Apple iPhone 4S Review
iPhone 4S is a world phone, which means that one and the same version will be available on every carrier. There won't be differences in hardware or software, but you should still keep in mind that call quality, data and battery performance will vary, depending on the carrier. For our review, we used a unit activated on the Sprint network.
Muting things on both ends of the line, we can hear a subtle amount of background noise through the handset’s earpiece – however, it drowns out when we begin conversing. Voices on our side have a tendency to sound choppy, but thanks to its piercing volume output, we’re able to recognize voices without much falter. Meanwhile, our callers are happily impressed by the clear audio tones they’re presented on their end of the line. Finally, the speakerphone is actually a pleasure to use thanks to the robust and audible tones it’s able to produce.
Touting its improved antenna design, featuring two antennas, we got an average of 3/5 bars in high coverage areas most of the time. Sure it’s not exactly at its full capacity, but we’re thankful to not experience any dropped calls during our testing in the greater Philadelphia region. And while some other phones might be showing more bars when used in the same areas, we should keep in mind that this isn't really a reliable indicator of signal strength.
On another note, we’re rather disappointed with the battery level of the iPhone 4S – especially when it was mentioned to offer better battery life than its predecessor. Strangely, we’re able to get a little bit under 7 hours of continuous talk with a full charge, which is less than the 8 hours it’s rated for. In our day-to-day usage, we don’t find its battery life to be any better than the iPhone 4 since we’re able to get at least one day of normal usage. However, power users will still want to charge it whenever the opportunity arises to keep it at a good level – though, we’d recommend charging it nightly as well. Who knows if it’s something to do with the dual-core processor or something else, but we were expecting more out of its battery life.
We measure battery life by running a custom web-script, designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage. All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.
After all the wait, we’re still scratching our heads in confusion as to why it took this long to release this incremental model. Obviously, we wouldn’t be all that concerned if it were released during its usual summer time frame – much like all of its ancestors before it. But considering that the threshold has been established by the competition, namely by the trove of Android smartphones like the Motorola DROID BIONIC, HTC EVO 3D, and Samsung Galaxy S II, there’s nothing next-generation or completely out-of-this-world with the iPhone 4S. Sure we find those incremental upgrades appreciative to strengthen its appeal, but it’s not like the unprecedented features presented to us by the iPhone 4 last year.
Unless you’re a diehard fan of the iPhone and have an unlimited stash of moolah lying around waiting to be used, or simply have an upgrade available, there’s no denying that you’ll find the iPhone 4S as the most amazing one yet. Sure we love its faster dual-core processor and improved camera, but the single best feature with the smartphone is found with Siri – it simply just works! However, not everything is peachy with the handset, which is evident by its less than gracious battery life. Our biggest gripe with regards to the iPhone 4S's features is the lack of 4G, which means it will provide slower data connectivity compared to LTE handsets on Verizon, for example. However, it should be noted that the iPhone 4S is just as fast as some 4G-branded smartphones on AT&T and T-Mobile. You can find out more details about that in our dedicated article right here.
Well, if you happen to be an Apple iPhone 4 owner, we really don't see too many reasons why you should upgrade. However, if you have an older iPhone, the iPhone 4S will obviously be an awesome choice, due to its beautiful design, outstanding performance and cool features. If we have to compare it to the top of the line Android handsets of today, we believe the iPhone 4S has what it takes to compete successfully. Of course, whether you should side with it or a high-end Android phone depends entirely on your personal needs. One thing is certain – the iPhone 4S is not perfect, and neither is any product from the competition. They all have their pros and cons, but considering the current state of the landscape, we wouldn't go as far as to proclaim an ultimate leader. Frankly, the iPhone 4S will appease the appetite for now, but if it’ll take a full year before we see its successor, it might find itself in a disadvantage in the long run, as Android and Windows Phone continue to gain steam with each device that’s released into the market.
Right now, we believe the Apple iPhone 4S is deserving a rating of 9/10, when we consider its overall quality, features and price, but we'll actually give it an 8.5, because it is only an incremental upgrade from last year's iPhone.
Software version of the reviewed unit:
iOS version: 5.0 (9A334)
Apple iPhone 4S Video Review:
- Innovative Siri personal assistant
- Fast dual-core processor
- Shoots amazing photos and videos
- World Phone capabilities
- Battery performance is unchanged
- No 4G connectivity
24. shayan (Posts: 148; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)
actually, this is the best iphone so far. at least it reaches the other highend phones in the market. and phonearena just gave it a 8.5!!!
Im still in shock for iphone4 that phonearena gave 9.5 score.
