The iPhone 4S – What’s New?
On October 4, 2011 Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S, the next model of the iPhone. Unlike the iPhone 4, the 4S is not a major overhaul of the iPhone. The form factor is the same as the iPhone 4 and it isn’t packed with new features. In short the new features are the improved camera, the faster processor, an improved antenna system, and SIRI (the voice operated assistant). In fact some would argue the update to the iPhone OS (which you don’t need an iPhone 4S for) is bigger than the iPhone 4S itself. I would tend to agree. The new iOS5 is packed with features (200 according to Apple) and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Here's a full comparison of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4.
The Missing Features
With that being said, what’s missing from the iPhone 4S? Well, let's start with the look of the iPhone. It is the same design as the iPhone 4. Many were hoping for the tear drop design that was floating around the Internet. In fact, many case manufacturers wasted a lot of money designing and producing cases based on this rumored form factor. Others were hoping for a form factor more like the iPad. Personally, I don’t like the current form factor. I think it is too bulky and the rounded edges of the iPod Touch and the older iPhones fit the hand better.
Next up, an NFC payment system. NFC is a payment system where you would have the ability to swipe your phone over a sensor at a merchant to pay for your items instead of using credit cards or cash. The problem with this feature? Not enough merchants are adopting NFC yet. Why put it in the phone if it isn’t needed? The iPhone 4S does have Bluetooth 4.0, which I have read can handle a similar transaction system to NFC. This makes more sense to have in the phone since Bluetooth has a much wider use.
Another feature which many people were hoping for was 4G or LTE for faster Internet speeds. Apple did introduce a new data system with the antenna which will boost the Internet speed for AT&T users (although it won't deliver true 4G speeds), but for Verizon and Sprint users it is standard 3G. While LTE Internet speeds on the phone would be nice the technology and network is not there yet. Battery life on phones with LTE is said to be very poor. Also, the network for LTE, or 4G, is still very spotty. Most people would have to revert to a 3G connection anyway. I agree with Apple on this one too. Let the networks get stronger and more widespread. In the meantime, work on battery life technology worthy of an iPhone.
Those are the three main features that most people will be complaining about as being missing from the iPhone 4S. You might hear others looking for improved GPS, better battery life (everyone always wants better battery life), or a cheaper price. People were also hoping for a second low-end/cheaper device that was not just a price reduced iPhone 4.
There is one more feature that I think would be a fantastic addition, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. This feature is an optical zoom on the lens. Right now the iPhone 4S, and iPhone 4 use digital zoom for zooming in on subjects when taking pictures. Digital zoom is awful on any camera, and if you do a lot of zooming you really want optical zoom which utilizes a lens for zoom not the software. The problem with putting optical zoom in a phone is that the lens would have to be bulky and have moving parts. This would add weight, size, and more things to break to an iPhone. The iPhone 4S has an amazing camera (as does the iPhone 4), and Apple has said they want the camera to become as good as a point and shoot camera. It is getting closer and closer, but optical zoom would really put it over the edge.
So will any of these features make it into the next iPhone? I would venture a guess that the iPhone 5 or whatever they call it will be a total redesign. Hopefully the redesign will include rounded edges and a thinner form factor. I also think LTE is a given in the next iPhone. If NFC starts taking off that will be there, but I don’t think this is a sure thing. What else might we see? Apple is always trying improve battery life and that is a definite possibility. Plus, you never know what secret feature Apple is working on that will knock people’s socks off. We’ll just have to wait and see.
- Apple, http://www.apple.com/iphone/
- Article based on author's experience.