shortcuts and iMessage.

The notifications now scroll across the top of your screen, rather than popping up in the middle; this means that, rather than interrupting what you are doing, they are discreet enough not to interfere with any game you are playing or email you are writing, but are still eye-catching enough for you to notice them. If you do happen to miss a notification though, or forget about one, then the new notification drop down is certainly useful. Swiping down from the top of most screens will bring down a list of new notifications, as well as useful information such as the weather and stock information. Although this is a very useful feature, it is one which I actually stumbled on by accident as it is not obvious from your screen that it exists. It is also very Android-esque and seems to be the closest to a widget that Apple will allow itself to get.

All the home lock screens are as before, with swipe-able interfaces, but there are a few extra shortcuts; for example, pressing the button twice whilst on the lock screen brings up both the music functions and the camera button, meaning images can be taken without having to ‘log in’ to your phone, capturing more un-missable moments than before!

The camera is 8 mega-pixels and has an improved aperture ratio compared with other iPhones. Handy functions, such as switching between cameras (i.e. facing, non-facing) are there, as is the HDR option, which gives a really good quality image. Another handy shortcut is the ability to tweet images directly; in fact, the whole phone can now be linked up to your twitter account, meaning that any links, images or game results can be tweeted in an instant, without leaving the specific app you are in.

Another update which comes with iOS 5 is the long-awaited addition of message tones. As someone who commutes by train daily, I can testify how irritating the choice of five or six message tones on one of the most popular phones can be! There are now 27 message tones available, meaning that you stand much less chance of looking a bit silly as you check your phone when the person next to you gets a text. A minor detail, I know, but it shows that Apple is, at least, listening to feedback from consumers.

Text messaging itself has improved with the new iOS seeing the introduction of iMessage, the BBM style instant messenger which integrates with the text message function and works via the internet with other iOS 5 users. This has the added bonus of knowing when a message has been read, as well as being able to see when the recipient is composing a reply.

One of the main additions to the iPhone 4S is Siri. Siri is a ‘personal assistant’ app, built into the phone and accessible by a double-click from any home screen.  It is a voice recognition tool and its functions vary from finding out the weather, answering questions, sending texts, arranging appointments; basically anything which can be found on your phone or the internet can be accessed and utilised through Siri. As for the voice recognition, it is an improvement on the previous versions, however, it does seem to cope with commands such as ‘text my husband’ and ‘find the weather for’, rather than detailed or more contextual information such as the actual message you want to text or the area you wish to find the weather for. Saying that, it is quite a handy tool and has some great extras, such as setting reminders for when you leave or enter certain locations (rather than on a time basis); for example, you could set a reminder to feed the dog when you get home and, as long as your location services are on (which have the unfortunate side-effect of draining the battery slightly quicker), then as soon asiPhone 4S – Review you get home the reminder notification would appear.

There have been issues with the battery draining far too quickly on this model, however, the iOS update 5.0.1, does seem to have ironed this out somewhat.  It has not got rid of the problem completely though, however this has always been one of the niggling flaws of the iPhone and is one which fans have come to expect and accept.

In conclusion then, I would say that the majority of the benefits of the iPhone 4S, excepting perhaps Siri, actually come from the new iOS, which is now available on both the 3GS and 4 models. If you are happy enough with the phone signal and battery life of these models, and like your gadgets to look ‘new’, then I would say update your old iPhone’s iOS and await the iPhone 5 with baited breath.

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