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The Apple iPhone 4S 16GB might not be the most exciting iPhone ever, but don’t write it off: the improved camera, faster processor, and the addition of the Siri personal assistant make for one powerful smartphone. The iPhone 4S is largely identical in design to the iPhone 4. It can feel bulky at times, but it is a solid feel in the hand (something that's not always there with skinny phones). A thinner phone may be prettier, but it's what's inside that really counts.
A design gripe is that the iPhone's display is beginning to look rather small when compared with some of the Android competition. The 4S's screen has remained at 3.5 inches since the first edition appeared in 2007. At that time, it was plenty big, but smartphone screens have crept above the 4-inch mark. The "Retina display” also greatly improves the sharpness, clarity, and visible detail of images. The iPhone display fades in bright sunlight. The phone’s iOS 5 fixed just about everything that was annoying about iOS 4. However, the lack of innovation in the update was disappointing. Features like tabbed browsing, a single view for notifications, and the ability to use the volume rocker as a camera shutter button are long-standing Android features. Still, iOS 5 works well, runs smoothly, and is an overall strong update, and that’s really what’s most important.
The 4S inherits all the standard iPhone features from the preceding models, including the calendar, voice memos, weather and stock apps, the various clock features, Google Maps, the compass, text messaging and e-mail, and the Notes app. The iPod player is there as well; the 4S splits your music and video libraries into two separate icons. In another change, the 4S also offers an upgrade to Bluetooth 4.0. Though still a growing technology, Bluetooth 4.0 uses less power and will enable the iPhone to talk to small battery-operated devices. The feature that Apple is touting most is the new voice assistant called Siri. It doesn't completely replace the current Voice Control feature, but it certainly does a whole lot more. Basically, Siri both follows commands and answers your requests for information.
The iPhone 4's 5-megapixel camera was already great - especially when you add a third party app - but the 4S’ is significantly better. The 8-megapixel camera offers autofocus, flash, f/2.4 aperture lens, and a backside-illuminated CMOS sensor that allows 73 percent more light than the previous sensor and should deliver better low-light performance. A hybrid IR filter is also onboard for better color accuracy. Apple also claims the new camera performs 33 percent faster than the iPhone 4's camera, and the A5 processor has a built-in image processor that adds face detection and 26 percent better auto white balance. Colors were brighter, and the focus was a little sharper with a bit less pixelation. Not surprisingly, the camera also does better in low light, though flash continues to be a little overpowering at times. The iPhone camera's user interface is clean and simple, but a little too simple. You can’t tweak camera settings; it only offers you one other shooting mode, HDR (high dynamic range). The new grid option in iOS 5, however, uses a bit of augmented reality to help you take level photos.
While with the camcorder boost to 1080p, you can only capture video in 1080p. True, 1080p looks better than 720p, but you might not want to always record video in such a high resolution. Data speeds for the 4S are double those for the iPhone 4, at 5.8 megabits per second for uploads and 14.4 mbps for downloads. The 4S can intelligently switch between two antennas for even better call quality, as well as faster download speeds.
Call quality was a bit on the disappointing side. Voices sounded hollow and unnatural. No experience of dropped calls, however. Data speeds were sluggish, but users were able to carry a full conversation without losing the signal. The 4S’s new antenna technology seems to solve any “you’re holding it wrong” antenna issues. Despite the more powerful processor, the company claims that the smartphone will be able to provide 8 hours of talk time over 3G, 14 hours over 2G, 6 hours of browsing over 3G, 9 hours via Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback, and 40 hours of music playback. The promised battery times are impressive, but manufacturer promises can be just that: promises. Some 4s owners have come forward to complain of poor battery life. According to those owners, their phones will last just a few hours, even when the phone is in standby mode. Overall, the Apple iPhone 4S 16GB might not be the most exciting update, but the improved camera, faster performance and the addition of Siri make it a top-ranking smartphone.