For Christmas this year, which is really last year but that seems confusing, my lovely wife did something she had only done once before in our eight years of marriage. That's right, she bought me a piece of consumer electronics. Sort of. She actually gave me an Apple Store gift card in the amount required to purchase a 64GB iPhone 4S with tax. Fantastic.
Seeing as how we celebrated Christmas on December 21 (as we were headed out on our own, myrrh-less pilgrimage the next day), I promptly headed to the nearest Apple Store, which opened at 9 o'clock, and absconded with a white version of Apple's latest Pocket Cray. A few hours later, I realized I was not a 14-year-old future Mrs. Bieber and exchanged the white model for a more Darth-like black.
Then we hit the road and I used it for a couple of weeks.
Then we got home and I promptly returned it.
Yes, it's true. I returned an Apple product. A very good Apple product, mind you. It just, well, wasn't good enough. Rather, it wasn't good enough to use my AT&T upgrade credit on. Or to stick with AT&T for another two years. Or to drop $431 on. Not when a new iPad may be released in a few weeks. Or, and let's be honest, when there's an iPhone 5 gestating for a summer release. Nonetheless, here is my mini-review of a phone I no longer own.
Speed. Wowsers, Penny, the 4S flippin' screams compared to my 3GS. Shocking? Not especially, but it was nice having apps respond nearly instantly instead of mimicking every version of Word ever.
Retina Display. While not new to the 4S or unwitnessed in the wild by yours truly, the Retina display just makes the phone a lot more enjoyable to use. Aside from the resolution, the brightness and color reproduction really stand out. When Apple rolls this high-DPI tech out into other products, I'll be in line. Assuming I have money. Hmm.
Camera. I knew I'd love the upgraded camera, and I wasn't disappointed. I was an Instagramming fool while in KC and Iowa, and the shots were just stunning for such a tiny lens. The HD video was equally impressive, allowing me not to worry about keeping my Canon HF200 close by. Almost kept the phone just because of this. Until I remembered I could put that $431 towards a Panasonic DMC-GH2.
Siri. Cool tech that I may eventually use often. Or not. When it works, it's quite nifty and more convenient than typing in queries. But it's not yet the Majel Barrett we all hope it will be some day.
Lack of phone-specific upgrades. Honestly, a lot of the new stuff on the iPhone 4S is actually part of iOS 5. Since my 3GS runs that OS just swimmingly, I'm not missing out on software enhancements. Except for location-based reminders, I think. And while it would be nice to be reminded to pick up milk on my way home from the meth lab, it's not something to coveted. You know, unlike meth.
When the 4S came out, the general consensus amongst the nerd blogs was that owners of the 4 should wait for the 5, but 3GS owners should probably go ahead and make the jump. Frankly, if you've been using your 3GS for 30 months without much of an issue, I'd suggest waiting 6 or 7 more and going for the iPhone 5. Because if you're the type of person who has the money and desire to always have the latest tech toys, you already pawned off your 3GS on eBay long ago. The rest of us could use a little more bang for our fanboy bucks.