It has verged on torture writing about the iPhone 4S for this long without mentioning Siri. The new voice-activated assistant is, as previously stumbled over, part of the iOS 5 update, and not really a handset feature. But as it's only available on the iPhone 4S, it demands a mention. In fact, it's the primary reason to upgrade, and it presents a damn good argument.
Quite literally, in fact. You might talk to inanimate objects all the time, but iPhone 4S owners now have one that can -- and will -- answer them. Replacing the old voice controls, Siri activates when you hold down the Home button for a couple of seconds, or when you hold the device up to your ear when not on a call.
And then you tell it what you want. No specific commands or keywords. Just talk to it. During our test (a review model, with "James" entered as a contact), we said "Schedule a meeting with James on Saturday the fifteenth." Siri did so, and then asked us what time to make the meeting, or whether it should be an all day appointment. Impressed, we tested again, only this time trying to trip poor Siri up.
"Will you schedule a meeting for me with James on the fourteenth. No, make that Saturday." Amazingly, Siri pointed out that we already had a meeting with James slated for Saturday, and asked if we still wanted to add this one. After that, we were simply too speechless to try to trick Siri again.
Up until this point the decision about an upgrade had been quite easy, but the voice recognition confused matters distressingly well. Siri, alone, is worth an upgrade or a switch from any other smartphone to the iPhone 4S.