Posted by: amylamb | October 17, 2011

iPhone 4S: Delightful or Disappointing?

Ok, I did it. I jumped on the bandwagon with more than a million of my closest friends and pre-ordered a 16GB White iPhone 4S. What a great example of the horrible recession we are in.
Anyway, two days after it arrived, (an agonizing day belated, remedied by a $50 credit from AT&T, for which I am grateful), my assessment is as follows.

Having been a 3GS user for two years, I’m used to maximizing the iPhone’s capability. Though the user interface doesn’t differ significantly from my previous iPhone, by and large, I was not disappointed by the improved functionality of the 4S.

Here’s why the upgrade was worthwhile for me, in order of how often I use the new features:
1) Battery life. Due to my heavy usage of my iPhone, I had to charge my phone at least twice a day. I’ve charged the 4S at night and enjoyed sufficient battery life for my 12- to 16-hour days. I also watched a 20-minute video that depleted my battery a mere 3%. With my 3GS, that would’ve used most of the battery.

2) Notifications. Having been previously notorious for missing text messages, calls or tweets, I appreciate the one-swipe notification page that consolidates all of my unread notifications from my phone, social media and multiple email accounts.

3) Siri. I didn’t expect this to be a standout feature (especially due to the ‘beta’ tag on it), but it has proved to be so. I especially enjoy Siri’s texting capability during my evening jogs because I have never been coordinated enough to run and text simultaneously. Siri’s dictation feature is handy for emails, texts and tweets while running, driving, or general laziness.

4) Reminders. As long as I don’t forget my phone (which, I don’t), I won’t forget anything else with this application. Siri kindly notifies me of what I should be bringing to work today or the errands I need to run on the way home, precisely when I need the reminder.

5) Twitter integration. I can tweet from any of iPhone’s main applications, which generally simplifies my life.

6) iMessage. Is wonderful. Brings back memories of the instant messaging days, but with a better interface.

7) Multiple suggested routes on the Maps app. Being the type A, impatient person that I am, I appreciated the multiple suggestions according to time and distance.

(8 ) iCloud. Though I haven’t yet played with it much, I expect this to be an extremely handy feature to make sure I don’t lose anything between my phone, home and work computers. Though I currently use Evernote to sync all my documents & data, calendar, contact info and photos will be the primary content for which I use iCloud.

Here’s the obligatory list of disappointments:
1) I hope to see Siri’s capabilities expand considerably. She needs to integrate her functionality with my applications. (For example, if I ask, ‘what is my account balance?’, she should be able to open my banking app and read me the balance. If I ask, ‘where is my brother?’, she should be able to open the Find my Friends app and give me his location. Etc. etc.). Also, I’d love for her to read my Kindle books aloud while I drive or jog. Time will tell if she gets smarter with increased usage.

2) Speaking of my contact list, I had considerable difficulty transferring my contacts from an iOS4 phone because they were not synced to the iCloud. This caused a strange delineation in my current list of contacts that it received from iCloud and those I added manually. Quite frankly, I don’t care where the contacts came from, I just need to see the consolidated list, which I have to continuously tell it to show. While some of this may have been a user malfunction, this process wasn’t seamless enough.

3) I haven’t yet figured out how to split my keyboard and move it to a comfortable place on the screen. Have any of you seen this work yet?

4) I couldn’t put the Newsstand app into any categories, and neither would my news applications go into the newsstand because they aren’t paid subscriptions.

As for the million-dollar question, “should I upgrade to the 4S or just to iOS5?”, that depends on whether or not you need the new hardware. Since my 3GS endured a long, hard life of overwork and perhaps even abuse, it was time for an upgrade. The 4S is the clear choice among smartphone competitors, so it was a natural fit for me (that happened to coincide with the timing of my upgrade availability). But if your iPhone is still in good shape and it’s not quite time for your upgrade, stick to the iOS5 upgrade and wait for the next iPhone model.



  1. Oh no! Mine is stil on it’s way. Great review Amy, thanks for posting.

  2. Hope it comes soon, Matt! It’s worth the wait.

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