Apple’s design language is easily recognisable: clear glass or plastic that’s spray-painted from the inside, a frequent use of aluminium, stainless steel and any colour so long as it’s white or black. But the new iPhone takes this familiarity further, by making the iPhone 4S almost identical to last year’s iPhone 4. Apple …
My point still stands
There are people (including a friend) driving 199x 5-series BMWs. They do it for the love of technology, and get their vehicles dirt cheap because those perfectly good cars are worthless to the people who buy them new.
Imagine BMW bringing out the next 5-series looking exactly the same as the last, with all the improvements under the bonnet. Like Volvo does with the "classic" just before an update, but not actually doing an update at all. The got-to-be-hip crowd would have to resort to buying another brand.
Oops, I made a car analogy. Sorry.
Thanks for sharing the numbers. It does seem like a lot of cash for a fairly minimal upgrade. By my reckoning, that works out at £1293 over two years, or £53.80 a month for the 24 months. By the way, you didn't say what size iPhone you went for - was that a 32GB?
Seems like a lot of money to me and for me, I don't see the value compared against any other smartphone which you could get for free on a £25/month contract - but hey, if you can afford it and want it then good luck to you.
It still amazes me that Apple can sell such high-end stuff in such volumes at such high prices. It also amazes me that they get away with charging £100 for an extra 16GB of memory. I know it's all about differentiation (and everyone does it to some degree), but it seems a bit excessive - though somehow Apple manage to make it work for them.
No contract no-brainer
I did the calculation a little while ago and if you happen to be able to afford the phone sim-free it makes perfect sense to buy it outright.
Let's take the total cost of ownership approach:
Buy a 12 month contract as above and you're committed to paying 12x £41 = £492 and add the £309 you paid for the phone gives us £801.
Or buy the iPhone 4s sim-free direct from Apple for £499 and go to the same network (but using giffgaff as the provider) and pay £10 a month (if, like me you actually use reliably under 250mins /month though other 'goody bags' are available) plus all the texts and internet you can eat. this works out at £120 over the year for a TCO of £619. Even if you're regularly using 400mins a month your TCO becomes £679, or at 800min/month it becomes £739. In any case you're not committed to any contract at all and you've saved a bundle.
To take an existing example, as close as I can. On O2 a 12 month 300 min contract with a 4gs 16gb, the phone costs £299, and the contract costs 12x(£31+6) = £444 for a TCO of £743
I could buy the same phone unlocked from Apple for £499 and spend £120 on an very nearly equivalent contract for a TCO of £619 with no commitment, as well as other nice parts of an unlocked phone like being able to use with a foreign sim if abroad or lend it to mates.
There may be a few examples where the contract works in your favour but generally speaking it won't. Even taking the 24 month 300min contract gives a TCO of £962 vs £739, (not counting the apple warranty only lasting 12 months - a trap I've fallen into before), and apple will probably have released the iPhone 6 or 5s by that point, so it'll be starting to look slow.
There are other contract providers that do these sorts of sim only deals - I'm just using giffgaff as the example because I'm currently with them and I've been pretty happy thus far. Most of the big providers have something similar if a little more expensive, and if going for a small provider (there's a list of them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mobile_network_operators_of_Europe#United_Kingdom) makes sure they support HSPA+.
Hope that helps anyone considering entering a contract.
p.s. would be great if a Reg hack could write an article on contract vs non-contract...
OK, here's the God's honest truth about the 4S in just one sentence:
"It's a faster iPhone 4, but battery life has suffered."
That's it, really. If you thought the iPhone 4 was slow, fill your boots. Whatever you do, don't buy it for Siri - it's a gimmick, especially in the UK.
Yeah, well, it's also Beta apparently. An odd inclusion from a company that's known for keeping mum on unfinished product. It's quite impressive though, as a preview; considering how long dictation has been around, I've never come across any (including Dragon) that have understood a word I say. As for the AI side, well I'm not quite so easily impressed - I've played text adventures that did a better job with context.
