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SpecTech Review: The iPhone 4S

This week I will review one of the most talked about and best-selling phones—the iPhone 4S.

It has been reported that the iPhone 4S sold over 4 million units during its launch weekend, which isn’t surprising since it is available on two new networks at launch. All Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T stores in Valdosta were sold out when I asked them. Apple is even requesting that people preorder the phone at least a day before they are planning on purchasing the new device. They are still taking orders though.

I reviewed the AT&T model of the iPhone 4S. The design is still as slick and clean as the original iPhone 4. The phone is still light weight and feels nice in the hand. The only complaint I had is that the new antenna hurt after holding it for about an hour, but I doubt anyone will hold the device like I was in daily use.

The new model was very fast! I did not have an iPhone 4 available for a speed test, but I could feel that it was faster than the original iPhone 4—not dramatically faster, but faster nonetheless. I did perform a test on the antenna spot where people would lose some signal on the original iPhone 4. This is not the case anymore; I did lose a bar of Wi-Fi on occasion while it was covered, but that only happened about three times out of the twenty or so times that I tested.

An 8 megapixel camera is now in the iPhone for the first time. I will say my expectations were not high, but it does take some amazing photos! When I took a photo of my face I was very surprised to see all the hairs on my face so defined. It is a very nice “point-and-shoot” camera. The HD video also looks great.

My only complaint with the hardware is that the screen is still 3.5 inches; Apple’s iPhone is starting to feel more cramped with all these large competitive phones coming out. When using the device, I immediately noticed that it was a small screen; hopefully the next iPhone will fix this.

The new operating system, iOS 5.0, looked very nice on the new phone, feeling more like Android, while still looking like an Apple product. Notifications now can either pop up like normal or appear at the top of the screen. To see all of your notifications you simply have to touch the top of the screen and pull down. iOS 5.0 is available for most current iOS devices.

The phone has over 200 new features, including a “Find My Friends” app, allowing you to locate your friends on a map. Another feature is the “iMessage” app which allows you to send a free text message to any user with an iDevice running iOS 5.0.

The most talked about new feature, only available on the iPhone 4S, is Siri, voice command system built right into the phone.

To active Siri, hold down the home button until a microphone appears. You can command and ask Siri virtually anything. It was easy to give her a command, but I tested how specific one must be when asking Siri questions.

Simply saying “Tokyo” resulted in Siri pulling up a nearby store called Tokyo Wigs. If I asked her to “Google search Tokyo”, she sent me to Google with the results. In another test, I asked, “Japanese Cuisine, Google search.” Again, Siri sent me to Google with the results, which is what I wanted.

Siri is not perfect though. I asked Siri several questions about phones, mainly their size. She was able to tell me the size of every iPhone, but wanted me to Google search any other phone. Siri cannot redial numbers or be used during a call—which makes some sense. She is also unable at this time to search the App Store, which I am surprised at.

Siri does not remember any question except the one just previously asked. After asking her to read a message, I asked her a math question. Then I told her to “read the message to me again.” She had no idea what message as she asked if I wanted to create a message.

I was also able to create three meetings on the same day and at the same time. I tried it on the model next to it and it would not let me. I do not know why the first iPhone 4S did this, but it should not happen.

After the important tests, I decided to have some fun with Siri, as I imagine most people will.

I asked, “What is the meaning of life?”

She replied, “All evidence to date suggests its chocolate.” Her answers to this question varied every time I asked it.

I asked, “Can I please throw you across the room and see if you break?” She then presented me with the 18 nearest hotels in Valdosta. I guess “room” was a keyword.

Last, I asked “Do you have a boyfriend?” She then proceeded to tell me that she could not find any dating services for me. My self-esteem plummeted!

What good is a phone if you cannot talk on it though?

On AT&T’s network it did not stand out as a great sounding phone. I could hear my caller fine, but it sounded a little nasally. As for how I sounded to the caller, they agreed that I too sounded nasally. To be fair it was loud in the store. It was good service, it wasn’t the best.

My verdict on the iPhone 4S was better than I wanted it to be. I do like this phone, but I like other phones better. It is difficult to give this phone a rating. I will give it 9 out of 10 but I will only recommend this to certain people!

If you need a new smart phone or have an iPhone 3G or the first iPhone, I would buy this phone. For everyone who owns an iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS, I would not break your 2-year contract since your phone can do 97% of what the new iPhone can do. If you can wait for a newer iPhone, that would be the best option.

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