Print 37 comment(s) - last by Cheesew1z69.. on Oct 16 at 3:28 PM

More of the same... sorta...

Apple's iPhone 4S was announced last Tuesday, pre-orders started up last Friday, and the smartphones should start arriving at retail stores (and customer doors for those that pre-ordered) by on Friday. Although some Apple fanatics, Apple critics, and industry-folk were underwhelmed with the iPhone 4S, Apple still managed to break sales records by racking up over one million pre-orders in just 24 hours.
Now that the initial buzz is over, the next phase begins with the actual reviews. AnandTech already posted up a handful of benchmarks show the iPhone 4S near the top of the charts in CPU and GPU benchmarks, and the full-blown reviews are just now rolling in for the smartphone.
For those that need a refresher on the iPhone 4S, it features a dual-core A5 processor (like its larger iPad 2 sibling), an 8MP rear-facing camera with 1080p recording capabilities, Siri voice recognition technology, and 14.4Mbps HSDPA support. It also of course is the poster child for iOS 5.

The iPhone 4S is available in 16GB ($199), 32GB ($299), and 64GB ($399) capacities.
Joshua Topolsky of The Verge talks about the iPhone 4S' new camera
The sensor is not only larger on the new iPhone, but Apple has further tweaked the optics to deliver better results, even in low-light settings. The company has updated the backside illumination sensor, added a fifth lens element, and increased the aperture to f/2.4 — all of which sounds more interesting if you’re a camera fanatic. Even if you’re not, however, the improvements are obvious the second you start snapping pictures.
The iPhone 4S took some of the nicest, cleanest photos I’ve ever seen from a mobile device. If you’ve ever thought about using a phone as a replacement for your point and shoot, feel free to start taking that concept seriously. The 4S produced crisp, balanced, colorful photos that were surprisingly low-noise and never over-saturated. The iPhone 4 sometimes seemed to be compensating for its limitations by exaggerating colors, but the iPhone 4S looks and feels like a real camera capturing true images.
A sample image taken from the iPhone 4S  [Source: Apple]

Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD gives us the lowdown on Siri:
Siri can find information in Wikipedia, Yelp and Wolfram Alpha. It successfully answered when I asked it, “Who’s the president of Iran?” (though it misunderstood me the first time) and “Who stars in ‘Boardwalk Empire?’ ” When I asked for a “French restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland,” it instantly returned a list from Yelp, ranked by user reviews.
In my tests, I was able to dictate emails and text messages, even in the car over Bluetooth, without looking at the screen. Accuracy wasn’t perfect—about 20% of the time I had to try twice to get all the words correct. But, in most cases, Siri didn’t make more errors than I do typing on a virtual keyboard...
The system understands multiple, colloquial forms of a question. I asked, “Will the weather get worse today?” and Siri answered, “I don’t think the weather is going to get worse” and displayed a weather chart. You can check stock prices, addresses, map directions and much more. It also answers in a friendly fashion, saying things like “Coming right up” or “I’m not sure what you said, Walt.” And it has some cute answers built in. When I asked it “What’s the best phone?” it said, “Wait… there are other phones?”

Jason Snell of Macworld discusses the performance increases courtesy of the A5 processor:
The results of my general-performance tests showed the iPhone 4S to be between roughly twice as fast as the iPhone 4. Apple claims graphics performance on the iPhone 4S has been boosted even more by the graphics component of the A5, with speed gains of as much as 7x. That’s a best-case scenario, but my tests with the GLBench Pro graphics benchmarking app did show enhanced graphics performance. One 3D test sequence played at roughly five times the frame rate of the same scene on the iPhone 4; another was roughly double the frame rate.
Of course, many people won’t be upgrading to the iPhone 4S from the iPhone 4, due to those pesky two-year phone contracts that cell carriers insist on. But a whole lot of people will be upgrading from two-year-old iPhone 3GSes. 3GS users will see an even larger speed increase, of course. The 4S had more than double the score on the GeekBench testing app, and loaded a test webpage in a third of the time.

