After spending over a week with the iPhone 4S, we have some test notes to share. There are a limited number of ways in which the iPhone 4S improves upon the original iPhone 4, and they include: camera, CPU/graphics, and software with iOS 5. In this video, we break down each category and provide some usage notes.
Those of you that have the iPhone 4 running on iOS 4 know that after a while, your device becomes slower. More frustratingly, when using Safari, you often see checkerboards when trying to navigate through a page quickly. On the iPhone 4S, or even on an iPhone 4 with a clean install of iOS 5, checkerboards are a thing of the past. While you still might get a blank page if you try to scroll before the page loads, it often fills back in within a fraction of a section. Keep your eye out for an upcoming video where we compare the web browser of the iPhone 4S with other platforms to see if the 4S has the fasest mobile web browser on the planet.
You can leave your point and shoot at home with the iPhone 4S. The camera performs remarkably well in all conditions: low light, bright light, fast motion, portrait with multiple faces, macro, landscape, etc. Colors are well-saturated, and the camera does a fantastic job at focusing on whatever you’re trying to zero in on. And the 1080p video capture is also very, very good, though not as good as a dedicated HD camcorder or DSLR (we’re still working with a tiny lens, let’s not forget).
While not unique to the iPhone 4S, iOS 5 contributes to the experience on the 4S. We have a lot of gripes about the notification system in iOS 5 and how the banner notifications can obscure certain UI elements. But the addition of iMessage, lock screen notifications, iCloud, and many other goodies, make the upgraded operating system a generally pleasant experience.
Though not covered in the video, we ought to remark that battery life on the iPhone 4S is significantly worse than the 4. After a day of moderate use, the battery can sometimes dip below 20%, while the iPhone 4 with similar use would be around 40% or 50%. More on battery life in the final review!