8 Comments

Summary:

Since Apple has just launched a new iPhone, it’s inevitable that reports of problems with the initial shipments are also cropping up. The iPhone 4S has garnered plenty of complaints, but here’s a quick gut check to help you determine what is and isn’t serious.

iphone-4S-feature-single

Since Apple has just launched a new iPhone, it’s inevitable that reports of problems with the initial crop of devices are also cropping up. The iPhone 4S has been accused of everything from a poor quality screen to issues with Siri, as well as network problems and brightness issues. These and other problems may be real, but that doesn’t mean a hardware return is necessarily in order.

Same screen, same complaints

The iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS both heard complaints of a “washed out” screen with a “yellowish tinge” in their early days on the market. I personally returned a brand new iPhone 3GS following the Canadian launch of the device three times before giving up and accepting the warmer hues as a necessary evil. My iPhone 4 had yellow tint at the bottom of its screen, but I decided that time around to leave well enough alone.

In both cases, the strange hues were temporary, and eventually gave way to much cooler tones. We later heard that this could’ve been caused by glue that wasn’t allowed to properly dry, and which eventually did dry, eliminating the problem entirely. Bottom line, if this is the only issue you’re having with a new iPhone 4S, consider yourself lucky and give it some time to fix itself. You’ve got a year-long warranty, after all.

Some users will also notice apparent differences in their auto-brightness performance. That’s also normal, and is likely just the byproduct of getting used to a new device. You may have to set your brightness level slightly higher or lower than on a previous iPhone to get it just right, but give yourself time to get used to the difference before trading it in.

Bad batteries

If you’re coming from an iPhone 4 or even an iPhone 3GS, you might experience some disappointment with the iPhone 4S’s battery life. It’s close to the iPhone 4 by most accounts and tests, but a small percentage of people are seeing rapid discharge in standby mode.

If you just feel like the 4S isn’t quite as long-lasting as the iPhone 4, then you probably shouldn’t worry about it. While the 4S has a battery with increased capacity, because of added features like Siri and a much more demanding processor, it actually is rated lower for some tasks, and for standby operation (300 hours on iPhone 4 vs. 200 on 4S). It takes a hit now, but as OS updates become more demanding of iPhone processors, you’ll be thankful you’ve got the A5, despite its power-hungry nature, and future iOS updates could improve battery efficiency.

On the other hand, if you’re running into situations where your battery drains in only a couple of hours, you might have grounds for a return. As always, try a full restore (not from backup) first to see if it fixes your issues, but if it doesn’t, go ahead and schedule a Genius appointment.

The cold shoulder from Siri

Some reports say Siri is sometimes failing to hear or listen. This is almost definitely a problem on Apple’s side of the equation, and not one that individual iPhone owners need to worry too much about. Ellis Hamburger at Business Insider recommends turning the Siri feature on and off as a temporary workaround if you run into this problem, but expect it to become much more dependable over time as Apple measures and scales to cope with user demand.

Siri is also reportedly having some problems launching automatically when the iPhone 4S is raised to a user’s ear. Likewise, people reported issues with the screen shutting off on the iPhone 4 due to problems that seemed to originate in the device’s proximity sensor. Software updates addressed that issue, and likely will address this one, too. Again, if problems persist after an update or two, you’ll still have plenty of time to seek out an exchange.

It’s not you, it’s your network

If you’re experiencing slow network speeds, don’t put the blame on your device just yet; it might be your network that’s having the problems. Some users are seeing much slower network speeds on Sprint than on other providers. Stacey Higginbotham previously wondered whether Sprint would be able to handle the additional load brought on by iPhone users, who are data-hungry, but Sprint itself is saying that’s not an issue.

It’s much more likely that users are just encountering the limitations of Sprint’s network, and not any specific problem. Stacey also noted that while Sprint may be able to handle the iPhone traffic, that didn’t mean its network would be fast. Network problems on any carrier also depend heavily on environmental and circumstantial factors, so watch and wait, or travel to different coverage areas before exchanging a phone for any network-related reason.

Don’t trade a good egg for a bad one

You might be eager to fix a perceived problem with your iPhone 4S, and you should be; after all, the things aren’t cheap. But the danger with acting on impulse and trading in an early model device is that one problem which could be addressed either by patience or a software update could be replaced by a more serious one that is actually related to hardware, and skeptical Apple support staff looking at a record of three or four exchanges as you try to explain the new problem.

Living with imperfection is hard, but trying to work out those imperfections amid the chaos and confusion of a new launch can make things worse. Better to wait a while, see where you stand a week or two from now, and save yourself the headache of wading through throngs of customers at Apple Stores.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Don’t trade a good egg with a bad one.. very interesting..

  2. Noel Farkingweigh Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    So much spin I need to put my head between my knees for a while…jeez.

  3. anyone else have problems with their contacts? mine all unformatted and are just numbers now…

  4. Battery is substantially worse than the 4….even with all the steps taken to help it. I have noticed something….My mail app is always running in the background even if i have quit, it. No push, No fetch (i do it manually) no sync and no notifications…..could this be the glitch?

  5. ali.w627@gmail.com Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    The phone is great! But the batteries are sux a big times, please work in that!

  6. Im a little nervous on keeping the 4s or go back to my iPhone 4 which I still have. I have notice the battery differences, even the Verizon network is being slow (the carrier or phone).
    Little changes that matter such as only one reminder option on calender instead of being able to set two, no hotspot button I can just turn off and on at will, I can’t get my 1 password app to transfer from old phone to this one because it asks for this phone’s password and I’m not aware it has one.
    I also somehow ended up with the camera roll from last phone being loaded up in both camera roll and a pictures file, so I have duplication. I dont know how to get one off without them being all deleted I also tried to turn off iCloud from transferring files and documents (makes me nervous to have this all in cyberspace) but it tells me all docs and files will be deleted from the phone if I turn off the cloud. Not even sure what files and docs I will lose?
    Sirius is kind of cool but I agree inconsistant when raised to the ear. Still trying to figure out what she can or can’t do. The things she can do are unexpected at times and funny. Husband as a joke, asked her where he could find a prostitute and she gave him location of escort services!
    Photos are not sharp but maybe due to the mat finish screen saver I put on? Guess ill buy a nee saver since i enjoyed the sharp pics of my iphone 4.
    Still.. Hoping I will find the pluses outweigh the negatives over the next 9 days since I’m always hopelessly in love with Apple!

  7. Had the 4s for 2 hours took one video then tryed to take a picture and the screen went black they say it’s hardware very disappointing battery is horrible had a 3GS to this Wow

  8. My 4s will not send mms. Carrier blames apple. Apple blames carrier. Had 3GS before an never had problems sending pic messages.

Comments have been disabled for this post