The latest iPhone was treated with a lukewarm reception, primarily due to the fact that it took more than a year to be announced and that it did not feature an all new design. However, Apple does have a way of launching their products and even though the iPhone 4S did not receive a design upgrade; it has still managed to generate high sales figures across the globe, much more than what was initially expected. Airtel, one of the two official carriers launched the Apple iPhone 4S in India with a midnight launch on the 25th of November, 2011 and we got to play around with the new device for a bit. Here’s a quick hands on preview.
Can you tell which is which?
Seems like Apple is of the opinion - If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So, with this new device, Apple has retained the design of the Apple iPhone 4. Everything from the button placements, dual mics for noise cancellation and dimensions are the same. The weight has gone up a bit, though from 137g to 140g, not enough to complain. The 4S also has an 8 megapixel autofocus/Touchfocus camera strapped onto its rear with an LED flash. Even though Apple has not changed the design, there’s no denying the fact that this is still one of the better looking smartphones available in the market today.
The most outstanding feature, however, of the iPhone 4S is Siri, the voice recognition assistant that allows one to ask the handset questions and it will reply back with “appropriate” answers. Artificial intelligence that comes into play here and this is the stuff that was found only in movies. Yes, Siri does work in India, however, it doesn’t yet support location-based services such as finding a restaurant, theatre, etc. Everything else works fine. A minor issue we faced with it was that for Siri to work, one has to speak slowly and enunciate each word clearly. Siri is still in its beta phase and the final version is set to come out sometime next year.
Siri works here
Apple hasn’t stopped there in bumping up the internal specifications and has added an Apple A5 chipset, the same found on the iPad 2, along with a dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU. The 1GHz Dual Core processor adds a little more “oomph” to an already powerful device. With these incorporations into the hardware, one can expect above average performances from the handset. Like the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S also features a Retina Display, measuring 3.5-inches that sports a resolution of 640 x 960 pixels.
The iPhone 4S comes with iOS 5 out of the box, this is the latest major firmware upgrade from Apple. All features of the iOS remain the same across all iOS devices, which does not make the iPhone 4S any better (operating system-wise) than any other iDevice available.
We had the opportunity to play a couple of high-end games like the new Infinity Blade on the iPhone 4S, and noticed a considerably better performance as compared to an iPhone 4. The graphics, during gameplay, appeared a lot better and while swiping the sword, the sparks appeared sharper and more detailed. Due to the dual-core processor and improved GPU, developers have the liberty of bumping up the eye candy for their games.
Mobile gaming just got a little better?
Another major improvement of the iPhone 4S over the iPhone 4 is the camera on the former, which has been upped to 8 Megapixels now. We clicked a couple of pictures with the handset and saw a significant difference in image quality as compared with the iPhone 4. Images looked a lot crisper. Apart from this, an advantage the latest phone has over its predecessor is that it can record videos in 1080p @30fps (full HD). Apple has also added Airplay mirroring to this device, so one can view content on a large screen or HDTV.
The iPhone 4S is a great device and it does have tremendous potential performance-wise. The fact that Siri works in India is a definite bonus, but the question of it being able to recognize our multitude of accents and languages is what we’ll need to test. The only thing that actually put us off about the handset is its price - with the base model starting at Rs.44,900. Not that Apple seems concerned about sales at all, but had it been slightly better priced, the figures would have been a whole lot larger.
Out of the box
Rounding it up, apart from Siri, a faster processor and the 8MP camera, one may not notice any other significant difference between the old and the new iPhone. It may, however, sell to those who are Apple loyalists and it was the last handset unveiled before the death of Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs. On the other hand, with a steep price and the next generation device, the iPhone 5, supposedly set to be unveiled mid next year, it could pose a hindrance.