Siri for external informaton (e.g. finding a local restaurant) is not working - Apple admit it - it's not working "badly" in the UK - it simply doesn't work and I don't think it's a joke. It is unforuntate they couldn't get a UK partner for the information in time for launch.
The other inherent aspects of Siri work well - e.g. play a particular piece of music / track.
Oh, and it's fast. And only some of the features of iOS5 work on the 4S - e.g. location based reminders (e.g. when I leave work, remind me to go to the chemist).
I suspect apple were forced to bring Siri to the market before it was out of beta simply because they had little else to wow with. If they hadn't released it in its current state and as iphone 4s they would have scored very poorly in the press and had nothing to really stand up to android's offerings, in particular the samsung galaxy s2.
iCloud is 'beta' too...
...or at least it feels like it.
Trying using iworks-with-iCloud in a typical workflow (eg: write a doc in the office on the iMac, and proof-read it on a train with the iDevice). Go on...I dare you.
Seriously, it's a much publicised feature of iCloud...and it doesn't f*ing work with iWork on OS X. I mean, FFS...
You can legally buy one in Oz?..
"The other inherent aspects of Siri work well - e.g. play a particular piece of music / track."
You mean the features that have been working since the iPhone 3GS? Hold the button on the iPhone 3GS and 4 to say "Play songs by Queen" has worked long since Siri was involved - didn't need a network connection to do it either...
"Oh, and it's fast" - the iPhone 4 is slow?
Where are the pictures of a post box? I thought that was the standard El Reg camera-on-a-phone calibration tool?
Maybe the metal thieves nicked it!?
Here's the problem with Siri - it mishears me about 50% of the time and I have to spend ages correcting the mistranslation.
You wouldn't accept that level of inaccuracy on the touch interface; imagine clearly pressing the icon for Weather and getting Angry Birds instead because the interface made a 'mistake'. People would be up in arms!
So why tolerate that kind of inaccuracy from an alternative means of accessing your phone, such as voice?
I switched Siri off. It's still a great phone.
> You wouldn't accept that level of inaccuracy on the touch interface;
> imagine clearly pressing the icon for Weather and getting Angry
> Birds instead because the interface made a 'mistake'. People would
> be up in arms!
Sounds like my Nexus' back/menu/home keys...
I have to disagree, I have a cheapo android tablet that mistakes screen-presses more than 50% of the time. This is nothing new if you decide to buy a cheap device (not picking on android - this is the same with any cheapo touch screen).
Maybe you aren't [holding it?] speaking right?
The droidheads will be climbing up the walls with this one, as if they lost one of their own.
Firewalls at the ready The Register! Man, they can be a nasty bunch.
But It's a seriously good phone boys and girls.
That's all I'm going to say, enjoy your bickering.
RE: oh noes
Another itard, another fail!
If you itards paid any attention to the state of the art you'd know that all Apple has done with this phone is catch up. Why would anyone who rejected the form factor and functionality of the iphone 4 in favour of something more functional and more beautiful be aggrieved in any way that a company to which they have no connection has now caught up in the functional areas?
Any way, here's a phone with a 90% score which any "droidhead" can buy for a lot less than Apple's shiny junk if they really do want to change phones.
Take your ihead out of your iarse.
I agree. If it's not broken why try to fix it?
Of course the only real criticism of the iphone 4 was the antenna - which is now fixed. Lovely.
It has a better camera, loads faster and a new shiny talky-app-thing.
What's not to like? Maybe reduce the price a little - but come-on it's Apple we're talking about.
Obviously we would all like Apple to completely blow us away with something new (god knows none of the other manufacturers seem to be able to do this any more)
You really sound quite cross
It's a phone, not a choice of religions. FWIW, I can't see that buying a 4s if you have a 4 makes a lot of sense in most cases.
Jeez man, chill out.
You're starting to sound more like a roidhead rather than the droidhead you truly are. I'm worried for you now.
Chill? Tell me though...
Why would anyone be climbing the walls because apple brought out a new phone?
I'm only feeding the trolls.
