Should new acquaintance be forgot

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.

Thumbs up:

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.

Thumbs meh:

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.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • Abdulahad
    • 8 years ago

    My brother loves Apple products, he recently got the 4s.
    I love good products, I bought the Samsung Galaxy SII.
    Now upon seeing my Samsung, he wants to swap phones.
    It looks good, works right but I just can’t get the idea of doing away with my Samsung.. holding the 4s would feel like sending me 6-foot under.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    I heard a rumour that the iPhone 6 was coming out. Might as well skip the 5 and wait for the 6.

    • JohnC
    • 8 years ago

    Meh… I had iPhone 4, then tried the 4S and purchased it and I am very glad I did that and don’t feel sorry for the $$$ I’ve spent for better speed, better antenna + better camera (never cared about “Siri” gimmick). When the iPhone 5 will come out, I’ll try it out and if I’ll like it – I’ll pay for it too. I can afford paying even for “minor” (in some people’s views) feature improvements. You obviously can’t (regardless of true reasons or any justifications/excuses you might come up with). Nothing is wrong with that, but I don’t really understand why you felt the need to use so many words to describe such simple thing…

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      4S antenna is not special, but it may feel like that to you because 4 antenna was sh*t.

      Android phones made by experienced cell phone companies like Motorola and Samsung had perfectly good antennas all along.

    • EV42TMAN
    • 8 years ago

    I have an 3GS and my girlfriend bought the 4S. I’ll fully admit the screen, speed, and cameras are better/nicer but with how many rumors are out there for the iPhone 5 i would just wait and see what happens. The only thing that i wish was easier to fix is the battery. because after 2.5 years mine starting to die. But since my warranty is up and i know the 4S isnt that special then i’ll try buying a replacement battery from ifixit. A dying battery isn’t worth $200 or more no matter how much Apple would like me to think it is.

      • Jason_Fox
      • 8 years ago

      I had my battery replaced for $40 at a local shop, FWIW. And it was worth it over doing it myself, which I originally tried (and wrote about here at some point).

      • tay
      • 8 years ago

      I am in the same boat except I bought my wife the 4S. She wanted a new phone. I like it, but I too want to wait and see what happens with an iphone5. My battery is not yet dying but its getting close.

    • oldog
    • 8 years ago

    Jason,

    Does Word on a Mac open slower than iTunes on a PC?

      • Jason_Fox
      • 8 years ago

      Ha! I don’t know. I’ve heard iTunes on a PC tends to blow, but I also assume Office is bloatware on every platform.

        • ludi
        • 8 years ago

        Funny you should say that because after my new Intel i5 system build last fall using an SSD, I can double-click a Word ’07 document and it simply pops open, almost exactly like a phone app.

        A significant part of the traditional “PC experience” is mechanical disk latency, which of course phones have never had.

          • Squeazle
          • 8 years ago

          I’m still tickled that scales so tidily,

        • End User
        • 8 years ago

        It has been ages that either Office or iTunes made any system sweat. If someone is complaining that Word or iTunes is slow to launch then their system is archaic, weak or in need of a housecleaning.

          • Meadows
          • 8 years ago

          There do exist issues, the latest Office Outlook has been a slug for a few versions now, but I don’t personally remember problems with Word for example. As in, ever.

      • End User
      • 8 years ago

      How slow is your storage if you are complaining about app load speeds in 2012? Under Windows 7 both Word and iTunes launch quickly off of my tired old 7200rpm drive. Caching makes any subsequent launch even faster.

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      It’s funny because iTunes sucks.

      😀

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    My first smartphone ever was the iPhone 4S 64GB, but only because the google galaxy nexus was too big for my hands. I hate that I love it, because I hate apple. But it is pretty good.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 8 years ago

      Grow larger hands.

      No, but seriously though, between the two best smartphones on the market, you really can’t make a poor decision.

        • cynan
        • 8 years ago

        My gf splurged on an unlocked Galaxy Nexus for me for Christmas. And I have to say, the thing is overpriced by about 50%, especially compared to what a similarly specced Samsung tablet will cost you. The only thing it really has going for it relative to other high end smart phones is that it arguably has the best screen currently on the market. And of course being the only phone with ICS, but that won’t last long.

        A couple of things that make me wonder what Google was thinking :
        1) No micro SD or any on board memory expansion.
        2) mediocre GPU for flagship device.
        3) Mediocre still camera quality – especially in low light.

        As far as the onboard memory expansion is concerned, I’m hopping the phone will host attaching a mini USB flash drive for transferring media on the go. But even if it does, this is hardly an elegant solution for a $700 phone. What the heck Google?

        And about the GPU. Yes it’s only half as fast in OpenGL as the Iphone 4s, but this doesn’t acually bother me as much as I initially thought as, now that I have a decent smartphone, I don’t really see myself wanting to spend much time playing or caring about 3D accelerated games on my phone. If it was a tablet, it would be a different story.