32. Dr.Phil (Posts: 921; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)
PhoneArena gave it that score because they are Apple lovers. I mean think about it. Look back at how many articles they had for the Apple Iphone 4S vs the new Galaxy Nexus. They had more Apple articles than they did Android articles.
33. bucky (Posts: 1557; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
i think they were uber conservative with an 8.5 if you ask me. they even said in the conclusion that it deserved a 9. Its a top notch smartphone.
41. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)
hahahahahahhahahahahhaha if u think this site is pro-apple you are very diceived... do u ever read comments? its kinda like a huge andrroid storm with some apple fans and some various other people (wp7, bb, bada-lol) watching... no the iphone 4 was very diservent of a 9.5... it was literally the best phone for at least half a year....
45. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1050; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)
Seriously. I would never call this website "iPhonearena". This site definitely has way more android fans. Even some of the writers have mentioned that they prefer android, but respect iPhone. For every iPhone article, there are 10 android. Mostly because android has more phones.
63. NeXoS (Posts: 278; Member since: 03 May 2011)
Speaking of RE-HASHED DESIGN, the first iPhone 4 stole its design from the Garmin Nuvi after it won a design award!!!
How come iPhoneArena doesn't report that???????
51. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
U r a fanboy idiot. This phone is actually quite good, you guys have to admit that while Android is more complex and customizeable, iOS is far more stable, the screen, while small is also a lot better than many efforts from Android manufacturers. Siri is an excellent idea, and the A5 chip smokes the Exynos as does the camera. Btw if you can find me lag on an iPhone 4S I will be completely shocked.
You can't deny that the iPhone 4 smoked the S**t out of everything Android released last year, except for maybe the Galaxy S, which is why they gave it a 9.5
Just because this thing is in the same shell doesn't mean it sucks, so stop wining around and accept that this thing is a good product.
11. bobfreking55 (Posts: 866; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)
and they said they woud give it a nine/ten... pssshhhh. It's freakin outdated. It's like reviewing the nokia n95 when the galaxy s i9000 just arrived.
52. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
How is it outdated?
1. Most powerful CPU-check
2. Most powerful GPU-check
3. Best camera-check
4. Most stable mobile OS-check
5. One of the best screens (Apart from AMOLED ones)-check
6. Smoothest web-browsing (no flash but who cares?)-check
I really hate it when Fandroids bash Apple
products for no absolute reason.
58. nick7237 (Posts: 5; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Most android fans have never used an iPhone for more than a few minutes so they can't really judge the phone. Android and WP7 would never exist if apple never created the iPhone, and android would probably not be as far as it is if Eric schmidt wouldn't of double crossed apple. Android would be as far as WP7 is right now. And who came out with the tablet first(apple), and who copied it (android). It's easy to see who the innovators are here and who copy's other companies. ICS copied a lot of iOS5 features.
It's obvious who sells more devices and repeatedly gets the best reviews. The iPhone 3GS came out with iOS3.0 and now has 5.0. I can't remember any android devices that have got two full point updates, even the nexus devices only get one update.
The 4S is a huge update internally.
3GS: 600MHZ CPU/ SGX 535 GPU-256MB RAM
4: 800 MHZ CPU/ SGX 535 GPU- 512MB RAM
4S: Dual core 800MHZ CPU/ Dual core SGX543mp2 GPU 512MB RAM
And a 64GB option.
AirPlay, wired mirroring (1080P) and AirPlay mirroring(720P) are some of the most simple and powerful features unique to ios devices. I could go on but I don't need to. Android users don't like iPhones cause their jealous.
250million iOS devices sold, each with satisfied customers.
61. tahnik (Posts: 133; Member since: 17 Jul 2011)
No Flash support in the web browser
No Facebook integration
No proper widgets for the lockscreen
No USB Mass storage mode for uploading content to the device
No haptics for the touchscreen
No Bluetooth file transfers to other phones
64. thebikerboi2 (Posts: 144; Member since: 01 Apr 2011)
dude you just proved this guys point about androiders not using an iphone for anything over a minute
76. gain1998 (Posts: 11; Member since: 23 Jun 2011)
I think you should probably know...
iPhone users don't necessarily care too much about Flash support... and in case you hadn't noticed this had been posted in the positive comment you negatively responded to.
iPhone users don't care about FB integration.
iPhone users don't care all too much about proper widgets for the lockscreen.
iPhone users don't care about USB Mass Storage mode for uploading content to the device
iPhone users don;t care about haptics for the touchscreen
iPhone users don't care about transferring files to other phones through Bluetooth
What iPhone users DO care about are reliable, dependable phones, with outstanding reputations. They're not looking for all these different features. And if you ARE looking for these features, then this is OBVIOUSLY not the phone for you. Keep looking.
