Review: Apple iPhone 4S

iPHONE 4S: Apple's 'language recognition' assistant Siri isn't officially supported here, but it picked my 'Nu Ziland' accent when set to Australian English.
iPHONE 4S: Apple's 'language recognition' assistant Siri isn't officially supported here, but it picked my 'Nu Ziland' accent when set to Australian English.


Apple's iPhone is something of a phenomenon.

Not only is it a smartphone that Apple fans covet with a passion, but it's a device that even people who know little about gadgets and technology want to own.

I have used iPhones in the past, but have never been a committed Apple fanatic, despite owning an iPod Touch for years.

I also don't gush about everything that Apple does, nor do I rave about the latest features to appear in iTunes.

However, after spending time with the iPhone 4S that was released a few weeks ago, I am quite impressed and would quite happily replace my current smartphone with an iPhone.

The 4S feels solid in the hand. Its heart is the new dual-core A5 chip: the brains of the iPhone 4S, and Apple suggests the 4S offers double the performance of the iPhone 4.

The 3.5-inch screen (with a resolution of 960 by 640 pixels) is bight and responsive.

The biggest addition to the 4S, however, is Siri, Apple's "language recognition" assistant.

While it isn't officially supported in New Zealand, I was impressed, after being initially sceptical, with how well the Siri language recognition responded most of the time using my "Nu Ziland" accent, when the Siri is actually set to Australian English.

The Siri can send text messages, through iMessage, and you can dictate notes to it and phrase questions in multiple ways. Asking Siri, "What is the temperature now?", she replied (I had selected an Australian woman's accent), "It's 18 degrees in Canterbury, New Zealand".

Siri refused, however, to offer an opinion on whether she liked me: "I do not have an opinion on that," she replied calmly.

What you can't use Siri for is to search for businesses in your area. A question asking where the nearest Indian restaurant was garnered the response that this utility was available only within the US. Apple hasn't indicated when other territories will get this service.

The 4S has dual antennas, meaning call quality should remain constant wherever you are and I have to say call quality was great: clear and crisp (I was using the 2degrees mobile network, so experiences may differ, depending on carrier).

I did notice, however, that it got quite hot after a bit of use.

The eight-megapixel camera is one of the best smartphone cameras I've used – certainly better than the usual point-and-click camera we use for family photos. It also has facial recognition and users can do basic photo editing on the fly using the pre-installed editing software, and then upload photos to a social network site. Captured video (1080p resolution) is clear and crisp.

The 4S also offers iCloud, which means that data stored on the phone (photos, contacts, appointments, music) can be synced to devices without the need to plug in cables and cords.

While the Phone 4S might not have been the iPhone 5 that Apple fans were hoping for, if you own an older model iPhone and have been sitting on the fence about upgrading, the 4S might just be the catalyst to make the move.

As for me, after my time with the Phone 4S, I am prepared to join the converted.

Apple iPhone 4S

About $1000 for the handset only, but prices vary by memory size and plan.

The Press