        Camera. While I don’t expect high quality photos from a smartphone, my experience with still photos has been quite disappointing. The 5MP camera on my old Nokia N95 was way better. In lower light, trying to get a properly exposed photo is an exercise in futility. That said, the video camera, with adequate lighting is quite good for a mobile device. The 1080p vids I’ve tried have come out smooth and surprisingly sharp.

        If it wasn’t for the increased carrier flexibility with the Google Nexus (supports all the GSM, UMTS bands) I may have been tempted to check out the Iphone 4s instead. But then again that 4.6″ 720p display on the Nexus sure is purdy and really makes reading emails and surfing the net a breeze compared to some other phones…

        Things will be interesting when Tegra 3 phones arrive running ICS in a few months. But alas, I couldn’t wait that long.

      • entropy13
      • 8 years ago

      My first smartphone ever…is yet to come.

    • ish718
    • 8 years ago

    Sooo, you wouldn’t keep it because the iphone 5 and ipad 3 are about to be released…

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      DigiTimes said so! It’s got to be true!

    • cygnus1
    • 8 years ago

    if the speed, camera, capacity, improved signal quality and screen didn’t convince you it was a worthy upgrade from the 3gs, you’re just not using the features then.

    i just recently upgrade from the 32GB 3GS to the 64GB 4S. i’ve stopped carrying my point and shoot camera, i no longer worry about what/how much i keep on it, battery life is better, reception is better, the screen is amazing and it’s wicked fast.

    I also paid for the unlocked GSM version so I could use it here in afghanistan without worrying about jailbreaking/unlocking.

    also, you can get it on 3 different carriers in the states, so complaining about at&t is pointless.

      • Jason_Fox
      • 8 years ago

      Um, okay. I’m not saying it wasn’t great. I’m saying it wasn’t worth $400 when the 5 is bound to be out in a few months. And since my wife doesn’t want to upgrade her phone, I would have to stick with AT&T. And even if I didn’t, I’d still be locked in to the 4S for two years — my tech budget ain’t what it used to be.

        • cygnus1
        • 8 years ago

        I understand what you feel is worth $400 is up to you, but what are you expecting to be so amazing on the 5 from a hardware perspective?

          • Jason_Fox
          • 8 years ago

          Quad-core A6? I don’t know much beyond that, to be honest. But I’d rather get off the “S” upgrade schedule. Again, the 4S is awesome. If I had the coin to get a new iPhone with every version, I would. But I don’t, so I’ll gamble on the 5 being worth the wait. If it’s a bucket of meh, I’m not really losing out on much in the interim.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      It’s funny how Apple fanbois attack anybody with a rabid look on their eyes when someone dares say iPhone4S wasn’t that special…

      Wake up! iPhones are expensive, and there are plenty of Android phones that nearly as good and much cheaper. (I unlocked my Android phone for $15 so I could take it to Europe.)

      Of course, if you have money to burn, by all means by an unlocked iPhone.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, the iPhone 4S isn’t that special compared to the iPhone 4, but compared to the 3GS?

        While I’d never own an iPhone based only on snobby Android principle, even I can admit that the iPhone 4 is an incredible piece of hardware. The 4S is just a more modern version of it.

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        never mind great windows phones.

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]if the speed, camera, capacity, improved signal quality and screen didn't convince you it was a worthy upgrade from the 3gs, you're just not...[/quote<] ...holding it right?

    • WalkCMD
    • 8 years ago

    Anyone have the Droid Bionic? Any feedback?

      • LoneWolf15
      • 8 years ago

      I have it.

      Motorola released several updates in the past month that have made it a compelling phone. I got mine on the day of the first significant update, so I never experienced the early-adopter issues others have had. I’ve spent almost a month’s time with it.

      Pros:
      Good performance (dual-core TI OMAP with PowerVR GPU)
      Lots of easily available accessories (alarm clock/audio-out dock, car navigation dock, extended battery, etc.)
      Promised upgrade to ICS (Motorola has promised this for the Bionic and the RAZR)
      Comfortable to hold/use
      Decent display (IMO)
      $100 less than the Droid RAZR (which I found uncomfortable to hold for long calls, and doesn’t have a user-replaceable battery)

      Cons:
      If you are an anti-Pentile screen fanatic, you’ll be annoyed (I don’t see this as a serious issue)
      If you hate Motorola’s Motoblur skin with a passion, you’ll be annoyed (I’m not, and I use Launcher Pro anyway)
      Verizon’s LTE network is sometimes quirky (though when it works, it’s blazing fast)
      Sucks battery when on 4G (like every other current 4G-LTE phone, so disable LTE when not in use or get the extended battery)
      If you like to hack your phone by rooting/ROM-ing, Motorola’s locked bootloaders make this more of a pain (I’m not into this, so no big deal)

      I really like mine. Note: If you’re in a fringe LTE-coverage area, just turn LTE off; I’d recommend that to anyone who owns a VZW LTE phone. The handoff between 3G-4G is a bit problematic for some in those areas, and can result in a complete data drop, regardless of what 4G phone you have (though it was quite problematic with the Bionic prior to the newer software updates).

        • --k
        • 8 years ago

        I have the Sprint version of the Bionic (Photon) and I’m satisfied. The pentile screen looks good for text, but video and pix can look washed out depending on the source. Also the locked bootloader is PITA. I was able to install ICS, but not w/o it disabling my 4G WiMax access in the process. The 2 things I love about this phone are the battery and reception. All in all, good Int’l CDMA/GSM phone, but not so good if you want a PMP type device. I’d recommend a Samsung SGS2 for that. I personally use an iPod touch.

          • LoneWolf15
          • 8 years ago

          While the Photon is a good phone, there are significant differences. The Photon uses an nVidia Tegra 2 CPU, so it doesn’t have NEON GPU support for video acceleration.

          [url<]http://www.arm.com/products/processors/technologies/neon.php[/url<] The Bionic would have been a Tegra-2 based phone, but Motorola went back to the drawing board and completely redid the phone, starting with a TI OMAP 4430 CPU, whose PowerVR GPU does support NEON. OTOH, the Photon 4G should be a world-phone; the BIONIC is CDMA/LTE only.

            • --k
            • 8 years ago

            You’re right. I was thinking the Atrix. Bionic is the newer version (Atrix 2).

    • Spyder22446688
    • 8 years ago

    I went from the 3GS to the 4S. Just yesterday I went back and tried using the 3GS again… it was terrible. Really terrible. The screen, especially. If the upgrade didn’t please you, then not sure what you were expecting… 40 virgins? Then again, saving money is always good. If I could be happy with a $50 set from Virgin Mobile, I’d totally do it.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      You woudln’t even be happy with the $300 phone from VM because VM’s network (assuming you’re in the US) is stuck on Sprint with zero roaming. The only way you’d be happy with anything from Virgin Mobile is if you bought it as an iPod replacement.

        • highlandr
        • 8 years ago

        Unless you live near me, where Sprint’s network is as good as or better than ATT, without the irritating data caps…

        (“Better” in this case going from non-existent on ATT to fabulous on Sprint…)

          • Corrado
          • 8 years ago

          Virgin Mobile is a second class citizen on Sprint’s network. You get throttled when an actual Sprint customer wants to use that bandwidth. I’m with Spyder in that I WISH I could be happy with a $50 phone from Virgin Mobile…. but I just wouldn’t be.

      • Jason_Fox
      • 8 years ago

      The upgrade pleased me. (I had already prepared an eBay listing for my 3GS before I changed my mind.) But if I can wait six or seven months for a 5, well, I’m going to do so.

        • Spyder22446688
        • 8 years ago

        Screw the 5, or the 6 for that matter! Might as well hold out for Steve Jobs to be reincarnated and design something entirely new! =) I mean, if you’ve had the 3GS for 30 months already, why not!? =)

        • adisor19
        • 8 years ago

        I actually agree with you. If you can wait another 5 – 6 months, do it.

        An Apple product must be bought close the the day it was released in order to get the most bang for your buck. the 4S is already passed that point.

        Adi

        • Decelerate
        • 8 years ago

        But then why not wait another 12 for a 5S? 😛

        Note: I don’t have a cell phone. I’m *THAT* cheap.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      His arguments were pretty solid: it was good, but not good enough for 1) spending AT&T upgrade credit on, 2) staying with AT&T for two more years and 3) spending $413 on.

      I remember when my old phone died early last year, I went around trying to figure out what to upgrade to. Tested Samsungs, LGs, HTCs, Motorola and iPhone4. The best ones by far were Motorola Atrix and iPhone4. IPhone felt marginally better, but Tegra2 in the Atrix closed the gap pretty well, and pricewise it was $200 vs. $25 (yes – the Atrix was $25 after rebate).

      Price matters, and I’ve been very happy with the Atrix.

        • Spyder22446688
        • 8 years ago

        Staying with AT&T for another two years is most definitely a compelling argument.

          • cygnus1
          • 8 years ago

          Except it’s not an argument against the 4S. The 4S can be bought on the top 3 networks in the US.

          It’s an argument between him and his wife because she doesn’t want to switch.

          His arguments really point to the real reason it wasn’t a compelling upgrade, he just doesn’t use or care about the features that were improved. If he did, you wouldn’t be able to pry it away from him.

          Nothing makes the 3GS any less than what it’s always been and if that’s all he needs or uses, I can understand the upgrade not being compelling.

          • NeelyCam
          • 8 years ago

          The funny thing is, I’ve asked around, and T-Mobile and Verizon both have worse networks than AT&T where I am. The T-Mobile signal completely disappears inside my house. Meanwhile, AT&T has been good to me for years (and I have one of those rare “200 texts for $5” plans).

          I have no reason to switch to one of the others.

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