Starting with the design and build quality of the iPhone 4S we have a unit which uses a tried and trusted set of components. Clearly Apple feels the iPhone 4 was as tough and durable as was needed and so have decided against making any significant changes to the external aspects of the phone, other than the antenna. This is of course something which caused numerous issues at the launch of the previous generation and so it has been redesigned… or rather we have two now which should maximise the handsets ability to receive a strong signal.
The external design is of course, like the iPhone 4, a significant step up from the plastic casing used on the 3G/3GS models.
Inside of course things are significantly different and despite some less than spectacular initial responses to the hardware upgrades from the mainstream press we are more than happy with the internals. The dual core A5 processor and accompanying graphics technology continues to advance the iPhone platform and while 512MB of memory isn’t spectacular by today’s standards it is more than enough for iOS. Storage is also sufficient at 16-64GB, though other handsets do offer Micro-SD compatibility which the iPhone still lacks but the key internal change for many will be the new camera.
Until now Apple have not been known for leading the industry in lens quality but it seems that one of the key design goals with the 4S was to rectify this situation and so changes have been made on the hardware and software fronts. The result is a camera which will allow users to leave their standard point and shoot model at home thanks to a level of quality which will suit most uses. Photo buffs will of course still rely on their DSLR models but we are some way off that changing on any platform.
Any user moving from the 3GS and certainly the 3G handset will see a vast improvement in performance, the dual core A5 really is a leap forward giving a much smoother iOS experience. The Retina Display can not go unmentioned either, anyone who uses the Retina Display after their 3GS display will immediately recognise the shift in image quality and clarity this display brings to the iPhone.
Siri, is another stand out feature, voice control still has that air of a gimmick surrounding it, and many users will still hold that thought after using it on the 4S, but the technology is fast maturing and we were surprised by the accuracy achieved out of the box from the personal assistant, of course it’s still easy to trip up and some words it simply doesn’t seem to fathom. But it’s certainly a feature to watch.
So that brings us to value where the iPhone 4S will vary from country to country and provider to provider. In the US expect to pay $199 to $399 for the 16-64GB models and the UK the 16GB model is available on certain tariffs for free initially, both regions with a 24 month contract.
Check out our unboxing and first look video: