iPhone 4S – To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade.

Himanshu Singh

I will be the first to admit that I am an avid Apple fan. I am often one of the first people to run out and buy new Apple products when they are released. Just like countless people around the world I was glued to my computer watching Apple’s press event for the iPhone launch. After the event I was left with a mix of emotions.

I was excited but at the same time fairly disappointed. I had my fingers crossed for one of Apple’s classic “oh, just one more thing” moments at the end of the event to introduce the much speculated iPhone 5. Sadly that did not happen and now I am left with the tough decision of whether I should upgrade from my current iPhone 4 to the 4S.

As you may have heard, this is Apple’s typical mid-cycle product refresh. The phone’s design stays unchanged and rather receives some internal hardware upgrades. They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but maybe I’m just shallow. Yes, the new 4S will have the dual core A5 processor (from the current iPad2) that’s twice as fast as the 4, but for most general users’ needs the 4 handles most tasks fairly well. I don’t really see myself playing very graphic intensive game like the Infinity Blade II they demoed during the event. Considering some of the top games on iTunes are simple things like Angry Birds and Harbor Master, I don’t think most users will benefit much from the 7X faster graphics either. The camera sees a bump in quality and mega-pixels and will now shoot videos at 1080p.  It’s obviously a nice bonus having better quality pictures, but I ask you this: Does a couple of megapixels really make a big difference to the novice photographer looking to capture spontaneous moments with friends? Will the more serious photographer ever chose the camera on his phone over a traditional camera for an important event? I guess we’ll have to wait see peoples reactions when the phone hits store on October 14 in Canada.

The one feature that really impressed me was Siri, the phone’s self described “…humble personal assistant.” You can talk to it like a regular person and say things like “Do I have any meetings tomorrow afternoon?” or “How is the weather in Toronto this weekend?” Siri will answer your questions and pull up the requested information. You can tell it to text a specific person and it will do as commanded. As impressive as this feature sounds Siri may become the Facetime of the 4S, a feature that is powerful, well designed, and generally very cool but rarely actually used. Until it becomes socially acceptable and common to talk to your phone I don’t really see people using it other than maybe in the car or in the privacy of their home.

Majority of improvements that are coming to the iPhone are actually firmware upgrades part of iOS 5 (side note: from a marketing perspective it would have been a lot better to launch the iPhone 5 at the same time as iOS 5). Features such as iMessenger (Apple’s version of BBM), iCloud (and here is iCloud unlock, just in case), FriendFinder will all be freely available to most by upgrading their iPhone firmware on October 12th.  So why “upgrade” to the iPhone 4S? I suppose if your contract is up for renewal, or you’ve been using the almost archaic 3G or 3GS for many years you will see a very substantial difference in quality and performance. But then again seeing as there aren’t drastic upgrades from the 4 to the 4S, perhaps you’re better off saving your money and buying the drastically reduced iPhone4. Oh the dilemma!