@ Craigness 13:47
No...*you* are the troll. Shame you can't see that.
I like it
I picked one up on the launch day (lucky drive-by) for work, not really expecting much - iPhone 4 is still pretty fresh in the speed stakes, nobody's really pushed it to date.
I have to say though, while we're getting to a point where most people wouldn't notice the difference between the two, any speed lushes out there will really appreciate the difference. It's seriously snappy, and I can't imagine what next year's processors are going to be like. The big difference I think it being so used to getting new PC hardware every 2-3 years and not seeing much of a difference, because software just evolves to consume the extra power, whereas here we're seeing more efficient base OS + more powerful hardware.
Note I'm just talking about general OS and UI performance - haven't seen anything push the GPU yet, and our own tests are inconclusive as we've not even fully migrated to optimised ES2.0 yet.
Really looking forward to seeing Android manufacturers catch up (it has to even out sooner or later, no?).
Which Android phones have you tested and found to be slower?
More like you need to Wakeup.
The iPhone4s is a catchup to the Galaxy SII (or the HTC Sensation), and it doesn't really do that too well, mosting WAY more and still being inferior.
Hell, even the Experia Arc S at half the price is better....
Sure, but the biggest thing wrong with the Galaxy S2 is that it doesn't run iOS. This on its own justifies the price of the iPhone IMO. I had a Galaxy S2 for 4 weeks as a break from my iPhone4, but couldn't get on with it and 'downgraded' (in your eyes) to an iPhone4S which is absolutely spectacular by comparison. The interface seems a lot snappier which is odd considering that on paper the Galaxy S2 should be faster than an iPhone4 with its dual cores. However, the interface is choppy and jerky, and overall just doesn't seem as polished. Likewise the build quality of a Galaxy S2 is shockingly flimsy compared to an Apple device, and the screen is worse (perhaps brighter and bigger, but text looks much worse as the pixels are too big. Most of all, I was disappointed to find that the apps which I use constantly had few if any equivalent on the Android and rarely did it feel joined up enough to complete an entire workflow. Most big name apps are just missing! The whole thing reminded me more than a bit of Windows mobile. Perhaps it could have been rooted or modded to work properly, but I don't have the time to be faffing around with that. Therefore, I have tried the alternatives, and feel I have chosen the right platform for now.
Sounds like you were using the Galaxy Ace or something.
The Galaxy SII is better and faster in every respect to either the iPhone4 or the 4s...
Sure you are loving the Siri gimmick (that's basically Vlingo), and you now have the Apple copy of the Android notifications, but still no widgets? Comeon.....
Definitely a revolutionary phone ... especially when you think of that country full of canon fodder and little oil.
I wonder where are the "radio engineers" that repeatedly commented on the iPhone 4 antenna threads saying it was a failed design - having the user touching the antenna with their hand would never work.
Well this review shows Apple just made it work. Seems you're were a bit daft.
Made it work... by redesigning the antenna to avoid the problems highlighted with the previous one. Problems they denied were ever there.
A failed design gets replaced and that somehow justifies denying it was a failed design.
They made it work by splitting the antenna in two and making it favour the one that you're not touching, or touching least. They didn't change the laws of physics.
I've held the 4S using both hands making sure I was touching both antennas for a good 30 seconds and the signal remained the same.
Explain that then.
As I recall..
The signal bar is a pretty icon not a meter?
As David Ward suggests they may well have re-written their signal strength meter to make it a bit more realistic.
From the pictures it looks like the phone's antenna is split into four (WiFi? Bluetooth?), in which case users stand a much better chance of not interfering with signal in this model. Are you sure that you were covering them all?
It looks like they've done well in mitigating the antenna problems in the 4S and most users will likely have no problems but, unless Apple have found a way of altering the dielectric properties of human flesh the antenna in contact with it still won't be efficient.
Is why I didn't buy it. Internet radio just doesn't work on a train commute. If it had FM, I would have bought it. The day it was announced, I ordered a Nokia N8. 12 month contract, free phone, £25 per month. Couldn't be happier with my choice. I use a Mac and it syncs well, the radio is excellent, and my other main requirement, a good camera, is met too. So there! Saying that, I'll be getting me wife the 4S for Christmas...
Lovely thing, I'd buy one like a shot if they stop pretending that 16GB of flash memory costs 100 quid
Just buy a micro SD card - problem solved
I really don't know why nobody has thought of this, it's the same for every phone out there.
Huh? What's that? No! Really?! Are you *absolutely* sure? They did give the phone 90%, you know. Well, how very strange...
>pretending that 16GB of flash memory costs 100 quid
You are paying £100 for an extra 16gb (£6,50/gb) or £200 for an extra 48gb (£4,17/gb).
The going rate for a 1.8" SSD seems to be about £1.75/gb* at which rate the 64gb model should come in at £548, which is probably a much more reasonable price.
* Note these are prices available to the average punter rather than, say, a big multinational fruit styled computer company.
The difference between a SSD and the iPhone is that - due to extreme space limitations (see teardown for reference) - Apple uses a single Flash chip for the entire capacity.
That's also why there's no 128GB iPhone, single chips carrying 64Gigabytes have barely made it out of the labs.
So unless you know the cost of high speed single chip 64GB flash modules, all your calculations are a bit useless.
I think the calculations are fine - any approximate calc will clearly show the price hike is totally unjustified on any other grounds than they want to gouge a large profit out of dimwits who want to have the 'biggest' iPhone. Its also quite clear why there is no memory expansion through microSD on the iPhone.
The idea that Apple use some magic single nand chip that is incredible rare and costly is ridiculous - being pedantic they are MLC modules so not a 'single' chip per se. iSupply showed the iPhone 4 used $27 16Gb chips, the price will have dropped a lot since then, I doubt Apple paid much more than that for the 32Gb chip in the new 4S.
All of which goes to show why Steve Jobs was so rich - he was a good businessman and knew how to fleece a captive market when he saw one. None of which makes the iPhone a bad phone - just not that good a budget choice :-)
I haven't decided whether to buy one or not. Would the internet like to know when I have arrived at a decision?
Yes. Yes we would.
Come on - don't keep us waiting...
What did they give the iPhone4?
Seems an important comparison...
How quaint. It also omits a rotary dial, and a decent CRT, and I can't find the cassette slot anywhere.
If you had a radio on your phone you'd know what he means.
I had a radio on virtually every phone prior to owning the iPhone1 and never actually used it (other than testing that it works) but then I don't listen to radio :)
90%? For something slightly better? Although this is excellent work by the reviewer, who managed to fill out three pages of different ways of saying 'it's slightly better'. And the Reg Hardware Editor even has to come into the comments to defend the iPhone and the review. Has El Reg finally bowed the knee to Cupertino?
@Him over there
Slightly better than very good is still at least very good.
Do you quit in a strop each year because your pay rise makes your salary only "slightly better" than the year before? Bastards. They paid you 40 grand last year so you should demand at least 80 or it is just not fucking good enough.
Siri - Useful when out and about
Siri is "useful when out and about" - yeah right! Siri needs to send a chunk of data to and from apple even for setting internal reminders or dictating messages.
Siri *might* be useful in a world of high-penetration, low-congestion HSDPA, but I've yet to find such a place - especially when on the move!
Yes, it's expensive - but you get a lot back when you sell it.
32Gb iPhone 4S = £319 + £36 per month (Vodafone) for a one year contract. 32Gb iPhone 4 sold for £320. Previous SIM-only Vodafone monthly bill was £20, with no WiFi hotspots. Also, the warranty had expired. So cost of upgrading = £180 over the year, plus WiFi hotspots and a warranty.
For that I get much faster web access (it may be a combination of the A5 processor and the new antenna, but it makes a huge difference when out of WiFi range), a far better camera (though I miss the slightly wider angle of the 4) and Siri - which is amazing for a few things (being read and dictating text messages in the car, doing a quick response to emails, and - a small thing, but incredibly useful - making reminders, calendar events and setting alarms).