Pining for the metaphorical fjords

Today is Wednesday, October 12, 2011. The day iOS 5 is released upon the Apple faithful—a group still smarting from the passing of Steve Jobs just seven days prior. Will I upgrade my stalwart 3GS to the Siri-fied new operating system? Well, not if my main goal is to get Siri, since it laughs at my device and its ancient, 2009 internals. ("Siri, where can I find a good burger near this location?" "I sense you have no A5, so shut up and go fix me a turkey pot pie!") The issue is whether I want to forgo, for now, my jailbroken goodies in exchange for iOS 5 shininess. Granted, a workable jailbreak method will probably be available before I'm even done writing this column, but I want to know Infinifolders is just a restore away before I go down the road less traveled yet again. Which I suppose makes it rather well traveled. Hmm.

Anyway, while iOS appears to be a rather sweet update—if for wireless syncing and updating alone—the real object of my desire won't appear for two more days: The iPhone 4S. And when I say appear, I don't mean in my own hands. Possibly in your hands. And most decidedly in some German hands that actually got their handsets yesterday. It's true. Even though my 3GS now 28 months old, on its second battery, constantly butting up against its 32GB max capacity and limping along at 802.11g speeds, I was not one of the million or so folks to pony up for a pre-order.

Why? Because iPhones are 'spensive, man.

So, yes, the only reason I will not have an iPhone 4S to review for your reading pleasure six weeks after you've forgotten all the reviews you've already read, is that I'm cheap. Or broke. Or doing six grand worth of siding work to my house. Responsibility blows.

While the 4S met with a semi-collective "meh" upon its announcement last week, the pre-sales data obviously indicates a lot of pent-up demand for a new iPhone model. Mainly, I'm sure, from fellow 3GS owners who were only halfway through their mandatory 2-year sentence with AT&T when the 4 rolled out in 2010. A lot of folks seemed disappointed that the 4S wasn't called a 5 and didn't come in a new, teardrop shape that had leaked earlier this past summer. Personally, I'm glad the 4S has the same case design as the 4 as I was not entirely impressed with the supposed iPhone 5 chassis. The symmetrical design of the double-glass front/back and the metal frame is just too nice a design to chuck after a year.

Of course, what I really want is speed. That dual core A5 chip, under-clocked though it may be in this implementation, is still a nice bit of kit. I already think Infinity Blade plays quite well on my 3GS, so I can only imagine what it'll be like with the 4S's graphic horsepower and Retina display. I want 802.11n so I can, at long last, have an all-N household network and not living some sort of WiFi time warp when Justin Bieber was a phenom. On second thought...

Naturally, I want the Facebook app to crash in record time.

I also want the camera. I have three kids. Which, activity-wise, equates to 36 adults or 192 gerbils. Grabbing my Nikon D80 or Canon HF100 at a moment's notice often means the moment is gone. And the slow startup speed of the 3GS camera makes it of little help, too. While an 8-megapixel senor is nice, I suppose, I'm more geeked about the f/2.4 aperture lens with five elements, the 1080p video, face detection and A5-powered video stabilization. On a frickin' phone, cha cha. No, the iPhone 4S won't replace my stand-alone gear, but I won't feel so bad about leaving said gear behind when I don't feel like being a photo nerd. Or viewed as the neighborhood perv down at the park. And even though it took Apple five revisions to do so, the volume-as-shutter-button feature is a welcome addition.

But the 4S will, like all my Apple-related longings at the moment, have to wait. After all, I can't just upgrade my 3GS and leave my wife behind. Although she could make do with the 16GB instead of the 64GB version I require. Yes, require. But that's still a chunk of cash that won't be completely offset by selling our current phones on eBay. And, of course, I also need a new Mac. And an iPad. Although I am waiting for the iPad 3 to come out before taking the plunge, but that's a project and topic for another column. But until I decide to stop writing those COBRA checks, my 4S shall remain, as Debbie Gibson once opined, only in my dreams.



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