Product Type: Apple Smartphone
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Cheap and Cheerful at just £699
Apple iPhone 4S 64 GB
Member Name: Deru
Apple iPhone 4S 64 GB
Date: 05/04/12, updated on 09/04/12 (39 review reads)
Advantages: Apps available, Good build, Fast performance
Disadvantages: Features can drain battery, Siri hit and miss, no 4G, Screen can crack, Expensive
After using my iPhone 3GS for 2 years and getting hooked to the Apps that the iTunes App store has to offer, I naturally wanted my next mobile phone to be an iPhone! (No wonder Apple is so successful) I held out and did not buy an iPhone 4, eagerly awaiting the release of the rumoured iPhone 5.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen and they came out with the iPhone 4S instead, which looks the same as a iPhone 4 (but it's what's on the inside that counts). I couldn't wait any longer as my aging 3GS felt slow after several software updates and new Apps being installed over the years. The camera also wasn't great in terms of quality and there was no flash light, so I went and bought an iPhone 4S (64GB) direct from the Apple website for £699 (plus £59 for Apple Care). You can also get the phone on phone contracts at varying prices. The phone also comes in 16GB (£499) and 32GB (£599) versions.
PERFORMANCE & FEATURES
The phone is much faster than the iPhone 3GS. Once you've transitioned from a 3GS, you definitely feel it. Not so much if you had an iPhone 4 but the 4S is supposedly a bit faster than the iPhone 4 as well. The phone is generally very zippy, however every so often, I find that some Apps do lag for a moment when I'm opening or running it so it's not perfect. May be to do with the App itself being a bit resource hungry but in general, the phone's performance is marvellous. It's easy to use as all you have to do to operate it is to swipe left, right, pinch and press the button and icons on screen, give or take a few hardware buttons.
On a smart phone, the keyboard for writing messages text messages and emails, etc should be easy to use and the iPhone's software keyboard doesn't disappoint. However, the auto-correct is very awkward to use and often inserts the wrong word when correcting you. I've actually turned the feature off as a result. Foreign keyboards can also be added and so you can write Chinese or whatever as with earlier generations of the iPhone.
All the 4S TV adverts go on about Siri. This is the voice recognition feature, which is built into the phone. You turn the feature on, hold the Home button and then speak to the phone to perform tasks and it will answer you.
ME: "Send Text message to [name of person]"
SIRI: "What do you want to say to [name of person]?
ME: "Hello [name of person], how are you? blah, blah, blah"
SIRI: "I updated your message, ready to send it?"
He also has a sense of humour. Ask Siri "What is the meaning life?" his response is "I don't know. But I think there's an app for that."
ME: "Talk dirty to me"
SIRI "Humus, Compost, Pumice, Silt, Gravel"
ME: "Talk dirty to me"
SIRI "The Carpet needs vacuuming"
The voice recognition is actually pretty good but not perfect as there are certain words I find impossible to input by voice. You can compose whole messages using your voice most of the time. People with accents may have trouble getting Siri to recognise everything.
Siri is a great feature but it relies on you having an Internet connection for Siri to send your message to Apple to translate into text. I have found that even when I have a signal, sometimes Siri is pretty useless and just tells me it can't do it because there's a problem. No idea why. Also, it currently, still cannot find places (i.e. shops, addresses) in the UK as this function only works in the US. Bit stupid really as it's been out for 5 months in this country now.
The quality of the camera is excellent and it has image stabilisers, which isn't perfect but at least they added it. The camera can also record video. It has a flashlight, which works as a camera flash but I find that night shots and images in the dark end up with over exposure so it's not great. Taking pictures without good lighting work better without the flash. However, it works great as a torch! I had to find an App in the App Store to turn the light on and off. There are plenty of free ones but I would have thought that Apple would have included one as standard.
The ability to install Apps means that it pretty much has an unlimited number of features but it has the usual call, text, email, web browser, maps, built in. You can download EBooks, audios, music, videos, etc onto the phone. The web browser, image viewers etc let you zoom in and out by pinching the screen. Although Android phones also let you do this, I find this feature on iOS devices to be smoother so I feel Apple have hit the spot with this. One downside for me is the inability to view Flash websites and Flash streaming videos on the iOS (Apple don't trust Adobe Flash and refuse to include it), which is mainly why I've avoided buying an iPad. Not such a bit issue on an iPhone but I generally like more functionality.
