Apple iPhone 4S Review

Talk about a long time in the making, especially when the iPhone 4 established itself as one of the most indelible smartphones in the last year alone, but close after a year and a half of being on the market, we’re finally seeing its successor in the long awaited Apple iPhone 4S. Just like what we saw with the iPhone 3GS in the past, the iPhone 4S is nothing more than an incremental upgrade. Donning a near replica of its predecessor’s design, most of the smartphone’s juicy new features are found internally as its packs a dual-core processor, upgraded 8-megapixel camera, support for CDMA & GSM connectivity, and its innovative Siri intelligent assistance service.

There’s no kidding that many people were hoping for something more next-generation, even more when Apple’s rivals have been cranking out some quality smartphones that push the envelope with today’s technology.  In any event, there’s this magical aura of some sort surrounding the handset that entices us to fancy over it no matter what. For starters, we truly adore that the three national carriers are carrying it, which is sweet considering there are more options now than ever, but it’ll need to really excel in execution and performance to keep it shining brilliantly in this fierce landscape. With that lengthy wait, does the iPhone 4S still have the perfect ingredients to stand firm amongst the competition?

The package contains:

  • Apple iPhone 4S
  • USB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Stereo Headphones
  • Apple Decals
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Important Product Information Guide


Generally, the first thing to capture our attention with any device is its looks, but seeing that the iPhone 4S utilizes a rehashed design, we’re not that compelled this second time around. Rather, we’re accepting of its solid construction and premium feel, but it’s essentially the same phone that we know and love. However, the only subtle difference found with the iPhone 4S is the new arrangement with its antenna design – though, the details to it are almost negligible. Of course, we adore the glass like plates that are sandwiched together with its brushed stainless steel band, which utterly aids the handset in retaining its premium feel. Yet, our mind tells us that the handset wouldn’t handle even the smallest of drops to the pavement – so yeah, you might want to be careful with it.

You can compare the Apple iPhone 4S with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Last year, we were completely blown away by the Retina Display since there was nothing remotely close in producing its sharp details and realistic colors. Not surprisingly, we’re not as impressed this time because we find the same old 3.5” IPS display that’s featured with last year’s model. Nevertheless, its high resolution of 640 x 960 and screen size provides the perfect combination in giving us a wicked pixel density of 326 PPI – thus, making even the tiniest of text more than discernible to the naked eye. In an age where saturated color production appears to be what enthralls people initially, we still adore the realistic and natural looking colors dished up by the Retina Display. Add in its high contrast ratio and wide viewing angles, we’re able to effortlessly see everything on-screen without a pinch of degradation to its quality.

Of course,  this wouldn’t be an iPhone if it doesn’t pack that iconic home button below its display, which is tactile with its response, but it also executes functions to get toggle the multi-tasking pane and activate Siri. Meanwhile, a front-facing 0.3-megapixel VGA camera sits close to the earpiece to offer us the convenient features of FaceTime – or simply snap some self-portraits.

Just like before, all of the handset’s buttons, switches, and ports are found in their usual locations. These include the separated volume controls, vibrate switch, dedicated power button, noise cancellation microphone, 3.5mm headset jack, microSIM card slot, speaker, regular microphone, and its proprietary dock port.

Turning it over, the other major upgrade to the iPhone 4S is found with its higher 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash, which features backside illumination and a larger f2.4 aperture. Meaning, it’s supposed to offer superior performance with low lighting shots – we’ll be the judge of that later on.

Apple iPhone 4S 360-degrees View:



1. sarb009

Posts: 322; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

Epic F@il

24. shayan

Posts: 159; Member since: Sep 09, 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: 2487; Member since: Feb 14, 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: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 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: Jan 06, 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: 1250; Member since: Aug 13, 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: 292; Member since: May 03, 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: Jul 16, 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.

2. Muhannad

Posts: 455; Member since: Sep 20, 2011

8.5/10, I'm not surprised at all.

11. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 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: Jul 16, 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: Oct 19, 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: 201; Member since: Jul 17, 2011

iphone has: 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 Dated?

64. thebikerboi2

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 01, 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: Jun 23, 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: Nov 05, 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! 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 Flash.....nope big nice screen.....nope Annoying.....uh duh.

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: Jul 16, 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: 111; Member since: Jan 02, 2012

samsung Galaxy has a quad core graphics processor, so i wouldnt let them have that one

85. TheDog700

Posts: 1; Member since: Apr 03, 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: Feb 25, 2012

Xperia S and HTC Rezound have highest PPI, while having bigger screens.

3. Tatperson

Posts: 58; Member since: Oct 21, 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: 408; Member since: Sep 16, 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: Sep 20, 2011

Same phone from last year but they still charge you $700-$800 for the unlocked version.

21. henrickrw

Posts: 408; Member since: Sep 16, 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: Oct 13, 2011

should've been 8/10 because the looks and screen didn't budge.

46. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1250; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

I agree. Those are the things people notice the most.

6. manuell3g

Posts: 66; Member since: Aug 12, 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 is just uhhh.

7. krysis

Posts: 76; Member since: Dec 14, 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: Apr 19, 2011

I'm somewhat surprised that PA gave this a score below 9.
iPhone 4s
  • Display 3.5" 640 x 960 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Apple A5, Dual-core, 800 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB

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