67. RandomRobbieGuy (Posts: 4; Member since: 05 Nov 2011)
The iPhone is outdated. People buy and use it because they don't care about their phone. Or because everyone else has one. I have had every iPhone in all colors. (execpt the 4S) I keep buying them because i am used to them and know them just about inside and out. Nothing changes. OMG! SIRI....like for real. think about it in your daily life. I have the iPhone 4 and don't use voice control. You can never expect the newest and best tech from apple. I don't know why people are so attached to the iPhone. Android is amazing i have had one. Blackberry... no its not business like really at all......just because they have email. I am returning to blackberry for the keyboard. iPhone 4S is a piece of crap and not worth the upgrade.
Hey apple where is the keyboard.....oops
big nice screen.....nope
68. robinrisk (unregistered)
1. It is not the most powerfull CPU. Dual core @800Mhz is not better than the exynos at 1.2.
2. GPU, i do not know much about it, so i'll give you that one.
3. Best Camera? Best camera in an iPhone that is, there are several smartphones with a camera better or just as good as the iPhone's.
4.Most stable Mobile OS?. My photon has never given me any force closes, WP7, Blackberry and Symbian are just as stable.
5. One of the best screens. Not the best though, ain't it? SamoledHD FTW =)
6. Yeah.... without flash even the low end handsets have a smooth browsing experience. Plus, at 3.5 inches, it is not as confortable as in an Android device.
73. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
1. Actually the dualcore A5 chip @ 800MHz is far more powerful than the Exynos in terms of I/O.
2. I am right
3. No the 4S\' camera really does beat everything else by a longshot
4. No they\'re not
5. you are probably right
6. Right again =)
82. Gdrye (Posts: 109; Member since: 02 Jan 2012)
samsung Galaxy has a quad core graphics processor, so i wouldnt let them have that one
85. TheDog700 (Posts: 1; Member since: 03 Apr 2012)
Time for the nine year olds to go to bed, the adults are talking.
Some of you probably do not know what software does. iOS is obviously not as laggy as android which is why you don't need a 1.5 ghz proccesor for it to run smoothly. Yes there are some great android smartphones out there. But the iPhone 4s functionality and preformance are on par or better than these other phones. For the average consumer, functionality is all that matters.
What I am saying is that you can have a 4ghz proccesor but if it has horrible software it won't be functional.
And for the record, the ppi on the iPhone 4s is currently the best on the market and the color accuracy is the best or one of the best on the market.
86. dmckay12 (Posts: 243; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)
Xperia S and HTC Rezound have highest PPI, while having bigger screens.
3. Tatperson (Posts: 58; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
Great job phonearena, you were not so biased this time round. It didn't score higher than 9 points unlike other dual-core phones. Keep it up :)
20. henrickrw (Posts: 407; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)
I own both (The Galaxy S2 & the N95 8GB) - Beleive it or not, I still love my N95 8GB & it´s brand new still.
I agreed with your statement tough. It was time for Phonearena to judge the 4S how it deserved to be... A good phone but not the super...
4. Muhannad (Posts: 455; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)
Same phone from last year but they still charge you $700-$800 for the unlocked version.
21. henrickrw (Posts: 407; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)
That the other issue. Apple products are just too expensive dude. They are still charging 800...Even downhere in Latin America it´s more expensive than the GS2
5. arcq12 (Posts: 733; Member since: 13 Oct 2011)
should've been 8/10 because the looks and screen didn't budge.
46. Joshing4fun (Posts: 1050; Member since: 13 Aug 2010)
I agree. Those are the things people notice the most.
6. manuell3g (Posts: 66; Member since: 12 Aug 2011)
iphonearena to me were still biase. watch reviews on most android phones that dont come with any major changes or even the one they did on the galaxy note.the reviewer was talking as if he was so much disappointed in the product. yet you can feel the satisfactory in their voices when they review an iphone...they can bash android but to me even a midrange droid is still better than a highend iphone simply bcos of the os.android is just uhhh.
7. krysis (Posts: 76; Member since: 14 Dec 2009)
i think it more has to do with the fact that they don't get to review as many iphone's as android devices. so it's probably rather fun for them to get their hands on it, compared to say, an htc phone on at&t that has the same specs, hardware, etc. as an htc phone on sprint that they reviewed less than a month ago. the design may be different but i'm sure it can get rather repetitive. and this would be coming from an android user anxiously awaiting the galaxy nexus :)
8. Eingild (Posts: 203; Member since: 19 Apr 2011)
I'm somewhat surprised that PA gave this a score below 9.
