Apple iPhone 4S Review

Apple’s newest iteration of the iPhone was greeted with mixed reactions from the market. A lot has been said, both praises and disappointments, about what it should have been in the first place. Since the local launch of the iPhone 4S with Globe and Smart is just a couple of days away, let me share with you what I think of this phone. Check out our iPhone 4S review after the jump.

Prior to this, I was using an iPhone 4 and have actually decided not to get the iPhone 4S (was able to get the iPhone 4 free last year with Globe in exchange for a 3-year contract). Do read on our iPhone 4 review from last year to get a better perspective before reading on.

Frankly, I did not see any significant compelling reason to upgrade. I share this same advice to folks who asked me and even on TV guesting and interviews. The opportunity to upgrade came by accident so I accepted it thinking I also needed to actually use and review the handset in order to be more reasonable with my earlier conclusion.

But before I go there, let me walk you thru what the iPhone 4S offers and how is it different from the iPhone 4.

Better Hardware Configuration.

Twice the processor, more storage, better camera and faster connectivity — that’s what the iPhone 4S added to the table. It now sports dual-core processors that was used on the iPad 2 as well as options for a 64GB storage (with 16Gb and 32GB still in the menu) and HSDPA connectivity that can do up to 14.4Mbps.

There’s no LTE or even HSPA+ here so the iPhone 4S will not really maximize the speeds of the HSPA+ network of Smart and Globe.

Apple also bumped up the camera on the phone to 8MP with option to record video up to 1080p full HD. More on the camera quality and HD features later.

For good measure, they also added Bluetooth 4.0. No NFC support here, a technology that seems to be the trend now.

Still Same Old Design.

The iPhone 4S sports the same old design as its predecessor so there’s nothing to really worth mentioning in the design department.

Yes, the design and solid construction of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S is already impressive but folks like me still want bigger screen. A 4.3-inch display seems to be the minimum size when it comes to flagship handsets so the 3.5″ on the iPhone 4S feels like in the mid-range category already.

And while the design of the iPhone 4S already screams premium craftsmanship, a little bit more screen real estate would have been great (catching up to the times, eh?). Nevertheless, the 960×640 screen resolution is among the best resolution we’ve ever seen on most handsets (which normally is in the 480×800) this size.

Well hello there, Siri!

One of the purportedly best features of the iPhone 4S is the personal assistant function that’s built into the OS which is called Siri.

What makes it different from any other dictation, voice control or voice recognition software is Siri’s ability to understand semantics a little bit better than the rest. That means, you don’t have to say commands in a specific structure so it can understand you. The best part is that Siri actually has a sense of humor and personality.

Siri isn’t new either. It’s been a stand-alone app for about a year in the iTunes App Store (where few people noticed or ever used it). Apple bought the company and yanked Siri from the Store to make it part of iOS5. It’s curious though that Apple would not make Siri available to the iPhone 4.

There’s also a catch here though — you will need to be connected to the internet to be able to use Siri. This is because the commands are processed in the cloud (Apple servers) and other related services like Wolfram Alpha. That means activating and using Siri entails data charges and also contributes to faster battery consumption.

My other beef is you’ll have to talk clearly with a little bit of an America accent when talking to Siri. Otherwise, you’ll just end up repeating yourself and be frustrated in the process.

I’ve been using the iPhone 4S for a couple of weeks now and have not gotten used to telling Siri to execute commands. The only time I whip it out is to demonstrate to people how it works or how funny some of the answers are.

For the most part, I don’t see Siri as an essential feature for my daily use.

Still the Best Camera.

When iPhone 4 first came, it had the best camera in any handset that I’ve used. It was so good I am comfortable not bringing my Canon S95 with me and use it to take photos instead. Same with the HD video.

The iPhone 4S brings it up a notch and brought it an 8MP camera with full HD 1080p video recording capabilities. While the front facing camera is still 2MP, it’ll give you a great video conferencing feel, but still has yet to be any where near equivalent to a virtual feel such that telepresence solutions and standard video conferencing bring on a solid or wired connection.

