Apple iPhone 4S
Apple iPhone 4S review: The iPhone 4S may look identical to the iPhone 4, but it boasts several improvements under the hood
- Excellent performance
- Improved 8-megapixel camera
- Siri voice assistant
- Identical design to predecessor
- Upgrading from an iPhone 4 less appealing
If you're upgrading from an iPhone 4, Apple's new iPhone 4S is best described as an evolutionary rather than revolutionary upgrade. However, for current iPhone 3G and 3GS users, or those switching from another platform, the iPhone 4S is a significant upgrade. A higher quality camera and video recorder, a faster processor, a better graphics chip, more memory options and Siri voice control make this one of the best smartphones on the market.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
iPhone 4S: Hello, my name is Siri
A feature available exclusively available on the iPhone 4S is Siri, described by Apple as an "intelligent assistant". It’s a voice assistant that lets you talk to the phone to perform tasks like asking for the weather forecast, making a calendar appointment, setting your alarm or converting currency. Siri is activated by holding down the home button on the iPhone 4S, or by simply holding the phone up towards your ear when the screen is on. Oddly, Siri is actually switched off by default, so you have to into the settings menu and turn it on.
The idea of talking to your phone may sound odd, but there are a few places where this makes sense: one of these is in the car and the other is when you're listening to music through wired headphones, just to name two examples. The benefit of Siri will depend on how and where you use it, but there is no doubt it is genuinely impressive — albeit incomplete — in action.
There are various commands Siri understands. You can tell it to call a person in your contacts, use it to send a text message or e-mail, ask it to set a reminder or calendar appointment for you or even ask it a mathematical equation. Siri can also play music on your phone by simply saying a track or artist name, set alarms and timers and check the weather forecast. One feature missing is the ability to search for businesses, addresses and directions through Google Maps: Apple says this is a US-only feature at present and will be available in Australia sometime in 2011.
Siri is far from perfect, but it's almost scary how you can interact with it as if it's another person. It has a conversational tone rather than simply sounding like regular voice commands. If you ask it personal questions, it will often reply with a witty comeback. As an example, we asked "what is the meaning of life" to which it responded with "Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live in harmony with people of all creeds and nations." To be fair, it has about three or four answers to that question, but the conversational tone and interaction remains impressive.
Perhaps the best feature of Siri is its ability to set location based reminders using the default iOS reminders app. You can set these manually, but it's actually much faster using Siri to set them. Simple phrases like "Remind me to take the bins out when I get home" or "remind me to pick up some bread when I leave work" are examples of what Siri is capable of. If Siri doesn't know something, it will perform a Google search and bring up Safari with the answer. If it does know something, it's likely to be from the WolframAlpha database: it displays results on what looks like a sheet of printed paper.
Siri is far from perfect. It often struggles with Australian pronunciation and typical Australian slang. You can't call it your mate, it doesn’t know what a shrimp on the barbie is and it often misinterprets simple statements. However, for basic tasks like sending a text message or creating a reminder it works very well. In addition to Siri, the iPhone 4S can also dictate: a small microphone button on the virtual keyboard (to the left of the space bar) allows you to speak into the phone and the software will attempt to transcribe your voice into text. It works similarly to Siri — its hit and miss at times but genuinely impressive when it works.
iPhone 4S: iOS 5 software
The Apple iPhone 4S runs the latest version of Apple's operating system, iOS 5. The latest release of iOS 5 is also available on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS, so the features aren't exclusive to the iPhone 4.
If you've used an older iPhone the experience will be familiar. It's mostly a case of more of the same for Apple, with the familiar swipeable home screen enhanced by folders, and the consistent Apple UI look and feel extending across all of the standard applications. However, there a number of new features including an overhauled notifications system, an 'iMessage' service that uses data to send free messages, PC-free synchronising, a 'Newsstand' app that encompasses magazines and newspapers, and built-in Twitter integration.
The most effective of iOS 5's new features is the notification centre. It can be accessed by swiping down from the status bar on any screen and displays a range of notifications including missed calls, voicemails, text messages, push notifications from third-party applications, and optional stock and weather ticker updates. Notifications appear as a banner on top of the screen and can be simply ignored without inhibiting on a currently open app. Notifications also appear on the lock screen and can be swiped across to access. As an example, swiping on a message notification on the lock screen will take you directly into that message in the messages app. The reminders app is also new and allows you to create a reminder based on time, date or location — very handy for remembering to pick up some bread on the way home from work, for example.
iPhone 4S: Battery life
According to Apple, the iPhone 4S has slightly improved battery life over the iPhone 4. It promises eight hours of talk on a 3G network (14 hours on 2G), six hours of 3G Web browsing, nine hours of Wi-Fi Web browsing, 10 hours of video playback and 40 hours of music playback. Strangely, the iPhone 4 had an extra hour of Wi-Fi browsing and an extra 100 hours of standby time compared to the iPhone 4S.
In our tests, we found the battery life of the iPhone 4S comparable to the iPhone 4, but not significantly better. Depending on your usage patterns, you won’t notice a major difference if you're coming from the iPhone 4 — the iPhone 4S should last you a full day in most instances, just like its predecessor did. We did notice that when connected to a Wi-Fi network for a sustained period of time, such as in the office, the iPhone 4S' battery tended to last a little longer than our iPhone 4 did.
iPhone 4S: Australian availability and pricing
The Apple iPhone 4S is sold by all three major Australian telcos: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. The iPhone 4S is also sold outright through Apple's Retail Stores and through Apple's online store. The iPhone 4S comes in 16, 32 and 64GB models with Australian pricing starting at $799 for the 16GB model. The 32GB model will set you back $899 and the 64GB version will cost $999.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Acer Swift 7
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Huawei Mate 9
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® Portable SSD
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Surface Pro 4
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Apple wins China patent battle over iPhone 6 design
- Samsung unveils Bixby voice assistant for upcoming Galaxy S8
- BlackBerry readies a more secure version of the Samsung Galaxy S7
- Android device updates: Nougat rollout begins for the Moto Z Play
- Android device updates: Nougat is coming to the Moto G4, G4 Plus
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- Subaru XV 2017 review
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- TP.Net Software DeveloperQLD
- FTSenior Network Security EngineerACT
- FTEnterprise ArchitectQLD
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistVIC
- FTLinux Systems AdministratorNZ
- FTImplementation LeadVIC
- FTPHP DeveloperNSW
- FTProduct Manager / Business Analyst Clinical Solutions (Lorenzo)QLD
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- TPDeployment Support - NSWNSW
- FTJunior Applications SupportQLD
- TPTest AnalystNSW
- FTField Hardware Deployment EngineerNSW
- FTInfrastructure EngineerNSW
- FTSCCM AdministratorACT
- FTBusiness Improvement ManagerNSW
- CCTraining Content and Delivery SpecialistNSW
- TPSQL Server Developer | 3 month contract |NSW
- FTPower BI Reporting DevelopersSA
- FTInside Sales Consultants - SMSF SoftwareNSW
- CCProject MangerWA
- FTSystems AdministratorNSW
- FTArcFM DeveloperNSW
- TPIT Service Desk AnalystVIC