iPhone 4S review

I have been due an upgrade since September, and have been holding on and waiting for the new phone… and it finally arrived on 14th October!

Unfortunately I was up in London for a 30th birthday, with no way of getting to a phone shop, never mind getting there earlier enough to queue and get in line for a phone, so I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably have to wait until the new stock was in.

But, no, I managed to upgrade and order a new phone online, about a week later through Carphone Warehouse – joy! It arrived the following Monday, and now I have had it for a week, it’s time for a review…

Compared to the 3GS – my old phone, there are quite a few new features. Firstly it is a hell of a lot quicker. It’s also bigger, I have gone from 16GB to 32GB and I can easily fit all of the music, podcasts, TV/film and photos that I need for everyday use. With room to spare. I like to sync my phone regularly, updating podcasts and films/TV etc. as well as only carrying a few photos around with me, so the extra space is wonderful – I have gone from being right up to capacity all the time, to having room to spare. And the phone is a lot quicker. So far, no crashes, and everything seems to be working pretty quickly and smoothly.

It’s ever so slightly smaller and around the same weight as the 3GS, but it feels more substantial as there is more aluminium and glass rather than plastic. My 3GS got very scratched and cracked on the back, and around the headphone jack and the socket for the charger, the plastic chipped and cracked very badly. I can’t see that happening with this phone!

The video and camera are much better, going from 3 Megapixels to 8, and from 480p to 1080p. To be honest, we have DSLR’s so we don’t tend to use the phone cameras for much other than snaps on night’s out, or quick “hey look at this” emails and messages. But, this may change, and I may use this instead of my compact, as with the addition of the LED flash, it is much better! I don’t do a lot of video, but I will probably use it more now, as the quality is fantastic. The high-resolution Retina display is great too, making watching videos a joy. I watch a lot of videos on my phone whilst commuting , and the new display has improved this immensely.

I use bluetooth headphones as I run a lot, and I’ve found that this still drains the battery quite a bit. It’s not much better than the 3GS on battery, but as long as it lasts a day, I’m happy. I tend to plug my phone in most nights anyway, but I’m concerned that it may get worse.

I now have video calling, but meh, I never really use this. It’s a novelty for me and Gareth as he has an iPhone 4, but unless we are away in different places, which doesn’t happen often, I’ll probably not use this. Same with the iCloud – I haven’t even set this up yet… although I am sure that once it’s set up I’ll find it more useful than I think.

iMessage and the twitter integration are great. I use twitter a lot, and being able to post things to twitter much more easily is great. Photos in particular, which was one of my bugbears before. iMessage is handy, although I do have unlimited text messages anyway…

I found the notification centre by accident, and it looks pretty good. It’s a nice little overview, which is helpful when you’re in a rush or if you have had a lot of messages, tweets and notifications in a small space of time. Looks good, and I think I’ll grow to use this an awful lot.

I’ve started using the reminders, which work well, and as an avid list maker and productivity app addict, I do love it. I haven’t tried a location based reminder yet, but the time based ones have worked fine.

I have tried Newstand, but I don’t like it. I don’t think the iPhone is big enough to read a magazine from, it’s messy, having to scroll over the page, where usually you would skim your eyes – perhaps this works better on an iPad, but not on the phone. I don’t like reading from the phone anyway, I have tried reading books but found the screen is too bright, and it’s just not comfortable. I am a huge book fan, and I think it will be a while before I swap to a kindle/e-book reader. I’m sure some people will find this great, but it’s not for me.

Finally, there is Siri. The main feature of the new phone.

As a novelty it’s great. I have found websites telling you questions to ask to get funny answers, and I think I have found most of them now, and spent a few hours entertaining family and friends with siri calling me “awesome master”, and talking back. But is it actually useful? And any good?

Well, it seems to recognise most of what I say. It has a few problems here and there with unusual names (my surname – Eydmann for example, but then so do most human beings) and it struggled slightly with Gareth’s faint Welsh accent, but after a while it seems to have picked it up fine.

Actually using it to do things on the phone works surprisingly well. I have successfully sent texts, rang people and controlled the iPod, and it’s very intuitive. I imagine it’s going to be handy in the car (I haven’t tried it yet) and it’s been useful whilst working to stop and talk to it, rather than having to stop everything and write things down as I think of them. In it’s first iteration, it’s great, which bodes well, as it will only get better!

All in all, I am impressed, and glad I waited for the 4S rather than going for the 4. I got it for £80 on a 2 year contract, and I’m not sure if I would have paid the full £600 for it, but I think I got a bargain!

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