The iPhone 4S: Did Apple deliver what it needed to?


Another Apple press event has come and gone. While Apple does grab our attention over and over, we seem to quickly forget the somewhat underwhelmed feeling we get the moment any press event is over. But feelings aside, did Apple deliver what it needed to this year?

What the iPhone 4S did get

Better camera. This was huge. Better lens, better sensor, better camera app. Everything about the new iPhone’s camera is just better. It has 30 percent sharper images, 73 percent more light, 33 percent faster image capture and 60 percent more pixels. The new camera was definitely a star today, and rightfully so.

Longer battery life. With eight hours of talk time, six hours of 3G browsing, nine on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback, and 40 hours of music, the iPhone 4S definitely delivers on battery life. This is an area that all devices can stand to continuously improve upon.

A5 processor. Of course Apple is going to start using its legendary A5 processor in all of its devices. Apple says it will help double performance for general tasks. I can’t wait to get one and see how well it performs against my iPhone 4 benchmarks tests.

Lower price points.  This was also great news. Now there is a free iPhone on the market. And the iPhone 4 is still no slouch at $99. It still would have been great to see the 4S price points take a little dip.

What the iPhone 4S didn’t get

More accurate GPS?  It’s hard to tell if the new iPhone did or did not receive any increase in the performance of the GPS chipset.  They did mention that the antenna switching technology was updated dramatically, and perhaps that will improve the speed with which a GPS fix is obtained. But until there’s a teardown or some side-by-side comparisons, we can’t be sure.

4G network compatibility.  While the onboard chipset didn’t change, as mentioned previously, Apple has done some engineering around how the antenna is being used internally. And these changes have drastically increased data performance, but still, the iPhone 4S is 3G.

Higher screen resolution.  I’m actually glad there were no radical design changes in the screen. This would have sent app developers int a frenzy, and likely fewer apps would adopt a third resolution on the iPhone in the coming months, as many have just finished updating to support the two existing resolutions.

Overall redesign. The initial design of the iPhone 4 was able to handle the updated components of the iPhone 4S rather well. We’ll have to wait and see if existing cases will support the new camera lens, but otherwise you should be able to use your existing accessories with the new phone.

Overall I would have to say that the new iPhone 4S has about everything that I was hoping it would have. And I’m still hopeful that the changes made in antenna technology under the hood will improve GPS performance as well. It may not be the update some analysts were anticipating, but it should be plenty to keep Apple on top of its mobile game.


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