Hands-on impressions of the iPhone 4S

Fri, Oct 7, 2011


Our invitation to Apple’s iPhone event this past week must have gotten lost in the mail. But it’s all good, I’m sure Apple will hit us up next time.

In the meantime, some of the lucky outlets that did get an invite to Apple’s town hall meeting began publishing some of their initial impressions of the iPhone 4S after getting some hands-on time with the device.

First up is Engadget, who we must say, had the most up to date liveblog out of any we frequented this go-around. They were seemingly 30 seconds behind what was going on on stage whereas other sites had 5 minute delays at some points.

Their impression:

We were able to spend a few quality moments with the refreshed iPhone 4 here at Apple’s campus, the Sprint flavor no less, and as you might expect… it’s an iPhone 4. But S-ier. Much in the same way that the3GS improved the overall experience of the 3G, the 4S does likewise compared to the existing 4. The dual-core A5 chip is a laudatory improvement, and whisking about pages, loading the camera application and launching — well, just about everything — just feels zippier. As it should. The other major change, the antennas, weren’t readily different at a glance, but as Mr. Cook stated, you’d have to be iFixit to notice (and we’re sure they will).

We can’t lie – it’s nice to see Tim Cook giving a shout out to iFixit.

Notably, Engadget writes that the most impressive part of their iPhone 4S experience was Siri, which they couldn’t stump no matter how outlandish their questions became.

Slashgear also got some hands-on time with the iPhone 4S and they were equally impressed with the device’s speed, noting that webpages rendered instantly, for example. And they, too, were taken aback by Siri, which to borrow a cliche’d phrase at this point, just seems to work.

Siri makes promises that we’ve learnt to be wary about over the years, but after a brief test we’re surprisingly impressed. Easily activated, with a new microphone icon on the regular on-screen keyboard, Siri managed just what it did on-stage during the keynote. We could ask it local information, such as the weather or to find nearby stores, while online searching and complex questions for Wolfram Alpha were handled with little delay. Speed can be the killer for services like this – people just won’t wait if their phone takes 30 seconds to look up an answer – but Siri delivered in just seconds.

Even complex tasks, like accurate transcription, seems comfortably within Siri’s abilities. It’s the interaction between existing data – like calendar entries – and new commands, such as setting up appointments by voice that are likely to really impress users, however. Usability is slick as well: whether you’re in the lock screen or the homescreen, you can hold the iPhone 4S to your ear and Siri will automatically kick in. Again, we’ll have to put it through its paces when we review the iPhone 4S, but first-impressions are very, very good.



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