Now that the iPhone 4S is available in stores and has shipped, it’s time to see what reviewers think of the handset. It may come as little surprise, but all of the major reviewers seemed to like it.
We’ve gathered some of the snippets of the reviews, and compiled them so that you can get the opinions of some of the top reviewers out there. Because the design of the iPhone 4S is identical to the iPhone 4, we focused on the key features, such as the updated camera, Siri and improved speeds.
Hit the jump to read on.
Pogue (NYT): Much better, faster–among the best on a phone. Its photos are crisp and clear, with beautiful color. The low-light photos and 1080p high-definition video are especially impressive for a phone.
Mossberg (AllThingsD): Other phones boast 8-megapixel cameras, but the 4S takes the best pictures and high-definition videos I have seen on a phone. The colors were gorgeous, everything was sharp and the camera can detect up to 10 faces. Plus, it’s fast…
Topolsky (This is My Next): The rear camera has been massively improved — and that’s saying a lot considering the original iPhone 4 sensor and lens were a pretty lethal combo.
TechCrunch: If the point-and-shoot market wasn’t in trouble before, it will be now.
SlashGear: Does it all work? You bet it does. There are two noticeable improvements – quality and speed – and the best thing is that they’re clearly evident from the start. Sharpness and detail are significantly boosted in the iPhone 4S when compared to what the iPhone 4 can achieve; there’s less noise and less color bleed evident
Daring Fireball: The most profound difference between the 4S and 4 cameras has nothing to do with image quality. It’s that you don’t have to wait nearly as long. That closed iris comes up for a moment and then it’s gone, and you’re ready to shoot. And after you shoot, the camera is ready to snap additional photos almost instantly. The difference is huge.
iSmashPhone Verdict: Looks like everyone is in agreement. The rear-facing camera is great. This is one of the major new features of the iPhone 4S and not one of the reviewers seemed disappointed in its abilities.
Pogue (NYT): More speed is always better…but it’s not like people were complaining about ( the iPhone 4).
Mossberg (AllThingsD): The iPhone 4S now comes with the same, dual-core processor found in the iPad 2. I didn’t notice a dramatic speed gain, but the phone operated rapidly and surely, with smooth scrolling and swiping.
Topolsky (This is My Next): The 4S definitely had slightly less of the occasional stutter, but it wasn’t night and day.
TechCrunch: First of all, the iPhone 4S blows away the iPhone 4 when it comes to speed. For the past week, I’ve been testing all of my most-used apps and the differences range from solid to awesome. At first glance, the speed difference may seem subtle. But over time, it adds up and becomes apparent. I would switch back to my iPhone 4 and get frustrated by the lag.
SlashGear: The company’s key strength is in the tight integration of iOS and its custom processor: it may not be as fast on paper as some of the dual-core chips in current Android phones, but that isn’t the bottom line when you’re looking at overall performance. The close development of software and hardware pays dividends in app speed and battery life.
Daring Fireball: Apps launch quicker, scrolling is smoother, web pages render faster. If you used both an original iPad and and iPad 2, it’s a lot like that.
iSmashPhone Verdict: Most reviewers said that the difference isn’t huge, but it’s enough to make it a bit more pleasurable to use. MG of TechCrunch does note, however, that when he went back to his iPhone 4, he was frustrated by the noticeable difference in speed.
Pogue (NYT): No direct mention
Mossberg (AllThingsD): Apple claims to have improved voice-call reception in the iPhone 4S, allowing the phone to switch between two antennas to pick up the best signal. But my AT&T model dropped too many calls, just as earlier AT&T iPhones do. My colleague’s Verizon iPhone 4S dropped none.
Topolsky (This is My Next): In my testing, I did seem to be getting more bars more consistently, though it’s tough to say if it made any big difference in terms of call quality. As far as dropped calls were concerned, I certainly didn’t notice any pronounced issues while testing the phone in New York. I did have a few dropped calls, but I also have dropped calls on my Nexus S — so I’m a little more apt to blame the network than the device.
TechCrunch: No direct mention.
SlashGear: No direct Mention.
Daring Fireball: My tests were certainly far from extensive, but from what I’ve seen, Sprint’s service is very much comparable to Verizon’s. Compared to AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are better for voice (both in terms of audio quality and call-dropping), but worse for data (slower, often much slower).
iSmashPhone Verdict: Overall, the call quality hasn’t improved. It doesn’t seem to have gotten worse, either. Even then, it seems to be more of an issue with AT&T than it does the phone as Mossberg’s colleague experienced no drops on Verizon and Topolsky mentioned that his Nexus S drops calls, too, adding that he’s going to place the blame on the network, rather than the handset.
Pogue (NYT): And while the battery still gets you through one full day, standby time is shorter than before (200 hours versus 300). But over all, Apple has done an excellent job.
Mossberg (AllThingsD): While I didn’t run a formal battery test, the phone lasted all day, every day, even when I was doing heavy testing and, thus, using it more than I typically would.
