A review – why upgrade to an iPhone 4S

 apple iPhone 4sAn Overview of the Apple iPhone 4S

If you own an older iPhone: Apple’s new software, iOS 5 (now available as a free download) will work on the iPhone 4 and 3GS, but not the original iPhone or 3G. For those of you with an older iPhone model, the launch of the iPhone 4S is a good choice to upgrade to a faster, more powerful and responsive phone, with a sharper screen. While it initially looks identical to the iPhone 4, underneath the 3.5-inch touchscreen are a number of significant improvements. For example, it sports a faster microprocessor and offers new voice-activated software.

The iPhone 4S launched on October 14 2011 and within three days a record-breaking four million phones had been sold. The Apple iPhone 4S is already considered by many in the smartphone industry to be an outstanding mobile phone packed with fantastic features; is easy and intuitive to use, it has a stunning display and uses the latest operating system ensuring a long lasting battery. Importantly, it does not suffer from the reception problems experienced by iPhone 4 as the 4S has a new design that uses two antennae, switching between them for better and faster coverage.The 4S model can also connect to the internet via 3G or wi-fi, it has a great camera and an impressive number of new software features discussed in more detail below.

The downside for you, the customer, is that it is still very expensive particularly for the 32GB and 64 GB models (the 16GB would cost you around £499 pay as you go). It retains a potentially smashable glass front panel,  still has no memory card slot, or an FM radio. The touchscreen at 3.5 inches is generally smaller than rival smartphones, but the iPhone has the highest resolution (960×640 pixels) that you can buy which means that photos, videos and web pages all look great. However, the iPhone 4 still doesn’t support Flash so can’t show some online videos and animation.

Performance of the iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4S runs on the same Apple A5 chip that’s found in the iPad 2. This is a dual-core processor offering you twice as much processing power and up to seven times faster graphics. Essentially, the iPhone 4S is even quicker than its predessessors, taking less time to access web pages and download apps. Accessing the camera and saving photos are also faster. If you enjoy playing 3D games, you will find they work better than before.

The new voice-activated software, called ‘Siri’ combines voice recognition technology with artificial intelligence, enabling it to answer your questions or perform a range of instructions.  You can for example speak in your diary appointments rather than type them. Although Siri works well and its ability to understand what you’re saying is impressive- it has been criticised for limited UK information and available services when compared to its American counterpart.

The new operating system iOS 5 offers you a huge choice of advanced functions it  is user friendly and straightforward to operate.  iOS 5 offers some improvements over the old operating system, you don’t need to buy the new iPhone 4S to get it, you can download it for free to use on your older 3GS or iPhone 4. The overhauled notification system is less intrusive than the older operating system in that the new iMessage features enables you to securely send free text messages over the internet to other iOS5 users rather than SMS (wi-fi or 3G -making it possible to use without a PC or Mac). This means you have the choice to purchase music and videos and back up your information online over a wireless network.

There’s also iCloud, Apple’s new online storage service which enables you to keep all your content coordinated between your devices and replaces many of the features of the MobileMe service.  ICloud With iOS 5means that Apple is finally releasing the iPhone from its desktop iTunes software, instead allowing you to store your email, contacts, calendars, reminders, Safari bookmarks, notes, documents and — best of all — photos online.

iOS 5 could save you a few pennies thanks to a service called iMessage. This is a messaging system exclusively for people who are using devices running iOS 5, and unlike text messages it’s completely free. It’s not a separate app — the iPhone will figure out whether an iMessage is coming from someone in your contacts and display the messages in the same conversation view as your normal texts, but tinted blue so you can tell iMessages from SMS.

One good thing about iCloud is that if you’ve got other iOS devices, you can get all your photos and data on to them wirelessly, downloading them from Apple’s cloud storage once they’ve been uploaded to iCloud from one device. It also offers peace of mind, because if your mobile breaks it doesn’t mean all your data is lost.

4S iPhone Camera

The new 8Mp camera is outstanding and easy to use. The iPhone 4 has a 5Mp camera with fewer camera features. The 4S offers an improved range  –  touch focus, photo editing and geo-tagging ( the phone’s GPS records where your photos are taken). Because the camera is front-facing it is well suited to making video calls by wi-fi using the  ‘FaceTime’ feature to other iPhone users.

The video quality on the 4S has vastly improved from previous models -great details, colour and playback quality.  Video resolution has increased from 720p HD quality on the iPhone 4 to 1080p Full HD quality (30 frames per second). Camera shake is reduced by an effective image stabiliser giving you superior results. Testers have suggested that the video quality matches and replaces your need for a specific video camera.

4S Music Quality

The music player is  impressive and very easy to use with handy controls built into the headphone lead so you don’t have to use the iPhone handset to control the tracks. However, you may want to buy different headphones plugging into the 3.5mmsocket, as some users have suggested that the 4S headphones lack music quality.

Internet Use

As with the iPhone 4 you can download applications from a vast selection at Apple’s App Store and there’s a GPS receiver to help with navigation. The iPhone’s Safari web browser is excellent. You will get a quick and efficient connection to the web and the phone is wi-fi capable when you’re in a wireless hotspot. The touchscreen is responsive and the 4S has a new tabbed browser.

The dual-core processor keeps everything running at lightning speeds, even if you have multiple applications open at the same time.

Why upgrade?

If you already own an iPhone 4 it is probably not worth spending a fortune on the 4S – instead, download the latest version of iOS for your current iPhone and wait for the inevitable iPhone 5 before investing your money.

If you are looking for a new smartphone and you want the best available then we suggest the iPhone 4S is a really great choice. Check out the latest deals with our sponsors on 3 who have some very competitive deals on the 4S.

Read our article on the iOS 5  bug said to be affecting the extended battery life of the 4S. Apple is expected to update the iOS 5 in the next few weeks to solve this problem.