The camera is one of the fastest I’ve used on a phone. From experience, I think it can do something like 2fps when taking stills.

Images are a bit saturated so colors look deeper and more prominent. Over-all sharp and clean images even at low-light conditions.

Video recording at 1080p is fast and focused with very minimal dropped frames. The microphone picks up a lot of unwanted noise though.

The Network: #globeiphone4s or #smartiphone4s

This is the first time that the iPhone 4S will be offered on more than one network in the country. After being exclusive to Globe Telecom for the past 3 years, Smart Communication will also offer the iPhone 4S both on prepaid and postpaid plans this coming December 16, 2011 (both networks have invited us to attend their launch party).

This offers more option for subscribers to choose the network that works best in their location. I believe it’s the type of postpaid package that will play a huge factor when people pick the network.

We still don’t have the details of the postpaid plans form Globe and Smart so we can’t say much in that aspect (will update come December 16).

As mentioned earlier, the iPhone 4S only comes with an updated HSDPA chip that has a theoretical speed of up to 14.4Mbps. Unfortunately, the HSDPA and HSPA network of both telcos are somewhat congested compared to their newer and faster HSPA+ network so don’t expect really great mobile internet connections compared to the ones that use the Galaxy S2 or Galaxy Note.

It’s in the OS.

Apple has also rolled out the latest version of their mobile OS. While iOS5 is also available on earlier models of the iPhone (3GS and iP4) and other iDevices, Siri only natively works on the iPhone 4S. You can read more about iOS5 in our earlier post here.,

The dual-core processor helps improve performance of multi-tasking and 1080p video encoding. Twitter is heavily integrated into the OS and Notification looks Android-ish.

iCloud is best used to synchronized all your iDevices and back them all up in the cloud (does not sync and backup SMS messages though). It’s not perfect but it works. iMessage is great as a compliment to regular SMS especially when your contacts are using an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad on iOS5.

Battery life is something that’s always an issue with the iPhone 4 since it was first introduced. The iPhone 4S had some problems with iOS5 with batteries draining really fast but a fix was rolled out to address this. Expect a good whole day of normal use, a day and a half if you’re lucky and around 12 to 18 hours if you’re a heavy user.

What’s the Bottomline?

The iPhone 4S is a great phone over-all. If you haven’t switched to an iPhone, this is the best time to convince you to get one. It’s not a big deal if you’re coming from the iPhone 4 but will surely get the benefits if you’re using the older 3G or 3GS.

Siri doesn’t contribute much to the over-all user experience. You won’t miss it even if you turn the feature off.

Apple iPhone 4s specs:
3.5″ display @ 960×640 pixels
Apple 1GHz A5 dual-core chip
16GB, 32GB & 64GB internal storage
HSDPA or EVDO 14.4Mbps
WiFi 802.11b/g/n
8MP camera with LED flash
1080p video recording
2nd front-facing camera
2 mics w/ noise-canceling
Bluetooth 4.0
iOS 5

Apple did a bit of re-engineering with the internal circuit to provide better antenna reception for better call quality and 3G signal. So, if you’re thinking about that “grip-of-death” issue that plagued the old iPhone 4, it’s no longer an issue here.

The iPhone 4S may not be the top choice for a lot of people this year because of the large number of competing handsets that is at par in terms of performance and hardware configuration.

Where the iPhone 4S excels is the smooth integration of the OS and the complementing hardware. It may not have the fastest processor, the biggest screen, or the fastest 4G chip but that’s not the game that Apple plays. The iPhone 4 is already a great smartphone. Apple just made it a little better with the 4S.

145 Comments on this Post

  1. applefanboy

    oi OpRollingThunder, saksak mo sa mukha mo ung panget mong Nokia. Wag mo kaming idamay dyan sa kabaduyan mo. Ang nokia pang squatter at celfon ng mandurukot. amBaduy nyan!

    • sino kaya ang pang-squatter ang asal? sa pagpopost pa lang di halata eh anu? lols! haha!

    • You’re calling him a “squatter” when you yourself act and talk like one. What a hypocrite.