And finally, MG Siegler of Tech Crunch talks about the new features in iOS that Android and webOS users have been enjoying for ages:
The best addition to iOS 5 is the revamped Notifications system. Yes, it’s a bit like the system that Android and webOS have had for a while, but once again, Apple took their time to make sure they did this right. Gone are the annoying blue pop-ups that would get lost when another notification came in. Now you have a full-on notification center to keep track of everything you miss when you’re away from your phone or simply not in the mood to check it. Again, having used it for a few months now, I’m spoiled. There is no way I could go back to the old system…
But the biggest change of iOS 5 may be that you can now setup and manage your iOS device without having to use a PC or a Mac at all. When you boot up a new device, a short tutorial walks you through how to enable the services you wish to use, and activate your phone. It’s quick and painless.
You can also now use iCloud to back up your phone and for the don’t-call-it-syncing of your data. iTunes in the Cloud and Photo Stream are great additions for people who simply do not want to manage content through the iTunes desktop software. Apple comes closer to an “it just works” system than anything I’ve seen previously. Regular people will be able to use this.
The iPhone 4S is definitely a step up for those that are still clinging to an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS according to the reviews, but those that are using an iPhone 4 probably won't see much reason to upgrade. Also, the lack of a larger screen or faster connectivity options like LTE aren't going to win over anyone that is firmly entrenched in the Android camp.
As Apple's early pre-order numbers show, the iPhone "brand" is still a force to be reckoned with -- we'll just have to keep our eyes peeled to see how the sales numbers for the iPhone 4S hold out in the long-term.

Sources: The Verge, AllThingsD, TechCrunch, AnandTech

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RE: So in other words...
By TakinYourPoints on 10/12/2011 1:31:45 AM , Rating: 2
Yup. Even with the increased GPU performance it'll take a little while for developers to really take advantage of it. Games like Infinity Blade and RAGE still look great on the iPhone 4. By the time the iPhone 5 comes out I'll be ready, until then the 4 is plenty fast. Siri is cool but I can wait.

The GPU benchmarks are ridiculous btw:

For anyone with a 3GS or jumping over from Android or Blackberry, this is perfect. I'm just glad that my smartphone upgrade cycle is now about as long as it is with my PC, two years. That's plenty, annual upgrades on smartphones are ridiculous.

RE: So in other words...
By Tony Swash on 10/12/2011 6:20:53 AM , Rating: 1
It seems clear that with the tick tock bi- annual upgrades Apple is positioning each year's upgrade to not destroy the value of the previous year's model but to make upgrading from a two year old phone (whose contract is expiring) very attractive.

Like millions of others I have a 3gs and the 4s looks like a great upgrade to me.

Siri looks intriguing, already useful, and has bags of potential. It's the begining of what comes after touch.

RE: So in other words...
By nafhan on 10/12/2011 9:17:40 AM , Rating: 2
It's the begining of what comes after touch.
Not really. I'd say that if both are done well, touch and voice input make a great combination by making up for each others shortcomings. There's a lot of things that touch input just isn't good for (basically anything that requires a lot of data entry). Likewise, voice input kind of sucks for manipulating onscreen items that aren't easily expressed in spoken language (i.e. selecting a hyperlink attached to a picture on a web page, creating a selection in Photoshop, most games). I think we'll be "stuck" with increasingly sophisticated versions of touch + voice control for a number of years.

RE: So in other words...
By Tony Swash on 10/12/2011 10:36:48 AM , Rating: 1
I agree.

It seems to me that what used to be called WIMP (Windows, Icons, Mouse) interface lasted a very long time and then we got touch which only went mainstream recently with the first iPhone and now we have Siri.

The thing about using voice to interact with kit is that just recognising words is not enough and other than straight dictation it is too cumbersome to actually manipulate OS objects and functions - what is needed is AI and Siri shows that that is coming.

Apple has a history of introducing stuff that starts with a modest set of functions but which works very well and then iterating it and adding function as and when the quality of the new function is up to scratch. So I expect Siri to evolve. It's an intriguing prospect.

RE: So in other words...
By nafhan on 10/12/2011 1:54:52 PM , Rating: 2
The thing about using voice to interact with kit is that just recognising words is not enough and other than straight dictation it is too cumbersome to actually manipulate OS objects and functions - what is needed is AI and Siri shows that that is coming.
I think you're talking about natural language processing. It's actually a separate issue from voice recognition, as NLP applies to language in general. Essentially, voice recognition would feed into NLP, which would then turn the natural language into something the computer can make sense of. I wonder if Apple will open up the NLP API's to text input? That would be interesting...

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