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. iphone and IOS is the best hardware and software combination since twenty first century. love the updates and technical support of apple.
    Napaka advance ng hardware ang software ng IPHONE, fantastic design, almost no worn out, Good battery life even in multitasking, the accesibility for the disable, best graphics ever, the camera, Best for navigation use, built-in ipod that most of us really admired, Cloud storage, SMOOTHEST TOUCHSCREEN EVER, Love the interoperability between OS’s , advancement in noise cancellation , Many more!..


  2. Hottie paul

    iphone and IOS is the best hardware and software combination since twenty first century. love the updates and technical support of apple.
    Napaka advance ng hardware ang software ng IPHONE, fantastic design, almost no worn out, Good battery life even in multitasking, the accesibility for the disable, best graphics ever, the camera, Best for navigation use, built-in ipod that most of us really admired, Cloud storage, SMOOTHEST TOUCHSCREEN EVER, Love the interoperability between OS’s , advancement in noise cancellation , Many more!..


  3. ^
    (another bigot.)

    you can’t stop people from comparing. if you want an iPhone then get one. it’s your choice, bigot. if people want to hate iPhone/iOS, let them. it’s their choice to make, not yours.

  4. Accept the FACT. iPhone is NOT for everyone.

  5. Comparing to 3gs and 4 it better in terms of hardware specs. But you can still upgrade your 3gs and 4 to ios 5 but without sri which is expensive to use while you are on mobile. If you guys still want it cheap. 3gs still has it all on a very cheap price ( easy jailbreak and openline but dontnhave a good camera) or wait for iphone 5

  6. I am not at all impressed by the Apple iPhone 4S. The Samsung Galaxy S2 is still a lot better in terms of specifications. Read my review here –

    • yah yah S2 is like having a ferrari motor on a slim pedicab… Generic OS, plastic, unutilized hardware, dumbphone and unclassy feel… nuf said

  7. I am not at all impressed by the specifications of the Apple iPhone 4S! The Samsung Galaxy S2 blows it away. Read my review here –

  8. ^ yah yah S2 is like having a ferrari motor on a slim pedicab… Generic OS, plastic, unutilized hardware, dumbphone and unclassy feel… nuf said

    • galaxy s2

      Si boi_fan ang yabang di pa naman nakasakay ng ferrari. Same goes to his analogy. Di ka pa siguro nakagamit ng s2 para masabi mo yan. And truth be told, kitang kita na he’s after the “looks” rather than what’s inside.

      Parang asawa lang yan. Pag di mo tinignan yung “what’s inside” eh hanggang 3-5 years ka lang. Not unlike sa not so beautiful but “full-of-insides” (sorry for the term. lol)eh tatagal yan.

      Kagaya nga ng sinabi ko previously, if you want to have experience the “premium feel” why not buy aluminum foil and hold it all day long to experinece your so-called “premium feel”

  9. Sabino II

    Best Camera phone ehhh??? How about theNokia N8? Ahhh iPhone 4 abd 4s are the queen but still the NOKIA N8 is THE KING OF CANERA PHONE!!! Can iPhone beat the 12 megapixel camera with high end Carl Zeiss Optics? HuuHHH? Live with your ignorance and the rest will follow.Time to change since Apple is cught up with their biggest secret, ANDROID for EVERYONE!!!

    • sir, fyi. camera of the iphone is made by Sony. Carl zeiss lens is developed by Sony. the author is an experienced professional photographer.

  10. iPhone 4s’ browser is faster than SGSII’s, camera same 8MP, but I like the glossy finish of iPhone compared to plastic back case of the Galaxy. And finally iOS compared to Android, hmm App Store compared to Android Market. I’ll go for Apple. Plus the bonus SIRI on 4S.

  11. Hi Abe, are you also encountering battery life issues on your iPhone 4S? currently I’m getting max 6 hours of usage and 18 hours standby…

  12. Kolokoy Me

    Grabe! How ignorant the author is… Kinompare ba naman ang camera ng iPhone sa N8.. baka naman hindi pa to nakakahawak ng n8? @_@ lumabas na din pagka-bias ng yugatech hahaha! buti pa ang tech pinas! :)No bias. Always honest and fair reviews!