      If Steve Jobs was still alive saw someone like you holding his iPhone, he’d shoot you in the head and take it back. You don’t deserve it.

    • may pambili nga ng iphone, nka jailbreak naman. mas bisaya ka pa sa gumagamit ng nokia. ang IOS, pang bobo / or grade school lang.

    • KuwangkoAkino

      What a bold claim from Ramboo…I am a Visayan, high ranking official ng isang reputable company, but I never ever in my life, looked down janitors na tagalog… too bad we fellow pilipino baba ng tingin sa taga-visayas.

  2. Good review on the iPhone 4s. I’m looking forward to buy the iPhone 4 regardless if it has an ‘S’ or not because of the camera features.

  3. haist! walang kamatayan na conversations. I’m not on Apple or Nokia because both are good companies and smartphone manufacturers. On my opinion its just iOS is a mature enough OS compared to Meego or Symbian, meaning the edge of the iDevices is the smooth UI, App Store and OS. Nokia’s edge is their hardware, or the design for example the unibody of Nokia N9-00 and Lumia 800 is excellent but WP7 and Meego’s OS I think iOS still excells. Bottomline: Give me a phone with the body of N9-00, Carl Zeiss optics and Xenon Flash of N8-00, CPU of Samsung Galaxy SII and with iOS5, I’ll definitely buy it.

  4. I like to have this phone, but still no means to acquire it. Nice review.

  5. HAHA! @Abe your getting more and more careful about your phone. your now using a screen protector both front and back! haha.. probably to prevent it from SCATTERING! :D

  6. I just sold my iPhone 4 will be getting a Galaxy Note. 1280×800 hubba hubba!

    Siri and a faster SOC which will marginally impact only games isn’t enough of an upgrade for me, particularly when I don’t play games on my phone (they drain battery like crazy!). I prefer higher res and slightly more screen estate, but each one to his own.

  7. Gusto ko ng iPhone 4S pero sa ngayun ang nabibili ko pa lang iphone 3gs. Anyway nice review.

  8. iPhone 4S is the gaming (see GPU specs, not CPU) since it has the best GPU. it evens outperforms Nvdia Tegra 3 (Kal-el), a SOC that has not been released yet, in gaming.

  9. really nice! I want this phone toooo! :D

  10. Somebody please educate these iMorons. iOS being the smoothest phone was way back in 2007.

    Thanks to the benefit of its multi-pausing (WTF) feature as iMorons render it as a feature.

    The WP Mango is the smoothest smartphone OS to date. Ganyan talaga ang mga late adopters. Ang uso at best noong 2007 be best pa lang sa kanila ngayon. 4 years delayed ang uso sa inyo mga epal.

    Try nyo mga iMorons ang Lumia 800 bago kayo sumatsat that Nokia is for squatters. Putangines naman, who needs a dual-core without MF multi-tasking? Para saan pa ang dual-core na iyan?

    Sosyal na pala ang squatters ngayon, umiNFC na sa sharing of photos, games, music and files.

    iMorons, take your icons and eat it too. Putang iOS yan, parang nursery tiles for the kindergartener-brained epals like the sumasamba and pumipila for this stupid phone. Talk about volunteering oneself to be frauded. Wake up morons!

    • galaxy s2

      Dre, nagaral ka ba ng software engineering? Kelan anging maganda yung mga bagong OS??? BOBO!! Yung mga bagong OS gaya ng WP MANGO madaming bugs!

      Meron nga akong kaibigan na may Mozart, di maconnect yung windows phone nya sa microsoft exchange! Windows to windows na yan ha? Kaya ayun, lumipat ng android.

      (sorry nga pala baka di mo alam yung microsoft exchange. FYI Exchange po eh email software ng microsoft)

      Lumia 800 mo eh rebranded na N8. panget ng camera at ang panget ng screen! At walang front facing camera! Helloooo!!! 2011 na at uso na video chatting. tsssss….