Topolsky (This is My Next): Even after a heavy day of use (about 16 hours of making calls, browsing, downloading apps, syncing, listening to music, game playing, and more), I still had juice on the phone when I plugged it in before bed. The 4S is more than capable of going through a full business day without needing a charge, and if you’re a lighter user, you’ll rarely have to worry about it.
TechCrunch: As for battery life, the 4S seems solid. That’s impressive given the faster processor. I would get about 7 hours in heavy usage over mainly 3G on any given day. If I was only on WiFi, more. Apple’s own specs do note that standby battery time has decreased a bit, but it’s not something I noticed enough to make note of.
SlashGear: That’s an admirable worst-case scenario for a power-user: we expect the iPhone 4S to deliver 7-9+ hours of active use under normal conditions, certainly sufficient for a full work day.
Daring Fireball: No direct mention
iSmashPhone Verdict: The reviewers agree. It’s a nice battery life. It will get you through the day, but you will likely be charging each night. That’s about average these days. The kicker, here, for most, is the fact that the iPhone 4S retains the nice battery life even with the boost in processor speed.
Image from Apple’s website touting iPhone 4S’ new features.
Pogue (NYT): Speech recognition. Crazy good, transformative, category-redefining speech recognition … No voice training or special syntax is required; you don’t even have to hold the phone up to your head. You just hold down the phone’s Home button until you hear a double beep, and then speak casually.
Mossberg (AllThingsD): The standout feature, not available in other iPhones, or in any other phone I’ve seen, is Siri. It answers questions and provides information using natural language and an intelligent understanding, not just of words, but of context and colloquial phrasing. It isn’t perfect, and is labeled a beta, but it has great potential and worked pretty well for me, despite some glitches.
Topolsky (This is My Next): The crazy thing about Siri is that it works — at least most of the time — better than you’d expect it to. It understands and responds to you in a way that’s so natural it can sometimes be unsettling. The software even has a good sense of humor…There’s still clearly a lot of work to be done on the voice recognition side of things, and a lot of pieces you might expect to work aren’t wired up just yet.
TechCrunch: Yes, others have done voice controls before — even Apple has had them baked into iOS for a few years. But most, including Apple’s previous attempt, have been awful. Others, like Google’s voice services built into Android, are decent. Siri is great.
SlashGear: Voice control isn’t new, in fact the iPhone 4 – among smartphones running other platforms – already reacts to rudimentary spoken commands. There’s a difference, though, between voice control and what Apple offers with Siri, and it comes down to context.
Daring Fireball: I found it extremely fun to explore Siri — primarily because so many of the things I tried actually worked. It’s a completely different interface for interacting with your iPhone. You’re not driving or commanding the existing iPhone interface with commands. There is no syntax to memorize. You’re just, well, talking to your iPhone.
iSmashPhone Verdict: This is the iPhone 4S’ killer app. While most mention that many phones make use of speech recognition, they all say that the iPhone 4S does it best. One of the standout features is its ability to understand context and learn about people around you. For instance, SlashGear said that if you say something like “Call my wife” it will do one of two things: If you have established who your wife is in your contacts, it will call her. If not, it will inform you that it doesn’t know who your wife is. If you say “Lisa”, it will learn that from now on, when you say “Call my wife,” it will call Lisa.
Pogue (NYT): The question isn’t what’s in a name — it’s what’s in a phone. And the answer is: “A lot of amazing technology. And some of it feels like magic.”
Mossberg (AllThingsD): Some may be content to skip the new hardware and just enjoy the software and cloud features with older models. But those buying the phone will likely be happy with it.
Topolsky (This is My Next): Is this the best phone ever made? That’s debatable. But I can tell you this: the iPhone 4S is pretty damn cool.
TechCrunch: Apple focused on the other thing they do best: refining already great products to make them better. The iPhone 4 was a great product. The best smartphone ever made. Now it cedes that title to the iPhone 4S.
SlashGear: Challenging the iPhone isn’t just about creating one single, better smartphone, but a portfolio of consistent products and services. The iPhone 4S may look the same as before, but it arguably represents just as much of a shift in the industry as the original iPhone ever did.
Daring Fireball: The one and only disappointment I have with the iPhone 4S is that the shutdown spinner animation is still low-res. That’s pretty low on the list of nits to pick.
iSmashPhone Verdict: While all the reviews are positive, they all say more or less the same thing. The iPhone 4S is great. It’s one of the best phones out there, but those with an iPhone 4 may not mind holding on for a while. Others, however, will see it as a worthy upgrade.
Again. The iPhone 4S seems to be doing well for itself. Many were talking down on it when it was announced, but those people just wanted to see a slimmed case with a tapered design and a ‘5’ popped in at the end of it. Didn’t happen this time, and those people forget that the iPhone 4 is already a damned good phone. For now at least, as the old saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
You can read the full reviews, and we suggest that you do as they are very good and full of additional details, here: