back to article Apple iPhone 4S

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 …

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  1. LarsG

    EXPENSIVE

    VERY very expensive for what it is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      so? you only have to buy it once and use it for many, as I saw a friend of mine *using iphone 1 till this summer, totally satisfied with it.

      1. Calum Morrison
        WTF?

        That's amazing logic; so what you're saying is that a Bentley Continental is actually quite cheap if you use it "many"? Why didn't I think of that..?

        I wonder if you use a cheap Android handset "many" does it represent even better value?

      2. Craigness
        WTF?

        Re: Buy it once

        Just because you're allowed to use it for a few years doesn't mean it's less expensive than a less expensive phone which you are allowed to use for a few years.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          allowed to use <> will be used

          I'm just saying that the roi may be the same because you use it longer:

          my observation is that android owners are changing their phone more often than iphone owners, in my circle of acquaintances that's all. so iphone may be subjectively more loved. Hey I used to lease a new car every 2-3 years when they were opel, peugeot or even vw, changing them without any regret. My souped up audi is now 3 years old and i'll keep it for 3 more - it still feels like new and fitting like a glove, i just love it, see the parallel?

        2. John_C

          TCO

          Yes it's expensive to buy up front, but for whatever reason iPhones hold their value very very well. That means if you can stump up the cash in the first place you can sell it on for much more than the 'droid competetion when the time comes to change.

          And before the usual accusations of fanboy-ism fly I sold my iPhone 4, bought a same-age Galaxy S for half the amount I got for the iPhone and pocketed the rest, a decision I'm still happy with.

          1. tmTM

            Very True

            In fact an iphone can work out quite cheap in some cases, if you buy the phone outright and get a cheaper sim only deal when the new one is released your old handset has only depreciated by £100 or so, making the upgrade not very expensive.

            So those that want to have the latest phone all the time are not badly stung by the need to buy a new phone every year.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So ?

      A friend lent me his Aston Martin DB9 for a few months. It's expensive. The Nissan GT-R is faster and seats 4 people in comfort, has more toys, cost less and is likely to be more reliable and cost less to run. I still like the DB9 - maybe it's irrational but it's a valid choice. Reviews can consider they way things work, look, how you feel using one - I wonder how El Reg would review a DB9 compared to a GT-R - both 90% ?

    3. sheep++;

      Apple Expensive

      I don't own any Apple products because I think they're overpriced. Don't suppose I can complain about the general quality, but that's a subjective opinion, since I haven't used one.

      1. JB

        Yes, Apple stuff is expensive and, arguably, overpriced. But you have to admit the engineering, build quality, design etc is outstanding

    4. The Specialist
      Gimp

      RE: EXPENSIVE

      I can afford it and I want one - these are my criteria. Do I need your approval to buy one? No, I did not think so.

    5. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Samsung Galaxy S2 is £419 on Play.com. Hardly a massively cheaper deal to go with Android is it?

      Not all of us believe that owning a mobile phone is hobby that requires a few hours a month building and upgrading firmware as most Android users seem to advocate.

      1. CmdrX3

        Well actually... Yes!

        The 16GB iPhone is £80 more expensive to start, however to upgrade to 32GB, requires a cheap memory card popped into the S2's card slot. It will cost you an extra £100 to get 32GB with Apple.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Giles Jones

        FWIW, I haven't changed the firmware on my Android phone once, I have no intention of doing so at the moment but have option to if I so wish and I can promise you that the manufacturer will not be actively attempting to brick the hardware I *own* as and when they release new firmware.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So is a Canon 5D MkII, bloody expensive for a little black box that just snaps pictures and videos. I wanted a 5D for nearly a year so I finally bought one, can I justify it? Only so far as it has given me the much needed kick up the arse to improve my understanding of my number one hobby. It keeps me happy, less stressed and gives me something to look forward to at the weekends.

      You can't take it with you when you go and you put up with having to work for a living where's the harm in a little overpriced luxury once in a while? I personally don't want an iPhone but good luck to those who get pleasure from them, what real harm does it do the rest of us?

      1. No, I will not fix your computer
        Stop

        @5D Mk2

        Your analogy is bad for two reasons, firstly a case could be made for the iPhone 4S being the best smartphone on the market as it ticks most of the boxes for most people (yes, it's not everybodys cup of tea, including me, I have a Galaxy, but I wouldn't kick it out of bed), pretty much the only argument against it is price, if it was "free on a £10 contract" I suspect that most people would have one, the 5D has awful focus and less than 4fps, great for studio work (full frame is the only thing going for it), useless for sports, I have a 7D and a 5D for this reason, probably both being replaced by a pair of Mk3 mid next year when neither is a compromise, the point is the iPhone 4S has hardware over and above what the software requires, it has features that many users will never usr or need, it is expensive luxury, but the 5D is still lacking.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Of course it's overpriced, there are better high end Android phones for half the money (Xperia Arc S, Galaxy SII, HTC Sensation to name a few), and the only "new" thing is Siri, which everyone can already get for Android, iOS and surprisingly even Windows Mobile (i'm sure the10 people stupid enough to buy one will be chuffed). It's called VLingo and does the same thing..

      Epic Failure for all he idiots that slept out to be first in line to buy a phone that's already playing second fiddle to better and cheaper high end Android handsets.

      1. Little Poppet
        Thumb Up

        It's not about Price. but Quality

        Yes there are better specced Android phones out there, BUT, even with that state of the art hardware, the quality of the User Experience and Interface is no where near as fluid or refined as iOS.

        That's the truth.

        Apple are not going to price match any of the competition, they're clearly high-end - and they've been getting away with it for decades. It would be extremely stupid for them to price drop, why should they? Considering iPhone sales trump any other single handset out of existence.

        iPhone > Android High-End

  2. Steve Evans

    This website is a strange one... You publish a "Ten... Androids to outshine the iPhone 4S" and then review the 4S and give it 90%.

    If you keep bouncing across the fence like that you're gonna get splinters!

    1. Graham Dawson

      You must be new. The only editorial line The Register seems to have is "barbecue the sacred cow!"

      And long may it stay that way.

      1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

        Re:

        Steak for dinner with lashings of sauce.

        1. Kevin Fairhurst
          Joke

          How very dare you! Sauce with steak? Enjoy the meat for what it is instead of drowning it in alternative dressings!

          (etc etc)

    2. ratfox Silver badge
      WTF?

      So what?

      You think web sites have to pick a side, and declare their everlasting allegiance to one cult?

      The Reg has many contributors, who undoubtedly have very different opinions. I for one prefer it if the editors do not enforce purity of dogma across the board, thankyouverymuch.

    3. melt

      I couldn't see anything in the site FAQ that said The Register needs to have an editorial preference towards one type of smartphone?

  3. jake Silver badge

    Whatever.

    My 11 year old Nokia 5185 still makes & receives phone calls. Even in Sonoma's "dead zones", unlike so-called "smart phones".

    Remind me again why I ought to downgrade my telephone?

  4. Kevin7
    WTF?

    £500 upgrade for a slightly better camera and voice activation that almost no one will use? May be if you're contract has expired this might possibly make sense, other wise I can't see the value.

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re:

      Bear in mind that's only 500 quid if you buy one unlocked and contract free. Get one from a network operator on contract and it's a lot less. Still not cheap - by a long chalk - it's true.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Still works out the same on contract

        Work out how much you pay on contract and Apple will still get their 500 pounds.

        1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Still works out the same on contract

          True - all phone manufacturers do.

      2. nsld
        Facepalm

        @tony

        £500 unlocked versus a 24 month contract often with a buy in, I would suspect your paying upwards of £700 for the phone on contract versus an unlocked one.

        Contracts never make for cheaper phones!

        1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: @tony

          Of course not, just cheaper phones 'up front'.

        2. annodomini2
          FAIL

          @nsld

          Depends...

          With an Iphone, typically the contract is so expensive, no

          You still need to pay for calls, texts and data with that:

          So the phone costs say £400 retail, or £25 a month on an 18m contract with a free phone (yes they do exist!).

          Yes the total is £450, so it's more expensive you say, but if the same minutes, texts and data contract would cost say £15/month

          Buying the phone separately and then paying for the contract would cost you £670 not £450.

          So the net effect is you save £180 on the phone.

          1. Giles Jones Gold badge

            True, but it gives you the ability to change providers to get a better deal or go with a decent PAYG operator like GiffGaff.

        3. D@v3

          @nsld

          True, but for that extra £200+ over 24 months, your also getting all of your voice, txts and data. Which, if you buy direct and unlocked, you then have to pay for on top of the £500

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Minutes and data

            The reality is not everyone needs all those minutes and data and even if you did there are PAYG plans which offer them, e.g. 3 gives 300 minutes, 3000 texts and unlimited data for £15. So I buy a 4S for 500 and 24x15 topups = £860.

            Still on 3, if I were to take a contract with them I pay £99 up front + 24x35 = £939.

            The contract offers more minutes (2000 vs 300) so if you were a heavy user it might be justified. But if you're not, why spent £80 more over two years for a network locked phone and be stuck in a contract that prevents you jumping if a better deal appears elsewhere?

            1. David Barrett Silver badge

              Good point, this is exactly why I am currently living in a box for the next 10 years and trying to save 300k to buy a house outright instead of getting a mortgage...

              Ok, so a house is a slightly bigger investement but the idea is the same, if you can buy outright its going to be cheaper, but thats not going to be an option for everyone.

              Do I have £500 right now?

              no.

              If I did would I blow it all on on a phone?

              No.

              Would I be willing to pay a bit extra to spread the cost over 10mo - 2 yr?

              Yes.

              Ps. I didnt do this, I went down the middle and got a cheaper winmo phone on contract. £25 per month 18 mo, no upfront cost Probably works out at +£100 the cost of the handset over the life of the phone, but I can think of many things Id rather spend a wad of cash on in one go which win out over a phone!

      3. Velv Silver badge
        FAIL

        And buying one outright for 500 IS the cheapest way to get one.

        24 months at £37 a month is £888. And don't claim "ah, but you get all those minutes and data". How many people actually come close to using anywhere near that? (few and far between before some idiot replies "I do"). Most people use less than you would get for £10 a month.

        Not bashing the jPhone - same applies to all handsets - the cheapest way to get one is to buy it outright and get a cheap tariff for what you actually use. Remember the networks are trying to make MONEY out of you. Why do you think they prefer to get you on a contract - they make more money that way

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Faster CPU, improved reception too.

      But name me a smartphone (Android or otherwise) released recently that hasn't just had a faster CPU, better screen or better camera compared to the last one?

      The fact is, there's not much left to upgrade on phones. They may be toying with projectors and 3D cameras. But a 3D camera is still just a camera upgrade.

  5. David Hicks
    WTF?

    So Siri was an App....

    ... and yet now is the killer feature of the new model?

    How does that work? Was it pulled for everyone else?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Siri the old app is not the same as the Siri in the phone.

      The old app didn't talk back at all it was just text, didn't read your texts, didn't set up up reminders (with location), etc etc plus it was worse at voice recognition.

      If you want something like the old app get Vlingo on the app store (but keep in mind it's crap compared to Siri)

  6. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Devil

    I'm shocked

    Positively shocked. El Reg giving thumbs up and 90% to newest Apple invention? This will change the course of history!

    Well done, Apple!

    1. BorkedAgain
      Joke

      Invention

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So.. basically

    A bit faster, slightly better camera and if you want to use voice commands you have to buy it because Apple have stopped you using it on anything else. Hmm..

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: So.. basically

      "A bit faster, slightly better camera"

      That pretty much defines every new smartphone release for the past two or three years.

      1. Thomas 4

        And that

        Is why smartphone design has stagnated over the past 2 or 3 years. There is almost no innovation left in smartphone design now - the Experia Play experiments with PSP technology and the Motorola Atrix at least flirts with the idea of powering a laptop.

        But the rest? Flatscreen, a couple of buttons, call me when a new processor comes out. I'd like to see El Reg reign in its scores for new smartphones and only award 85-90% for phones that genuinely have innovative features and ideas. Regurgitating an existing design (please, slobbering fanbois, this applies to HTC's efforts as well as Apple's), no matter how fast the processor is or how well it's made, should net 75% tops.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Thomas

          Your logic is a little flawed I would say.

          To get a decent score a phone does not *have* to innovate. It just has to be very good.

          We all know the top-end Android phones are now really, really good, but very few of them have innovated anything (except a bigger screen/faster processor) but are you saying they should all get lower scores because of this?

          1. Thomas 4

            @AC

            Yes.

            Take the article regarding the "10 Androids to outshine the iPhone 4S" . A large proportion of those are the the generic thin, big screen, little frills slab design *that is identical to every other smartphone design out there*. Do not get me wrong, quality *IS* important but there comes a point when one high quality slab design is much the same as another high quality slab design.

            The very best scores should only be given to phones that *try something truly different* and are of high quality, rather than just a standard design of high quality.

      2. Annihilator
        Meh

        @Tony

        ""A bit faster, slightly better camera" That pretty much defines every new smartphone release for the past two or three years."

        Perhaps, but would it have killed you to give an indication of how much faster? Lines such as "applications open in a trice" and "content is downloaded fast" are utterly meaningless and bordering on the good old hifi reviews of "the sound was warm and believable". As I understood it, the iPhone 4 was fast too.

  8. foo_bar_baz
    Linux

    The problem

    Though it's white, it's not distinguishable enough from the iPhone 4. Because it's just an update the difference with next iPhone model will be even more pronounced.

    Why are these problems? Because you get a 2-year contract with one of these. When you lease it (nobody buys iPhones) you don't stand out from the crowd. Down the line you'll look out of touch. The reason people get these is to look hip. Features don't matter.

    1. Adam T

      2-year contract

      I got mine on a 12 month contract (£309 + £35/mo + £6/mo data), from O2.

      The iPhone 4 from last year I bought unlocked... I'd have done the same, but shipping times just went potty after the initial pre-orders.

      This will likely be my last year with O2 though - Three have slightly better deals, and I suspect with iPhone 5 the competition will step up again. O2 don't seem overly interested in keeping customers.

      As for what's important to people upgrading, I think most of the upgraders are pre-iPhone 4 (we know there are still tons of 2nd Gen users from our metrics). Be curious to know how many of those will jump over to Android...shame there's no such thing as reliable market research.

      1. foo_bar_baz

        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.

      2. Can't think of anything witty...

        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.

      3. Alex C
        Holmes

        No contract no-brainer

        Hi All.

        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...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. Adam T

      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.

      1. Peter 48

        desperation

        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.

        1. Silverburn
          FAIL

          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...

        2. Ross 7
          Trollface

          You can legally buy one in Oz?..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Siri

      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).

      1. Annihilator
        Thumb Down

        re: Siri

        "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?

  10. Yet Another Commentard

    Something missing

    Where are the pictures of a post box? I thought that was the standard El Reg camera-on-a-phone calibration tool?

    1. annodomini2

      Maybe the metal thieves nicked it!?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. melt

      > 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...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @pmckean

      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?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh noes

    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.

    1. Craigness
      FAIL

      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.

      http://www.reghardware.com/2011/10/17/review_sony_ericsson_xperia_arc_s/

      Take your ihead out of your iarse.

      1. Chris 3

        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Craigness

        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.

        1. Craigness

          Chill? Tell me though...

          Why would anyone be climbing the walls because apple brought out a new phone?

          I'm only feeding the trolls.

          1. Silverburn
            Trollface

            @ Craigness 13:47

            No...*you* are the troll. Shame you can't see that.

    2. Jason Hall

      @ath0

      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)

  13. Adam T

    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?).

    1. Craigness

      Interesting...

      Which Android phones have you tested and found to be slower?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Android catchup?

      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....

      1. robin thakur 1
        FAIL

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          LOL

          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.....

  14. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Siri errr?

    Definitely a revolutionary phone ... especially when you think of that country full of canon fodder and little oil.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Antenna

    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.

    1. Graham Dawson

      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.

    2. Spiracle

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Spiracle

        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.

        1. David Ward 1
          FAIL

          As I recall..

          The signal bar is a pretty icon not a meter?

        2. Spiracle

          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.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FM radio

    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...

  17. Pat 11

    gouging

    Lovely thing, I'd buy one like a shot if they stop pretending that 16GB of flash memory costs 100 quid

    1. Northern Fop
      Alert

      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...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Rip off

          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 :-)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not decided

    I haven't decided whether to buy one or not. Would the internet like to know when I have arrived at a decision?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC

      Yes. Yes we would.

      Come on - don't keep us waiting...

  19. JDX Gold badge

    What did they give the iPhone4?

    Seems an important comparison...

  20. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    FM radio

    How quaint. It also omits a rotary dial, and a decent CRT, and I can't find the cassette slot anywhere.

    1. Craigness
      FAIL

      If...

      If you had a radio on your phone you'd know what he means.

      1. robin thakur 1
        Meh

        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 :)

  21. Him over there

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @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.

  22. cblondon
    WTF?

    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!

  23. Rupert Stubbs

    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).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The reason people get these is to look hip. Features don't matter."

    I thought the reason people bought iPhones was for the combined hardware/software/ecosystem experience. That's why Apple's level of customer satisfaction scores consistently high.

    Yes, expensive but it's a lovely piece of design and seems to be made to a very high standard. Mine is a year old and is cared for but used without a case (slipcase when in a bag) and still looks like new. Apple's repair costs are remarkably good - new battery £50, new glass £25, reconditioned phone £115.

    Second hand values for iPhones are good as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      New battery £50?

      Mine cost £15 for my HTC

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ha, my *spare* *User changeable* battery for my HTC cost me £15.

  25. Adam Nealis

    @Tony: Nit picking

    "Its now 8Mp, which is good but not exceptional" - There's a lot more to a camera than the number of Mega pixels. Looked at the test shots int he review and the one of the wellies looks awful round the edges.

    "It can still do a lot. Say Text my wife and it will. First time, of course, you have to tell it which of your contacts is your wife" - I think (not 100% sure) that you can set up relationships in the address book. Maybe not on the iPhone itself, but you can in Mac OS X. But it is neat that you can set up "wife" in the way you did.

  26. sheep++;
    Meh

    Grumpy complaint about mobiles

    Why is it that mobile providers all (pretty much) charge a typical £30 per month for a tie-in contract for two years. I bought a great Samsung Galaxy S and paid a bit up front for the phone, but I was quite stupid because the pay up front price added to the monthly cheaper rental ended up costing about the same as just taking the free phone and paying the full monthly fee. I wish some company would come out with cheaper prices and hope then that others will follow.

  27. RonaldK

    "third parties can build functionality into their apps" - I wasn't aware this was possible 'yet'. Is there any proof to support this statement?

  28. 404 Silver badge
    Meh

    Well last week...

    ... I was told I was 'rockin a BlackBerry' (Storm2) by a little college cutie with a 4S.... is that good?

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      Happy

      Little college cuties are always good. The phones are irrelevant.

  29. jef_

    iPhone = expensive is true...

    ...but holds value well (which makes it a high value product). Sold my 3GS for just over £200 a few months ago (having had it for 18 months) and got a Motorola Defy for just over £200, SIM free. Now paying £10 a month for more sms and data than I'll ever need (don't really need any voice minutes!). They're great for non techies too, and bear in mind most people on here are techies of some sort.

  30. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    @G. Jones

    "Not all of us believe that owning a mobile phone is hobby that requires a few hours a month building and upgrading firmware as most Android users seem to advocate."

    It took *many* hours to update my iPhone 3GS to iOS5. First had to update iTunes (a stupidly huge download, as always). Then when I conencted the iPhone it had to go through that whole back-up and sync process (takes quite a while with a 32GB iPhone). It also required two tries to download iOS5 (another massive download), having failed without recourse at the 99% mark of the first attempt. I started at 7PM and it was complete at about 1AM, but I did wander off to do other things so call it 50% duty cycle. My Internet is 'only' 1.3 Mbps - that's part of the problem.

