iPhone 4S Review – My Initial Thoughts

iPhone 4s ReviewHello Vegau Blog readers,

First off, a very brief introduction.  My name is Aaron Hahn, and I'm an IT Security Specialist for a Fortune 500 company, specializing in mobile devices and UNIX platforms. I'm excited to be writing for Vegau, so let's get to the good stuff already!

For my first post, I'd like to share some of my personal opinions regarding Apple's latest phone, the 4S. Call this my "Apple 4S Review", if you will. I'll approach a few areas with the mindset of an Apple "Fanboi", but I assure you most of the topics will be non-biased.

Disclaimer: I feel Android devices are truly one of the biggest technological scams to ever penetrate your pockets and your pocket books. Technically speaking, you are required and encouraged to 'root' your phone to get the most out of your couple hundred dollar purchase. "Rooting" a device, any device opens you up to threats you'll never see coming. Since we use a phone differently than a computer, these threats are on a much deeper level, and you can have your identity threatened. Think I'm lying? Want to argue? Bring it, I'll win. Security analysts all say the same thing - owning an Android device is like owning Windows 98, security-wise. On the bright side, Android has really made a great effort to 'fix' this flaw in their ecosystem with their latest OS upgrades, that is pending your device can upgrade to this OS.

Therefore, a lot of my bias stems from this hatred of Google's Android platform. While Android isn't 'hell' in your pocket waiting to kill your life, it has the capability to do so.

Apple is playing catch up to Android's hardware and some software features, and they did a great job in the process. Continuing with the comparison of the two platforms, Android phones are like every single car on the road, there's a lot of different flavors. A lot of them suck while touting 'this feature' or 'that feature', but usage wise, it's a car, whoop. Apple's iPhone 4S is like owning a high-end car like a Mercedes or pick your other perfect cars. They're expensive but boy do they do exactly what they're made to do very very well.

iPhone 4S is catching up and surpassing (for now) a lot of Android phone hardware. But like every single phone out there, it's still not 'perfect'. Everybody pitched a fit when they iPhone 4S was released in the same exact casing as the year before's model. But trust me, the inside guts of this phone are completely different. It is a completely different phone. In fact, putting things into perspective, if Apple put the iPhone 4S into a different case with a bigger screen, everybody would be clamoring over themselves to get one.

I love the iPhone 4 casing... love it. Coming from a 2009 3GS model, I've never had the Retina Display before, and unlike 99% of Android phones that don't have a Retina Display, I love looking at my phone. EVERYTHING is crystal clear in a way that I, a tech geek for a decade and some now, can't believe my eyes. The screen is brilliant and perfect. Old news though, this tech has been around since 2010, but I'm just making sure you understand how perfect the screen of the iPhone 4S is.

That said, the new hardware is fast - it completely blows away my iPhone 3GS. Blows it out of the water and makes it completely obsolete. Then again so did 2009's 3GS at the time. This is the problem with computers in general and the iPhone 4S is no different. It's amazing now, a couple of new OS' and it'll be average. But for now it's fast. Surfing the web is 'almost' the same as surfing the web on my computer, referring to the load time and rendering of a web page. A simple webpage like Google loads instantly, literally. A page like Apple.com loads really, really fast. The thing that bugs me is this though... the hardware is crazy similar to my 2008 iMac which loads webpages perfectly - so why can't the iPhone 4S? I believe it's the software and its limitations.

The camera... wow. Ok, the video camera, wow. The video camera is worth the upgrade alone. My opinion. The whole camera stabilization is awesome. Taking a family video is almost like watching a video that was captured on a tripod or something, there's hardly any camera shake. Amazing. There is no other 'phone' out there that can do this. The camera quality is great. However, since my wife is a professional photographer, a crappy picture on a great camera is still a crappy picture. Don't get me wrong, it takes arguably the best pictures of ANY phone - but a bad picture is still a bad picture. Outside with perfect natural light, this camera is going to blow your mind. Inside at night time, with a flash... it's just a snapshot, with flash, taken inside a house. Yawn. You just took a really bad big picture - you're a winner. Perfect lighting conditions though, the iPhone 4S' camera is amazing and worth the upgrade.

Siri... Siri is awesome when she does her job. Siri is a pain in the ass when she doesn't. Since there is just no other competition at the moment to Siri I can't make a comparison otherwise. The times that Siri does her job it blows me away. When she acts like a typical computer, she gets on my nerves. But... everything you've seen on the commercials is 100% spot on. She is a digital assitant and makes using a phone completely new. Like 2007's revolution of 'multi-touch' in the hands of a consumer, Siri I believe is 2011's revolution. It's an amazing step forward with computing in general, and now that I have her, I can't live without her. The dictation of the iPhone (which uses Siri as its base) is, I'd say, 90% accurate. It's simply not as perfect as I'd like it to be. A great example, I don't have to type in web addresses. Yay.

I asked her: "I need a place to hide a dead body", and her reply was something along the line of: "Ok, around you is a dump, a reservoir, woods, and a lake. Where would you like to go?". Really? REALLY? I asked her what was she wearing, her response: "Why does everyone keep asking me this". C'mon. Ask her what is my day today, and there's my calendar. What is my like tomorrow, and there's tomorrow's calendar. Ask her to remind to leave my house at 6pm, and bang, at 6pm my alarm goes off. She read my last email with no issues, and she read my last text message with no issues. It a new age of computing. I can't wait for this way of interfacing with a computer to grow and get perfect. Talking to my computer is the way to go. Yet another Star Trek feature coming to life.

The only issues I've had with Siri - and it's not entirely her fault but Apple's - is when I restored my iPhone backup from my 3GS onto the phone... all Siri settings turned off. I had to re-enable them. Also ALL of my contacts, personal and corporate (M$ Exchange), the phone numbers lost their "-" (dashes); therefore, Siri couldn't make a phone call for me. I had to turn off my contacts and resync them. This fixed things, but for M$ Exchange contacts, I had to go back into Exchange and review each number, and sure enough the dashes were missing in Outlook. I'm now in the process of adding them back. I never noticed this with my 3GS as being a problem but I guess it is now? I guess your phone is only as good as its data it's pulling from it's resources.

Being on Verizon... wow, I have a cell phone for the first time. With my iPhone on AT&T I was always scared of dropping a call, or not hearing the person on the other end, or the person on the other end not hearing me... well, all of these problems are gone now. It is actually amazing. Since I've never had (so far) a trouble-free cell phone before, this is new. Like an abused person, I'm still adjusting to my new cell life. I keep thinking in the background I'm going to drop the call. Nope. But yet the paranoia still exists. I had one call issue: the person on the other line could hear me, but I couldn't hear them well. Being in the basement of my house I get three or four bars, and no issues with using it.

My final thoughts? Is it worth upgrading? Is it one of the best phones on the market? Did I make the right decision with sticking with black?

It is worth the upgrade pending you can get the subsidized price. The camera, the screen, the speed, and Siri, all make it worth your money. This holds 100% true if you've never owned an iPhone or are upgrading from the 3GS.

I think the iPhone is the best all around phone on the market. I have a lot of technical reasons to back this up, (of course I would). The only response people have with Android is all the same, "but I can do whatever I want with my phone". Ok... but do you really need to? Caaaaause the iPhone can do everything you need to do with being a computer in your pocket, and it's 100% safe pending you don't 'root' it. Sooooo, what's your point? Oh, no, please, tell me, what is your point? ; )

~A

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