Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tech Column: The iPhone 4S

by Bill Adler

Apple’s new baby has been born and I’m happy to report that it’s Magic.

I’ve been playing with the iPhone 4S for a week and with one exception, this is an amazing smartphone. First what I don’t like: the battery life is bad. Not just ho-hum bad, but really bad. So bad that complaints have been flying fast and furious on forums around the planet. I’ve read and studied and analyzed these complaints (as I have no life outside of my tech life), and I’m nearly 100 percent certain that the battery problem is a software problem and that Apple will come to rescue with an update very soon.

Other than that, the iPhone 4S is terrific. Its 8 megapixel camera takes delicious photos and even more fantastic videos. Take a look at this video of driving on I-95 that I took at night while moving at 65 miles per hour: . (I was the passenger.) And a snapshot: .

When Mr. UPS delivered my iPhone 4S I thought that Siri, the voice-aware virtual assistant, would be a gimmick or worse, something that’s complicated and frustrating to use. How handy is it to say, “Wake me tomorrow at 7am?” rather than fiddling with the phone’s alarm? Very handy. You can send text messages, emails, find out who won the Oscar for best foreign film in 1990, or even find the closest sushi restaurant by voice command alone. I asked Siri, “What is on my calendar for tomorrow?” and she responded quickly and accurately. If you’re bored or just feeling ornery, go ahead and ask Siri, “What is the meaning of life?” or “Do you love me?” Just as Apple created a revolution with touch screen keyboards, I think that with the iPhone 4S, we’re finally on our way to voice interface for computing devices.

The 4S is zippy, with an A5 dual core processor. (I’m not sure why, but I just love every opportunity to use the phrase dual core.) Apps are speedy; the entire phone is speedy.

If you’re lucky to be on AT&T (and yes, I know that one does not use “lucky” and “AT&T” often in the same sentence) you’ll find that cellular data speeds are faster than some friends’ DSL speeds, at least in Washington, DC: I consistently get download speeds in excess of 5 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up, and I’ve clocked my iPhone 4S at over 10 Mbps down and and 8 Mbps up. You can pick yourself up off the floor now. I did. Here’s a screen shot of the speed test:

The iPhone 4S is roughly the same configuration as the iPhone 4 (some of the buttons are in slightly different places), but that’s good: Your iPhone 4 case will probably fit the 4S.

Many of the iPhone 4S’ new features are a product of the new operating system, iOS 5, that can be installed on previous iPhones. I’m particularly fond of iCloud, a feature that lets you back up and restore your iPhone wirelessly. Wireless sync is now a go with the iPhone, too. Photostream automatically uploads your photos to the cloud, your PC and any other i-devices you have. You never have to connect your iPhone to a PC again.

There have been grumblings that this “isn’t the iPhone 5.” I think it is. The camera, the cellular speed, the responsiveness of the phone make the latest iPhone feel like it’s a part of you, not just something you carry in your pocket.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv. He is the author of Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets.

No comments:

Post a Comment