iPhone 4s: Should You Upgrade or Not?

Apple released the iOS5 upgrade for iPhone and iPad last week. It is a major upgrade and is free. I downloaded it immediately. It has some great new features, not the least of which is the the ability to sync your mobile devices without connecting to your desktop first (via iCloud).

However, I was reluctant to upgrade the phone itself. I already had an iPhone 4. Why did I need a 4s? I just wasn’t sure it was worth the investment, especially since I got most of the new bells and whistles with the iOS5 upgrade.

However, one of my daughters upgraded to the iPhone 4s on Friday. She convinced me to try it, especially after I realized that I could like get $300+ for my iPhone 4 on Ebay.com or one of the used gadget sites.

So, after speaking in Indianapolis on Saturday morning, I walked across the street to the AT&T store and bought the 64GB model in black. I didn’t have to wait in line, and they activated it for me on the spot. They also transferred my contacts to it.

After using it for the last 24 hours, I am impressed. Here are the three biggest benefits to me.

  1. A Digital Assistant. Siri, is the voice recognition software Apple has built into the 4s. (It is not available on the 4.) You can speak to it like you would a real person. You can ask it for your next appointment, the weather forecast in any city, or directions to your destination. You can even ask it for restaurant recommendations near you. I found it surprisingly accurate.

    This technology is also built into email and texting. This enables you to dictate a text message or an email message and Siri will transcribe it—supposedly. For some reason, I found this much less accurate and, frankly, not worth the effort. I am going to continue trying and see if Siri gets “smarter” with practice.

  2. A More Powerful Camera. The 4s boasts an 8 megapixel sensor. That is 60 percent more pixels than the iPhone 4 and more than enough for 90 percent of the shots I need to take. (For those rare, high-end shots, I have a Canon 60D with 18 megapixels.)

    In addition to the sensor, the 4s sports a new fifth lens, an enlarged aperture (f/2.4), face detection, and reduced motion blur (i.e., image stabilization). It also now allows for basic photo editing—crop and rotate photos, auto-enhance photos, and remove red-eye. It can also shoot gorgeous 1080p HD video.

  3. A Faster Processor. The 4s uses the dual-core A5 chip—the same one used in the iPad. It is twice as fast as the iPhone 4. Apple claims that it delivers up to two times more power and up to seven times faster graphics. In my limited use it seems much quicker and more responsive. It is delightful to use.

    Apple claims that it does all of this without negatively impacting battery life. So far, that has not been my experience. It could be that I am just using it more than I was using my previous phone. However, it may also because I too many notifications were turned on by default. I have since turned a bunch of those off and am hoping that helps.

One hitch I had was that all my contacts were duplicated. I think, however, this was a function of iCloud on iOS5 rather than an iPhone 4s problem.

I was able to eliminate this by downloading a program called Contacts Cleaner from the AppStore ($4.99) and re-syncing. There may be an easier, cheaper solution, but this is something Apple should fix. If you Google the problem, you’ll find many users complaining about it.

All in all, I am quite pleased. I am glad I upgraded to the 4s.

Should you upgrade? If you haven’t already, I would start by installing the iOS5 software. That will give you a lot of new functionally and may satisfy your need for a new Apple fix. Then you have to ask whether or not the benefits I have described are worth the upgrade to you.

Questions: Do you plan to upgrade your phone? Why or Why not? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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