I received an anticipated package on Friday, the iPhone 4S. I have been using it all weekend and thought I would post my thoughts in a loose review.
I upgraded to the 4S from a two year old iPhone 3GS and the difference in speed is immense. iPhones have been very responsive from the beginning and I rarely noticed stuttering in navigation, scrolling and other common tasks in the original iPhone or 3GS. The 4S is so much smoother in its operations and response time than those earlier phones. Animations and transitions are quick yet their frame rate never drops. Using the phone is a fluid and effortless experience. I do not know how it compares to the iPhone 4, but I have read that those users experience a noticeable speed boost as well.
My overall excitement for Siri requires a caveat. Apple has labeled Siri as beta software and there are hiccups. I live in an area that has spotty reception once I leave my home and Siri will not do anything without a data connection. Beyond connectivity it seems that Apple’s servers are pretty slammed with all the new activations, because sometimes Siri will not respond despite a good data connection. Once those high traffic periods subside the problems pass.
I really enjoy all the things that Siri lets me do. Creating reminders, responding to texts and emails, setting timers, and much more is so easy and enjoyable. After spending a couple days using it I cannot wait to see how Siri’s capabilities grow and expand over the coming years. It really feels like a new, natural way of interacting with computers.
One thing that does bother me about Siri is the requirement for internet connection. Some things do not feel like they should require the internet, reminders and calendar events for example. I am not sure if this will change over time but it would be nice if there were at least limited capabilities without a data connection. This will be more necessary as Siri moves to Apple’s other devices that are not connected as constantly as iPhones.
The camera has been improved in 2 significant ways: speed and optic quality. It launches much quicker. I now have half a chance of capturing the moment when I pull out my phone. You can take a series of shots without waiting a few seconds between each one. The improved speed of the camera means that I will use it more often, especially to take photos of my family.
The camera’s optics are much better, putting more light on the sensor. Photos are sharper and can use a higher shutter speed in low light. They don’t really compare with average DSLR shots unless they are carefully composed and lit, but the average quality of the camera that is always available has just increased quite a bit. I would much rather have a good camera available all the time than a great camera occasionally (that's actually a false choice, I’ll keep using both).
Another fun thing is 1080p video. The quality is good, and it is nice to know that hi-def now means the same thing to Apple as it does to the rest of us. It just makes me hope that the Apple TV gets 1080p playback with a software update instead of new hardware.
In conclusion, I think the iPhone 4S is a tremendous upgrade from the 3GS and am very happy that I went for it. I am not sure if the upgrade would be significant enough for many iPhone 4 users, but consider me a happy customer.