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My Apologies

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

So my workload really ramped up after my last posts, and I haven’t been able to deliver what I’d originally promised. I’ll probably be making a couple posts over the next day or two to try to cover some lost ground.

iPhone

The iPhone event a couple weeks ago brought the iPhone 4S (“nothing more” than a spec-bumped iPhone 4). I, along with most people, pretty much expected this news – it really follows Apple’s pattern of small updates. The 4S features an A5 processor, a much better camera, and possibly most important to most people, Siri.

I’d originally not planned on getting a 4S at all (none of the features except the bumped camera really enticed me, and I’d have to pay mid-contract pricing). But, thanks to my wonderful mother, who had an upgrade available and could really care less about a new phone, I am now on a new white 16 GB iPhone 4S. I will be sending my older black 32 GB iPhone 4 back to her soon, not because these were the “terms” of some trade, but because at the very least, I want to be able to iMessage and FaceTime my mother with the new toy she gave me.

I don’t have an unboxing gallery for this guy since the packaging is basically the same as the iPhone 4. Nothing has changed, really. It still comes with the same accessories and the box is largely the same except for a new iCloud logo on the bottom. I admit, I played with Siri quite a bit on first use, and it is amusing. Utility-wise, though, she really doesn’t do all that much (that you can’t do faster by hand) unless you’re driving. Siri really shines when you’re driving and need to make calls or respond to text messages. Using my trusty Klipsch S4i’s, I was able to EASILY make several phone calls and respond to 3-4 texts within a short 20 minute drive, all without distracting myself from the road whatsoever. Having Siri is really just like having that assistant sit next to you and make those phone calls and text messages for you. My opinion on Siri is that for now, it’s nothing more than voice dialing on steroids. Many of its features are cool, but not quite necessary in life. Two or three years down the road, though, when it becomes more developed, Siri will definitely become a staple of iPhones, and the major differentiator from the other OSes. As a side-note, since Siri is in beta, I am holding out hope that it gets brought to the A4 iOS devices once it becomes a release build. From the hackers, Siri clearly doesn’t NEED the A5 to run. The iPhone 4S still has the same 512 MB of RAM as well.

I played with the camera a little bit too. Saint Louis has really been pretty rainy and gloomy for the last couple days, and I really haven’t had much time to take nice pictures. The only changes really noticeable in everyday application are that the photos obviously come out in a much higher resolution and size, and the file sizes increase as well. Furthermore, thanks to the zippier A5 chip in these phones alongside this pumped up camera, the battery life seems to have taken bit of a hit. I don’t really remember the battery life of my iPhone 4 on iOS4 since I’ve been on iOS5 all summer, but I’ve typically used about 10-20% more per day on my 4S than on the 4. It’s not a dramatic difference, since I charge nightly anyway (with the monthly discharge of course), so it doesn’t bother me much.

Some other points of interest: that rumored yellowing screen on the new phones doesn’t seem to be an issue for my girlfriend’s or my new 4S. I would also like to point out that the speakers seem to be quite a bit louder – sitting in my room alone I can easily be satisfied playing music at about 25% volume. I’d say that’s pretty impressive. Obviously, they’re still phone speakers and do sound a bit tingy, but hey, I’m impressed with what I’ve got now.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been on iOS5 for a while now, so I’ve had plenty of time to mess with the new features. I have been using iCloud with my Macs to sync calendars, contacts, notes, etc, and the synergy is really great. I love that I no longer need to worry about not having bookmarks in sync between my two machines, and it’s really like leaving off exactly where I was when I move between my MBP, my MBA, and my iPhone. Also, since I’ve only had 200 text messages a month since I even got a texting plan, I’ve had to rely on Google Voice, Textfree, etc for the longest time. Thanks to iMessage, I might be able to just switch over to the native messaging app entirely, since all of those 3rd-party free texting apps just suck. They crash all the time, and it’s irritating having to go into two different apps to text different people. Give it a year or two, I think the carriers are going to have to rethink their texting plan charges, since iMessage, BBM, GV (each for their respective platforms) are going to start gaining momentum. There really is no reason to have to pay $20 a month for unlimited texting when the user is already paying for data.

All in all, my verdict on the 4S is fairly positive. While I would still make the same choice as before in not buying the 4S unless I had a very easy way of getting one (thanks Mom), for those still using models older than the 3GS should definitely upgrade. iPhone 4 users will mostly see very little reason to shell out the cash, though, and should wait for the next big revision. I think Apple is finally getting it’s rhythm down on iPhone revisions and the carrier contracts: those who upgrade on the big revision should upgrade at the next big revision in two years. Likewise, those who buy the “S” model of each iPhone, should wait for the next “S” model, presumably also two years away. The iPhone 4S is a great phone, and for those who have an easy path to upgrade should definitely jump. For those that have a more difficult time upgrading can hold out, since the 4S still isn’t THAT big of a change.

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