14. cristhiansaid (Posts: 30; Member since: 25 Jun 2010)
Hey PhoneArena Why you didnt say in CONS
: Same OLDER Design, just like others phone review???
example Sony ericcson ARC S......and sony ericcson ARC?
49. cristhiansaid (Posts: 30; Member since: 25 Jun 2010)
I want to ask those people that put me down in red.
Why? Is not the same design?? Is not the older design? I dont talking about beauty of design ok... but this is older design and a BIG CONS,
just like the others review, example, again, sony arc and sony arc S.
57. SleepingOz (unregistered)
you mad, bro?
9. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3040; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)
Great review exactly what the phone deserves. Its a decent upgrade but it's nothing mind blowing and wasn't worth the long wait. Anyone who has the 4 wont need to rush to upgrade to this.
10. dbparipsa (Posts: 18; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)
Well, I think the main reason why Apple couldn't bring a big breakthrough with this device is because of so-called patent war.
Last year, Apple had brought revolutionary iPhone 4 and it was just great because its making was not distracted by nonsense patent wars and lawsuits. This time around, Apple focused more on patent war than on making of iPhone. It wasted more time on blaming others of copying its ideas (even though it copied its 'innovative' notification bar from Android).
Thank God, Apple does not make aircrafts. If Apple was an aircraft manufacturer, I bet it would file a lawsuit against birds for infringing its 'flying technology patents'!
12. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
iphone4s gets 8.5 the prime and razr will get 10 :D
13. ilia1986 (unregistered)
At last! An iPhone to get less than 9! Thankyou PhoneArena for finally proving that you are indeed objective in your reviews.
iPhone 4ass - the most underwheling iPhone yet. For an unbelievable price.
I'll wait for the SGS3 + ICS.
19. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4313; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
It was a fair review. The iPhone 4S is really no different than the iPhone 4. The dual-core on the iPhone 4S doesn't make a difference in performance. The games that will take advantage of the 800MHz A5 dual-core don't exist yet. Siri is cool but it got boring very quickly. So PhoneArena.com was spot on with the review. Kudos to PhoneArena.com!
16. maxican16 (Posts: 364; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)
Con: hipsters cannot express individuality since it's the exact same design as last years model. Confused and unsure where to turn, many cover their face in knitted caps.
88. li0nh3art (Posts: 28; Member since: 05 Aug 2012)
Yeah.. Even the concept phones are better than this crap design!
18. AKm007 (Posts: 108; Member since: 06 Sep 2011)
Isn't it a bit unfair that the Droid X2 got a negative point for being the same unchanged design. So did the torch. Here they just mention it in the article. Isn't that a bit biased?
55. cristhiansaid (Posts: 30; Member since: 25 Jun 2010)
is the same that a i wrote....and every body put me fingerdown.....
22. henrickrw (Posts: 407; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)
I know this have been one of the most difficult reviews of your entire history.
When you say:
Right now, we believe the Apple iPhone 4S is deserving a rating of 9/10, when we consider its overall quality, features and price, but we'll actually give it an 8.5, because it is only an incremental upgrade from last year's iPhone.
There is one thing we should have learned from this:
Apple Products are no longer the ALMIGHTY.... Samsung is their worst nightmare.
Good review guys
More to come soon..!!!
28. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
I'm ready for the thumbs down.
I see the last statement in the article way differently...like this:
"We at PhoneArena know that Apple haters will whine if we give it a 9/10, so we'll go with the mob and rate it an 8.5/10."
Seriously? When did you start reviewing the current model to last year's model? What about people coming off contract wanting to upgrade? You are basically saying the iPhone 4 is a better phone. Now only monumental upgrades can achieve 9 and above scores. We should do this with the car industry then, too. "Well the new Honda Accord isn't that much of an upgrade compared to last year, even though it's one of the best in its class, we'll give it an 8.5/10."
I get that this is the mobile device industry, which is moving at a much faster pace than the car industry......if that's your reason...then say that!! Don't say you WOULD have given it a 9.
Are you really trying to appease Apple haters?...because every comment on this post agrees with the lower score, and then says, "Android FTW!!!" These are not objective viewers of tech, they are Android fanboys.
We are allowed to jeer/cheer in the comments as much as we want, but your review should be based on features, usability, and competitors' offerings. If those 3 food groups are met in your eyes, and you think it deserves a 9/10, then give it a 9/10!!
Seriously consider removing that entire last sentence from the article...or change your score to 9/10. I think that statement dilutes any integrity you have.