    • @galaxy s2: Relax. Ingat sa mga pinagsasabi, at next time, pakireview ng comments mo, bago mo ipost. Mas nagmuka ka kasing BOBO sa comment mo. Dami mong sinasabi e obvious naman na wala kang alam sa Lumia 800, sa Nokia N8, video chat, ‘bagong os’ at lalo na sa ‘Software Engineering’. lol

    • galaxy s2


      Pre MCITP ako at CCNP. Search mo sa google baka di mo alam kung ano yung dalawa. At pre, ilang milyong beses na ko nagbasa ng Lumia 800 at ano ang sabi ng GSMARENA, ENGADGET, TECHRADAR, ANANDTECH?? FAIL.

      Sabagay. di kita dapat pinapatulan. Pangbibo ka lang ata talaga. Mukhang di ka nga ata marunong ng OWA, VDI, MED-V at app-v. Yan google mo para may alam ka naman kung ano ano ang iniimplement ng walang alam sa software engineering, sa lumia 800, at n8.

    • @galaxy s2: kahit ano pang sabihin mo, kahit isa isahin mo pa lahat ng alam mong technical terms o gadget website, di na mababago ung bobong comment mo.

      your obvious bobo comments is obviously bobo.


    • its pretty obvious that bibokid doesn’t know anything… its more fitting name for you to be called bobokId! hahaha

  11. Nokia being the smoothest phone was way… way back, a long time ago! nung panahon pa ng 3210! Ngayon eh pang sqautters na lang.

    Lumia 800? ano ba yan? sorry ha, it doesn’t ring a bell, ang sikat lang kasi sa market ngayon eh Samsung Galaxy at and super Iphone.

    The WP Mango is the smoothest smartphone OS to date??? WTFMAO! baka mag blue screen yan.

    You can take your Lumia 800 and your WP mango and stick them straight up your candy @ss!

    • dumugo ilong ko sa english mo applefanboy, o baka naman nasobrahan ka lang sa kakain ng mansanas, mongoloid ka ata cguro mag pinsan ang mga magulang mo

  12. @zigbien, wala naman kabuluhan pinagsasabi mo, palibahasa wala kang alam sa teknolohiya dahil isa kang i-skwater! yan tinagalog ko na, para maintindihan mo, laman kasi ng utak mo eh taho…

    mongoloid pala ha. Suntukan na lang tayo kung gusto mo, wakwakwakin ko ang panget mong pagmumukha! papatayin ko buong ankan mo!

  13. Marcdown999

    Selling iPhone 4s factory unlcoked for only 37.5k. Text me 09151080295.

  14. seraphica_seven

    here we go again…. haha non stop bangayan ng mga phones…..

  15. Ang tatapang ng mga tao dito ah haha. Magkita-kita nalang kaya kayo ng magkaalaman na. Palibhasa nasa internet kasi.

    Nice review.

  16. basta ako walang pambili ng iphone, ok na ko sa kakabili ko lang na xperia arc, mabilis naman, ang ganda ng screen at ang sexy “my kakaibang curve” ang xperia arc, hahaha

  17. 2007 pa ang iOS pero hanggang ngayon may no installed sim bug pa rin at sumiSiri kahit locked. You can not even rely on iOS in following your alarm because its battery dries up kahit nakastandby. The iPhone bubble is popping. Sira lang ang bibili ng phone that is ridiculously priced na more than a year old na ang aesthetic features. Obviously maraming sira. It sold millions kasi as it is the in thing. But that does not make it a good buy. 40k for a 64gb toddler phone. I can but will not buy that. The iPhone is a compilation of infringed patents kaya nagbabayad ang apple to Nokia for every phone sold.

    Sa salitang kanto, mandurugas ang apple. Dinugas ang Nokia at patuloy kayong dinudugas. Seriously, pick up any other OS and compare. Even Belle now trumps that kindergartener OS.

    Aminin, buying the iPhone is not mainly to use but to show it off. Shoshow off na lang iPhone pa. Cheap. Go Nokia (Vertu).

  18. Haaaysss… Stop the bangayan. At dun sa nag comment about “bisaya” did you know Yuga(Abe) is from the visayas and technically “Bisaya”. You hurt a lot of Visayans with that including me.

