I don’t have an iPhone 4S yet, so I’ve been reading the first round of reviews from folks who got them ahead of the handset’s release this Friday. I don’t see any stunning conclusions. Everybody likes the phone either a lot or a lot, everybody’s impressed by the Siri voice assistant and likes the improved camera, and nobody’s overly traumatized by the fact that the case design hasn’t changed. As per Hallowed Technologizer Tradition, let’s look at the final paragraph (or two) of some of the reviews, which is the place where most reviewers finally tell you what they really think.
The iPhone 4S is one of Apple’s less dramatic updates, but, when combined with the Siri, iOS 5 and iCloud features, it presents an attractive new offering to smartphone users. Some may be content to skip the new hardware and just enjoy the software and cloud features with older models. But those buying the phone will likely be happy with it.
The question isn’t what’s in a name — it’s what’s in a phone. And the answer is: “A lot of amazing technology. And some of it feels like magic.”
Apple concedes that Siri isn’t a finished product; she is in beta. But even with her blemishes, Siri is pretty darn cool. And she helps make the iPhone 4S pretty darn cool, too.
In the end, the iPhone 4S follows Apple’s recent trajectory of iPhone releases: It’s an object of some appeal to people who last upgraded their phones a year ago, and over the next year a great many of them will find it worthwhile to upgrade to the iPhone 4S. But to all those people who’ve been hanging on to their iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS, the wait is over: It’s time to upgrade without any hesitation whatsoever. The iPhone 4S has speed, a great camera, some cool voice-recognition features, and the same beautiful industrial design that was introduced in the iPhone 4. It’s destined to be immensely popular. The S, in this case, seems to stand for “sure thing.”
Joshua Topolsky, This is My Next
Is this the best phone ever made? That’s debatable. But I can tell you this: the iPhone 4S is pretty damn cool.
I’m happy that Apple decided not to change the form factor even though they had to know there would be some backlash from a certain segment of the population (read: idiots). Instead, Apple focused on the other thing they do best: refining already great products to make them better. The iPhone 4 was a great product. The best smartphone ever made. Now it cedes that title to the iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 4 was my favorite product that Apple has ever made. The iPhone 4S has all the best features of the iPhone 4 — same look, same feel, same Retina Display — and adds several significant improvements.
Once again Apple is taking a lead and asking a lot of its competitors. I wish those competitors luck, for the better all smartphones are, the happier I am. If Steve Jobs’s true legacy is that the devices every other company makes are so, so much better than they otherwise would have been, I don’t think he would mind one bit.
There will undoubtedly be smartphones with faster processors, or more megapixels to their cameras, or high-speed 4G connectivity, or bigger, better resolution displays, but it’s difficult to imagine any of them competing with the joined-up ecosystem Apple now offers. Challenging the iPhone isn’t just about creating one single, better smartphone, but a portfolio of consistent products and services. The iPhone 4S may look the same as before, but it arguably represents just as much of a shift in the industry as the original iPhone ever did.
Brian X .Chen, Wired (Brian waxes philosophical in his final paragraph, so I’m including his next-to-last one, too)
The iPhone 4S looks exactly the same as its predecessor — but who cares? If it was shaped even slightly differently or came in a new color, people would still go nuts over the stuff that’s more important anyway: the insides. And both inside and out, this is a magnificent smartphone.
The late Steve Jobs once called the computer the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds. I think of the smartphone as the rocket ship for our minds. With increasingly powerful sensors and technologies, and access to hundreds of thousands of apps enabling us to do just about anything, the iPhone keeps soaring to incredible heights and taking us to places with limitless potential. I guess that’s what you have to do to create a ding in the universe.
Jim Dalrymple, The Loop (Jim, have two short paragraphs, won’t you?)
You can look at each of the items that Apple will release in conjunction with the iPhone and be amazed with how innovative all of them are.
When you put them all together in one product like the iPhone 4S, you have an incredibly successful product that other companies just can’t compete with.
I wonder if these will calm down folks who think that the iPhone 4S is a disappointment? Stay tuned for more reviews to come–including mine.