Monday, October 24, 2011

iPhone 4S Review
When I first announced my intent to buy an iPhone 4S, some friends asked for a review. After a week of playing with it, here it is.

Historically Speaking...
As a reminder, my previous phone was the iPhone 3G, NOT the 3GS, 3G. In terms of smart phone lifespans, mine was a dinosaur. I actually stopped downloading apps because the new ones were too advanced, would completely grind my phone to a halt, and could only be fixed by doing a restart - a process that took 10 minutes to complete. So, I was ready for the upgrade.

Features I Love

Faster: Remember, I'm biased coming from the 3G. Still, this phone is fast. I tap, it opens. No thinking. No waiting. I love it.

Camera: FANTASTIC. I can now take a picture, use it as a wallpaper on my desktop, and it doesn't look pixelated. AWESOME. I also like the camera button also acts on the volume up button... wait... reverse that. It doesn't replace my Canon SLR yet, but I won't be bringing it along anymore for "regular" trips. This phone is all I need.

Game Apps: Again, 3G user here. I started playing Infinity Blade because a friend bought it for me. After playing for 15 minutes I easily came to the conclusion that Nintendo's DS is in trouble. The graphics are AMAZING, the gameplay actually complex, and all at a reasonable price. I love Nintendo and my original Gameboy, but I will never buy a DS.

WiFi Sync: I used to regularly sync my 3G. It helped that I worked from home, so it wasn't too inconvenient, but it was an effort to remember. Now, I get this kick out of plugging in my phone and watching the little rotating arrows indicating that my phone is syncing. More importantly, Jessi NEVER sync'd her phone. Now her's syncs every night too. This is good, very good.

Siri: Ah yes, the sassy assistant. Here's what I've determined. Siri is genuinely useful while driving. I'm sure the other drivers appreciate it too. Speaking text messages is easier than typing, though not always faster. However, I don't like that I'm not allowed to take a break when speaking to Siri because she/it (?) thinks I'm done and starts processing what I said, but I'll eventually adjust. I also think it was absolutely BRILLIANT to make Siri sassy and include pop-culture references. That sass is EXACTLY what will keep people talking about and that sharing of Siri's sass is going to sell MILLIONS of phones. See my previous post if you don't believe me.

Good Features, but not life-changing

Notifications: I tend to turn off notifications on my phone so they were never really a problem for me. I realize I'm in the minority on this one, but I really don't need to know about every new email, every single football game score, when games release new features, or when someone leaves me a comment on Facebook. Furthermore, and this actually bugs me, just because I clear a notification in my Notification Center, it doesn't necessarily mean that the little badge disappears (thankfully it does work the other way... most of the time).

Twitter Integration: This isn't life changing since I've been tweeting from my phone for a while. But here's what happened: I used to tweet using SMS, and I would add Facebook and Google+. Over the last week, I didn't use the SMS option once. Instead I used some version of the built in function (like tweeting right from a photo). Here's the kicker: after I tweeted, I did NOT go back and do the same for Facebook or Google+. It was just too much effort. We'll see if that changes over time, but in the short-term it's a HUGE win for Twitter.

iMessage: Since I have unlimited texting, I never really saw a difference. However, the ability to see if the message was read is a nice addition. I also noticed that messages tend to send MUCH faster. I'm not sure why, but I like it.

iCloud: I managed my email, calendar, and contacts via Google. All my docs with Dropbox. Todo list with Remember The Milk. So the only things iCloud is in charge of is Bookmarks, Photos and backups. I'm sure if it managed all the other things it would be fantastic, but for now it's nice to not need to think about syncing those.

Features I'm finally happy to have (aka New To Me, Old To iOS)
Since I only had the 3G I was elated to get a few "old" features:
  • Multitasking
  • The Retina Display: Sometimes I just sit and stare at the screen in disbelief
  • FaceTime: already used it a bunch of times this week, much better than my computer
  • GameCenter
  • A real video camera: which is awesome
  • Did I mention a speed boost already?
  • A front facing camera: I'll admit that I used it once as a mirror (I'm so vain!)

Honorable Mention
  • Reading List: Think of it as a temporary bookmark. I've used it and the device syncing is nice.
  • Custom vibrations: More fun than actually useful. What I really want to know is how to turn off vibrations for text messages.

New Phone, Old AT&T
The one and only downside to my phone is the carrier. Despite Apply playing up some new antenna sorcery, I still drop calls. I dropped 2 this week while in work meetings. I don't get it. Sometimes I'll go weeks without an issue, sometimes I'll drop 5 calls in a single day. The only difference is that with my old phone it would start to go fuzzy and break up before dropping - usually giving me time to warn the other person and call back. On the iPhone 4S call quality is excellent right up to the drop. So... that's better, right?


  1. Furlodm8:54 PM

    Thanks, I up for getting the new one.  Unfortuntely, I have to wait a year. 

  2. jamesfurlo9:11 AM

    I understand. The 4 is still good once you update to iOS 5 because you'll get most of the features I talked about. Besides, the iPhone 5 is "supposed to be off the hook amazing"... again... :)