    As for Arguments sake on OS, it is rather relative. Ika nga to each his own. But before the time when mobile phones are strictly mobile phones, Nokia tops the heap because they are “mobile phone” manufacturers first and foremost.

    Now, since mobile phones are becoming more like computers, thus being categorized as “super” or “smart” phones, those that excel at manufacturing phones like these are those that actually are “computer” manufacturers. Since the war between models now are on their OS, those that excel are companies that produce OS as well, i.e. Apple iOS, Googles Android Platform, and other Linux and Windows based OS ported to a small computer we now call Super/Smart Phones.

    Nokia has a hard time catching up with the OS since they just recently delve into their OS development and has failed several times with iterations of OS from Windows, to Linux/Meego and symbian. If they concentrate on building the hardware now and slapped an Android or a similar iOS software over their phones, then it would be killer.

    All in all, to each his own talaga, dont worry about the OS and the tech stuff, just enjoy the phone that best suits your needs…

  19. kung affordable lang sana to, eto ang phone ko ngayon, dahil hindi ka budget friendly iphone 4s dito na lang ako sa sensation ko magtyatyaga :)

    • sylv3rblade

      Looking at the postpaid offers by Globe and Smart, the 4s is actually quite affordable (if you can justify the 1k+ monthly usage plan that is)

  20. Just want to ask your opinion guys. If I’m going to upgrade, and I’m thinking of either iPhone 4s or an Android phone (either S2 or Sensation). Which one is better? In my case, I haven’t tried either one of the OS’s mentioned. I don’t want to change OS’s that much, just want a good phone and stick with it for a long time. Thanks for your opinion guys.

    • devilmark

      review mo both spec. nila.. ikaw ang mkakapag sabi if anu ang preferred phone mo.. as from arc. i dnt have any idea. pro sa iphone 4s and SGS2 base on experience.. SGS2 better screens xia kc malaki.. down side lng mhirap mag kasya or sumakto sa ibang pockets and hnd k mkakapag 1handed text., compared sa iphone. sa specs mas mataas SGS2 definitely, but lagi ko cnsabi s mga post ko, wag kau masyado mag relay sa spec. lng. try using the phone first b4 making conclusions. i got my SGS2 but already sell it for 4S. pra sa akin masmadali gmitin ang iPhone, if u want more customized phone go SGS2 pro ako n ngsasabi n pwd rin i-customized ang iphone even themes. pwd bguhin.. u just need to jailbreak it. smooth OS, as for comparison iOS is the best for me. internet speed. almost same, depende sa mobile carrier ntin un. graphics, best sa SGS2 kc malaki screens pro smooth sa iPhone. free apps. SGS2 halos lahat libre pro meron din free best apps ang iOS specially mga GameLoft apps for free.. camera. mas maganda ang 4s compared sa SGS2. in my opinion lahat yan. btw. nsabi nba ng iba kng bkt mhal ang iPhone. kc some part of the iPhone manufactured by Sony(lens) LG(retina LCD) and Samsung(board) mismo ng iPhone. legal nmn lahat yan kso ng bbyad ang apple sa rights nila. so decide kana its a matter of choice. in battery performance lahat ng smartphones mahina jan at pantay2x.. its a matter of luck kng mkuha mo ung phone n best sa battery. aslong as nggmit m ung phone ng buong araw. good battery n un.

  21. Sir Abe, how you tried using the iPhone 4S served as the wifi hotspot? How was it?

    • hi bev,hope your new job is going well. this is very nice of wild orchid crtfas to offer candy,thankyou to them and you for entering it on your blog to. we have sunshine today,getting the washing out while i can. love bluebell-flowerwood.

  22. ang yayaman nyo naman ako 5800 pa ren gamit ko.pag mura na iphone 4 (maybe nxt xmas pwede na cguro) hahaha

  23. Who have tried iPhone 4S wifi hotspot capability? Is it working well?

  24. Marcdown999

    Best to pair with X mini MAX II for only 1899. Text me 09151080295.

  25. nakakatawa yung bangayan.. enjoy the review guys no need for harsh comments.. lol


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