The phone also allows you to use the phone as a Wireless Hotspot. This also depends on your network as some networks (i.e. O2) don't allow 'tethering' so the function can't be enabled. T-Mobile and Orange works even if the providers may say you're not supposed to. Just be careful not to overdo it otherwise you could get a big data bill. Using it for emails and news is fine.
One thing I don't particularly like is how you have to use iTunes to transfer files to and from the phone. Sometimes I'd rather be a able to drag and drop items to and from the device but the only thing I can do that with is with pictures and videos captured with the iPHone and only copying them off the phone.
Overall, the phone is easy to use and simple in design. It only has 4 physical buttons and a sliding switch (for silent mode). Being a smartphone, battery life can be a bit short. No matter what they quote, some Apps and features like Location Services (lets Apps know your location) and Alerts can drain the battery, along with WiFi and Bluetooth. All of which, you can switch off if you don't use them. I find my phone lasts me about 3 quarters of the day with regular but light usage. If you find yourself playing lots of graphics intensive games, then expect it to be much shorter.
VOICE & DATA
Making calls is easy enough to do. Call clarity and signal (reception) varies depending on network coverage of your provider but I find that calls are pretty clear. I've had calls drop out but that's when my signal dropped to nothing but other times it was the person on the other end's problem. I find my T-Mobile signal is hit and miss depending on where I am in terms of data so the phone may not be to blame.
I would have liked if Apple could improve signal but stuffing more antennas in the phone or something but I'll bet they'll do something like this in future incarnations of the iPhone as Apple like to add features one at a time to make you buy their next product! The phone also has a conference call feature which is neat, BUT I'm unable to use this because it turns out you need to be on an iPhone mobile tariff. I have a SIM only deal so I get to miss out on that function. No biggie for me and most people will be getting the phone on contract anyway due to the high cost of the phone.
The iPhone 4S, despite Apple claiming to have used military grade materials (it does feel very sturdy), is very susceptible to cracked screens should it be dropped. I've seen it many times but this is fixable at phone shops for around £70 even though they'll probably use generic parts. My tip would be to buy a case of some sort for extra protection. I've dropped my iPhones many times but the cases have always saved the day.
Despite it being a premium phone with exceptional build quality, things can still go wrong. That is why I also bought Apple Care to extend my warranty to 3 years (plus gives me Apple technical support up till it expires should I need it). After three months of using my 4S, something funny was happening. The volume icon would show up on the screen and sometimes stay there. Sometimes when increase the volume by pressing the button on the side, it keeps going up even though I've let go.
Turns out that was getting stuck. I booked an appointment with the Apple Store in Bluewater. Went there, waited 45 minutes just to be seen (they were running late), had it fixed (for free, under warranty), only to find the same symptom happen 3 hours later in the day. I went straight back just before closing time and they replaced my phone. That's pretty good service!
- Loads of Apps to choose from
- Runs smoothly
- Good build quality
- Easy to use
- Fast/smooth performance
- Easy navigation and viewing of web pages
- Includes flashlight
- 3 different capacities
- Voice recognition works well.
- Good customer support
- Siri is hit and miss
- Add / removing files has to be done through iTunes which is restrictive
- Battery life could still be better
- Screen can crack if dropped
- Camera not great in dark conditions
- Battery not user replaceable
- Voice recognition requires Internet access to function
- No 4G support (next version of 3G Internet)
- No memory card slots (but at least there's lots of storage choices)
- Uses micro SIM
Despite the niggles, I still rather like my iPhone due to the possibilities with the massive selection of free and paid for Apps, as well as the build, customer support and performance. One little thing that annoys me is tha it uses a micro SIM that's half the size as normal mobile SIMs. I had to cut my SIM and it means if I ever want to pop the SIM into a different phone, I'd need an adapter. It's an expensive phone (£499, £599, £699 (mine)) but I use it all the time so I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. Most things have to be done via iTunes, which I used to refuse to use before owning an iPhone but I soon got used to it (again, no wonder Apple are so successful). Recommended? Yes. Will I go for the iPhone 5? Probably.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Also available in white.
Summary: Apple iPhone 4S...64GB