30. rayjones09 (Posts: 149; Member since: 16 Dec 2010)
These people are unsatisfiable. I'm sure there isn't much justified hatred towards Apple. I'm not an Apple fan in particular, but I must say they are now the benchmark (when it comes to mobile devices); as they have been for some time now.
37. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
Great points vette21man. I'm confused by that comment as well. If they think it deserves a 9 then it should score 9. If not score it what you think. PA is definitely starting to take the fanboys into account. Ever since Michael H came on board the bias here is picking up. It was a site already dominated by android trolls, but now the writers are actually deferring to them led by the android fanboy they hired as a writer.
Anyway 8.5 or 9 is somewhere close to a fair score. There's nothing mindblowing on this phone like the original iPhone or the iPhone 4 last year which introduced a new form factor, facetime and iOS 4. I'm going to stick with my 4 until next summer. By then LTE should be more mature and iPhone will probably add it.
I think the real test of this phone, as always, will be the consumer. If it's truly falling back we will see it in sales and user satisfaction ratings.
42. whatevs (Posts: 18; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
you know, I've been on an iphone since it came out. about a year ago i kinda got bored with it and tried out android - galaxy line on verizon. had a fascinate, super amoled screen was nice. the phone would freeze, glitch, lag and reset itself constantly. turned it in for a droid charge. nice screen. phone continuously freezes glitches and lags,,, and resets itself, lol. after a year of this bullsh%t, I cannot wait to get back to the beautiful smooth sailing that is the iphone 4s. it comes in next week. this phone deserves a 10 on this website and you know it PA! Android = FAIL!! software not optimized to work the several junk hardware that litters carrier stores. sorry, i lived through it. go ahead and thumbs down me and leave your hate comments android trolls. peesky
47. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
The thumbs down you received makes me think of another point...if someone thumbs you down, they should have to leave a short comment as to why. This ridiculous "thumbs-downing" is so childish, anyone can do it without a reason. I think you should have to explain yourself...or just get rid of the whole thumbs down, and leave the "Report" function.
48. bolaG (Posts: 468; Member since: 15 Aug 2011)
I don't know if this is your case but many android users end up with a glitchy and laggy phone because they don't know how to filter bad apps from good apps and probably never clean memory caches.
My sister has an Iphone3gs and its laggy as all hell now days and its never been jailbroken nor does she have a crap ton of apps. She's also had to change her screen twice from small waist high drops sense its made of glass...
Again its all up to the user for android to work properly. Shoot if you or I knew how to Rom, Boot, Kernel androids then sky would be the limit.
23. remixfa (Posts: 14042; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
the review was fair.
I probably wouldnt have given it higher than an 8 concidering the small upgrade and rehash that it was, and especially when you compare it to its similarly priced competition like the SGS2.
25. adnan.d92 (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Oct 2011)
whats the big idea of being a world phone?
every other phone outside the U.S. can be used anywhere in the world!
26. mukrenol (Posts: 90; Member since: 03 Sep 2011)
they cannot think of any other pro points...
coz there isn't that much
mobilesyurp pointed out that siri does not really work in canada
sad sad....i bet it will not really work in korea too
27. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
In the pic comparing sizes of iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, SGSII, and EVO 3D, that side-profile pic of the 4S is not a 4S. There is no black band above the silent switch. Further, it's not a white 4S profile, as the front and back borders are black.
I came across this discrepancy when trying to see the 1mm height difference between the 4 and 4S. :-P
Disclaimer: I may or may not be extremely detail-oriented (anal).
29. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
"Using our Sprint iPhone 4S unit, we’re IMPRESSED with its unflattering data speeds, which gives us average upload and download speeds of 1.39 Mbit/s and 0.22 Mbit/s respectively."
I believe you mean, "NOT impressed"
31. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
You mention the "...optional A/V adapter that connects to the handset via its dock port."
But you fail to mention anything in the entire review about AirPlay mirroring with AppleTV. This is one of the only features separating the 4S from the 4 (besides A5, camera, world phone, and antenna). Actually, it's a pretty awesome feature that no other phone has at all. Would have been nice to see that feature reviewed. Are you doing a separate article for this?
Rather than pay $40 for a HDMI adapter, pay $99 for an AppleTV that gives you more than just mirroring, but wireless music/video streaming, iTunes access, and a handful of other internet radio/video sites. Not to mention streaming your own photos/videos/music from your PC with a dead simple interface.
34. chunk1x (Posts: 248; Member since: 25 Jun 2011)
Phonearena is so brutal about its photo quality review that this is the reason why I love the site. They don't pretend that one phone is the best at everything. Engadget is an asshole in faking the results. I love the 1080p video in this model.