    • oi bolokoy! nagbasa ka ba? hindi naman kinompare ng author ung sobrang gandang iphone sa bulok at walang kakwentakwentang n8 ah…

      sobra naman yang katangahan at kabobohan mo, ipatingin mo na yan utak mo.

    • Barubal

      Kaw yata ang boplaks dito. San mo nabasa ang N8 sa review???

      At pinagyabang mo pa ang techpanis mo e yan yun nagpapabayad para mag sulat at mag review.

      Tanungin mo nga kung ano binayad kay techpinas mo nina Nokia, LG, MSI-ECS, Nokia at HTC para sa glowing reviews???

      Wag ka magyabang dito at supalpal ka lang.

  13. hi! For me iphone4s is an amissing iphone yet because of its new features in the system. How ever we have our own different of how we use our phones at the moment ios is the best mobile system than android so if you like a better expirience auy the iphone. But if you like the much high end phones go to android phones

  14. Hello,

    is there an existing issue still with the battery of the iphone? Sir yuga hows the battery life of your iphone

  15. Hi iPhone fanatics.
    I just have a question about the factory unlocked version of the iPhone 4s. Do I need a microsim to activate/use it? or I can just use any prepaid sim here in the PH. Thanks in advance for your response!

  16. yugatech was great…i think if i phone 4s is free wala kayo masasabi na negative comment about it…nagiipon nga ako para maka-avail nun sinisiraan nyo naman…

  17. Ive used iphone 4s as well however my current active phone is dell streak 5 due to its huge screen. I agree with the author as i find the ip4s’ screen to be really small coming from a 5 incher. However, i disagree with him in terms of the camera. Yes it is quite excellent comparing it from ip4 however, its not the best one out there. definitely not for low light (since our house lacks lighting, i can easily feel the difference). I also own an s95 and that’s quite irreplaceable honestly speaking. sorry if i had to clear that up, some readers might expect the ip4s cam to be that good on how the author described it (like a replaceable s95). to clarify, good with appropriate lighting but not with low light. maybe if apple will put a xenon flash on it, then ill back off haha Good review dear author. Quite objective. I disagree that he’s biased Mr. Kolokoy. There is no room for incorrect judgment here sweetie.

  18. nakakatawa mgbasa ng mga comments. :)Parang network wars ah..well,I have an iphone jailbroken, so far so good int terms of communications. To all iPhonatics, Samsunatics and nokianatics let us all respect each others opinion ‘coz we are all entitled with it. Every gadget has its pros and cons. All smartphone brands are all great and not so great in their own way. peace:)

  19. hi sir, i’m really torn between the two.kasi while browsing, may nakita akong iphone na may “1 year sevice warranty’ at yung isa, “1 year official warranty”. dba pag official warranty is 1 YEAR WARRANTY AT AUTHORIZED SERVICE CENTERS.. so alin yung maganda bilhin? yung may service or official warranty?

  20. Guys, ito ang proof kung sino ang may sinasabi pagdating sa camera, Iphone4 vs N8.
    Read the (Bird’s eye view!).

  21. Hi Yuga,
    I have almost resigned to the idea of having to get an iPhone 4s primarily because I expect it to automatically and seamlessly synchronize my schedule and contacts with my MacBook Air & iPad 2 just like how it is between my two devices. I always add appointments and new contacts either in the MacBook or iPad but I must not miss these updates on the phone. I good camera is also desired.
    What are my options?
    Thanks & more power,

  22. hello sir yuga, is there an issue with iphone battery

  23. so,magkano ito??

  24. Mas maganda pa din ang Nokia 3310. Simple lang at afford ng EVERYONE.

  25. hoy KOLOKOY! kapantay lang ng nokia ang CHERRY MOBILE at MYPHONE hak hak hak … kaya dapat sa mga NOKIANS ay mahimlay na hik hik hik


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