    Still, "a few hours" also fairly describes the iPhone updates.

    Perhaps the new over-the-air process will speed things up...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. andy 45

    @404

    Not after what happened to Blackberry last week -- not cool at all...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    OK then...

    10 Android phones that are all better than the iPhone4s...

    The lowest scoring is 75%, yet this overpriced fashion accessory full of Android copy features (Notification centre) and gimmicks (Siri) gets a 90%

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Overpriced?

      It's cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

      http://www.reghardware.com/2011/10/19/samsung_galaxy_nexus_android_4_smartphone_priced_for_uk/

      Which must mean the Galaxy is an overpriced fashion accessory as well, right? In your transparent droid-bias logic, at what price/spec combo does a smartphone stop being a smartphone and become a fashion accessory?

      Fail back at you.

  33. Ross 7

    Black case vs white case

    I hadn't realised until the lass pointed it out but the white case on the 4 (and 4S looking at your photos) has an extra "bit" above the speaker when compared to the black model. Does anyone have any idea why and what it does? My best (only) guess is that it looks prettier...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ross 7

      The extra slot is what your soul passes through when you sell it to Apple.

    2. Spiracle

      Apple market research showed that users, in order to signal their possession of the latest iPhone 4S more clearly to passers-by, were holding the phone farther away from their heads. The extra grille over the earpiece boosts the volume to more practical levels in this case.

      As a bonus research also showed that white iPhone users were also less susceptible to brain tumours.

    3. robin thakur 1
      Happy

      It's a cut out for the proximity sensor which cannot see through the white paint as well as it can through the darkened glass on the black model. This is what caused the 1 year shipping delay on the White iPhone4 btw. I think it makes it look a tad uglier, but still picked up a white 4S to play with and it is growing on me.

  34. John Sims

    iPhones 4GS or Sony Ericsson Arc S?

    My iPhone 3GS recently suffered the "incompatible accessory" message after going for a swim in a cup of coffee (first phone mishap in 13 years!).

    I'm torn between the Sony Ericsson Arc S and staying on the dark side with Apple and getting a 4S.

    Any constructive opinions and advice anyone please?

    I'll post my choice from whichever device you sway me to purchase.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Errm...

      Sony Ericsson Arc S £300, no walled garden, better hardware and software.

      iPhone 4s £600, Apple lock-down,inferior hardware and software, fashion statement.

      Is it really that hard to decide?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Shitpeas

        New Galaxy Nexus, £524

        http://www.reghardware.com/2011/10/19/samsung_galaxy_nexus_android_4_smartphone_priced_for_uk/

        4S, £499

        Is it really that hard to decide?

        See what I did there?

        Caveat: I actually own an Arc S. And it *is* a good phone. But I don't need to lord it over anyone, nor do I automatically consider other phones inferior. Nor is it (android stores rife with malware? Questionable Sony UI?) or Sony perfect (rootkits saga?). I've also increasingly missed the facetime functionality of my old 4 for example, and the 4 just seemed to have that bit more 'polish' allround.

        Maybe you should take off the Droidboi blinkers once in a while...you're beginning to sound like a fanboi...

    2. John Sims
      FAIL

      Arc S vs 4S

      I've seen a deciding factor today - someone with a Arc S thats given it a good communication thrashing. When she was showing me through it's different features she came to open up a text message convesation - I was dismayed to see a loading symbol for over 5 seconds before it appeared. Now i've never seen that with an iPhone! On my old 3GS I have never deleted a text and have some massive text conversations. So looks like it's going to be a 4S as I'm an impatient bugger. Ironically i'm going to have to wait for O2 to have some in stock!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No delays here.

        Lightening quick.

        Perhaps you were looking at an Arc? (even so very quick).

        More likely you just pulled them claims out your ass.

