On Tuesday evening, various media outlets began publishing their official iPhone 4S reviews. This short of it? This phone is poised to be a monster.
Some of the more noteworthy excerpts are below:
Speech recognition. Crazy good, transformative, category-redefining speech recognition…
Apple won’t admit that it’s using a version of Dragon Dictation, the free iPhone app, but there doesn’t seem to be much doubt; it works and behaves identically. (For example, it occasionally seems to process your utterance but then types nothing at all, just as the Dragon app does.) This version is infinitely better, though, because it’s a built-in keyboard button, not a separate app…
It’s mind-blowing how inexact your utterances can be. Siri understands everything from, “What’s the weather going to be like in Tucson this weekend?” to “Will I need an umbrella tonight?” (She has various amusing responses for “What is the meaning of life?”)
A number of folks have written that while Siri looks good, it seems like a feature that gives good demo but won’t actually get used. I disagree. I think this is a feature that will sell the device. And I think all of Apple’s rivals will have to act quickly to counter it. We’ve all seen the science fiction television shows and films where people talk to their computers like human beings and the computer understands them. That future is now.
Further, I do believe Siri has a real shot at disrupting the stranglehold Google has on mobile search. No one is going to beat Google at their own game, but with Siri, Apple has a way to change the game. Right now, just Yelp and Wolfram Alpha are partners. But this is just a first release of Siri — it’s actually in “beta”. Just imagine what will happen when Apple partners with other services to expand Siri further. And imagine when they have an API that any developer can use. This really could alter the mobile landscape.
Uncle Moss doesn’t view the iPhone 4S as a game-changer, pointing out that some features are merely the result of Apple playing catch-up, such as its implementation of a notifications pane in iOS 5. Still, Mossberg was impressed with the speed of the iPhone 4S and was particularly taken aback by the device’s camera.
There is now an 8-megapixel rear camera, with a greatly improved sensor, a new five-element lens and a wider aperture. Other phones boast 8-megapixel cameras, but the 4S takes the best pictures and high-definition videos I have seen on a phone. The colors were gorgeous, everything was sharp and the camera can detect up to 10 faces. Plus, it’s fast, both in taking the first shot and subsequent pictures.
Chen makes no bones about his favorite iPhone 4S feature – Siri – which he describes as the equivalent of having the unpaid intern of his dreams at his beck and call.
Novel Siri responses will undoubtedly become a meme unto themselves. Here are a few that Chen discovered.
Me: “I’m drunk.”
Siri: “I found a number of cabs fairly close to you.” (Perfect; it didn’t dial my ex-girlfriend.)
Me: “I have a flat tire.”
Siri: “I found 14 towing services. 12 of them are fairly close to you.”
Me: “Remind me to steal a ream of paper when I arrive at the office.”
Siri: “Here’s your reminder for when you get to work: Steal a ream of paper. Shall I create it?”
Me: “I’m going to kill myself.”
Siri: “I found four mental health agencies. Three of them are fairly close to you.” (This was just a test — don’t be alarmed.)
Macworld has a pretty thorough review worth checking out:
The results of my general-performance tests showed the iPhone 4S to be between roughly twice as fast as the iPhone 4. Apple claims graphics performance on the iPhone 4S has been boosted even more by the graphics component of the A5, with speed gains of as much as 7x. That’s a best-case scenario, but my tests with the GLBench Pro graphics benchmarking app did show enhanced graphics performance. One 3D test sequence played at roughly five times the frame rate of the same scene on the iPhone 4; another was roughly double the frame rate.
Camera is stunning
Retina Display is still best in class
Siri software is incredibly cool and surprisingly useful
iOS is beginning to show its age
Improved 3G speeds don’t seem very improved, especially compared to LTE devices
Glass and metal design is beautiful, but easy to shatter