        1. John Sims

          @Presumptuous Coward

          I certainly don't pull claims out my ass. The owner of the handset demo'd to me a message thread of texts between her and her boyfriend (which she said is a large conversation trail). I don't have that issue on my iPhone with large conversation trails. Maybe you don't have many texts in a conversation thread or maybe her handset is faulty.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed? What for?

    iphone4 was/is fluid. It doesn't stutter. Games run fine. It's plenty fast.

    And now yes! the 4s is even faster!

    ooo kaaay then.. Outside benchmarks and geekly bragging rights, who will notice the difference?

    Are there any 3D global illumination renderers for the iOS I'm not aware of?

    The camera and the antenna thing are nice improvements. But since the basic design (thus screen size) is the same, I fail to see the need to upgrade over the ip4. Unless you let it out of your grasp and let it fall to the concrete, shattering it (I saw it happen few months back, it cracked up).

  36. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's a mighty generous score for a phone

    That only has a 3.5in screen, has a web browser that doesn't reflow text, requires a non-standard SIM, can't be hooked up to a PC as mass storage and starts at £500.

    Any other phone would be probably be crucified for those failings.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget

      That it's locked to iTunes, has proprietary connectors for everything, Locked to Apples cloud storage, unable to run other web browsers due to Apple restrictions, unable to run a file manager and copy files of YOUR choosing, unable to buy ebooks without Apple getting their 30% cut.......

      Like you said, any other manufacturer would be crucified for this... And if it were Sony, the whole article would be a rant about proprietary formats and connectors, followed by a thread of comments about Rootkits from 10 years ago...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Shitpeas

        You really don't like Apple do you? Do you even do any research before you kick off a Droidboi rant?

        - Locked to itunes

        You only need itunes to do system updates, and even that's been phased out in IOS5. My ipad hasn't been near itunes or my PC in months.

        - Locked to iCloud

        Are you? Really? Wanna maybe look that up? It's funny, because I'm not using it. I must be doing something wrong...like using Dropbox.

        - Other web browsers

        ..apart from Opera?

        - No File Manager

        Go to the app store. There are plenty. Most include ability to talk to various network servers.

        - Files of your choosing

        All my books, videos, pictures and audio are DRM-free, and were not purchased through Apple. There was no restriction to my coping to my iDevice, other than its sheer capacity. Various apps also let me play almost any media type as well, so no lock-in there, and some even let me stream directly from the PC so I don't even need to copy the files at all.This is important because I use both IOS and Droid platforms, and I only wanted one non-proprietary format "library".

        Since facts or 'balance' are obviously not hinderances to you, maybe you should have a rant about how any of your "points" - or even how the lack of ability to play flash - is killing Apple's sales?

        1. Peter 48
          FAIL

          Locked to Itunes

          Well try and upload any music, photos or video from your PC to your phone without using itunes. Or copy and access any file of your choosing to the phone without having to go through 15 different apps.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. canardminceblanc
            Boffin

            Not locked to iTunes

            Upload music photos and video from PC to iPhone - use CopyTrans (free software)

            Copy and access files - use Air Sharing app for direct transfer or a cloud app like DropBox

      2. canardminceblanc
        Happy

        No need to bring up rootkits...

        ...although it was actually only 6 years ago not 10. If we want to crucity Sony we have much more recent transgressions than that. Although it's getting hard to keep track of all the Playstation network security breaches so you might need a spreadsheet.

    2. canardminceblanc
      Boffin

      The "non-standard" micro SIM

      is ratified as standard ETSI TS 102 221 V9.0.0, Mini-UICC. Hope that's helped you.

  38. Dave Higgin
    FAIL

    Battery Life

    Had mine for a couple of days now, and the battery life is appalling :( quick search on the web shows its not just me... thankfully due to the distance selling regs it may well be going back to vodafone in the next couple of days. Ill wait until this issue is fixed and then upgrade again.

  39. swanny78
    Meh

    Winpho7

    Dedicated Camera Button?

    Speech recognition?

    Sounds like a windows 7phone to me!

    Microsoft must be flattered - What next people hub on Andriod.....oh hang on.!!

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