05
Oct
apple-iphone-4-91

I’d like to start by stating I am not a rabid Android “fanboy.” In fact, I heavily considered the iPhone 3GS back in the day (er, last year), before deciding to pick up my Nexus One instead. Admittedly, I was a bit bedazzled by the concept of a “Google phone” and, as a confessed mega-geek, I found the bleeding-edge experience Android offered to be more exciting for some reason.

So I chose an Android device. When the iPhone 4 was released, I'll be the first to admit that I was jealous. Like it or not, Apple’s Retina display and buttery-smooth iOS UI remain rivaled only by Samsung’s Galaxy S II, and I still staunchly believe Apple builds superior products to anyone in the smartphone industry in terms of build quality and hardware design. iOS 4 still lagged behind Android in several key respects, but to say the iPhone 4 wasn’t a juggernaut in the marketplace (antenna-gate aside) would be willful ignorance.

When it started becoming consensus that Apple would be jumping straight to the iPhone 5, my imagination ran wild with the possible changes the company could be making to the iconic device. So, when the rumors then began piling up that Apple would not be releasing an iPhone 5 today, but an iPhone 4S, my hopes for it immediately and arbitrarily decreased. When it was officially announced, my confidence in Apple’s ability to continue to innovate and break new ground not only with the iPhone itself, but the iOS platform, waned substantially. Apple broke its release schedule and waited until Fall for this very incremental upgrade? I can scarcely understand what took Apple so long.

If this phone had been released in June, my reception may have been a bit warmer. But given the pace at which smartphones are evolving,  Apple will already be feeling the pressure from new Android handsets not a few months from now, but a few weeks. This isn’t good. It isn’t good for Apple, and it isn’t good for their carrier partners. We knew there was a strong possibility that Apple would release an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 4, but we expected a much larger increment, if you will.

The release of the iPhone 4S will pit it squarely against the various carrier-branded versions of Samsung’s Galaxy S II, Google’s upcoming Nexus Prime handset on Verizon, and a litany of devices in the pipes from the likes of Motorola and HTC. Phones with high definition 720p displays. Phones with even more powerful dual core processors. Phones with Google’s much-awaited Ice Cream Sandwich release of the Android OS - the single biggest visual revamp of the Android OS for phones to date. Some of these phones will be, in terms of a number of on-paper specifications, bigger and better than the iPhone 4S.

While Apple’s device remains the king of the hill in terms of battery life, camera, display pixel density, and internal storage offerings for now, there’s no doubt that this is the least competitive iPhone to be released to date. Here’s why.

The Retina Display Is Old News

Apple’s Retina display is good. The pixel density is just amazing, it’s bright, and it reads very nicely. The problem? Android phones are getting 720p displays very soon (eg, Nexus Prime, DROID HD), allowing true HD video playback, and technologies like SAMOLED Plus and even SuperLCD have evolved by leaps and bounds in terms of battery drain, contrast, and viewing angles. qHD displays on Android phones have so far proven to, well, suck - but Apple’s Retina display will no longer be the crowning technical achievement it was more than a year ago.

Dual-Core Will Excite Developers, No One Else

Apple’s A5 chipset, found originally in the iPad 2, is a powerful dual core processor on par with Samsung’s Exynos processor, found in the Galaxy S II. Really, it’s a great processor - great power management, it runs 3D games with ease, and Apple’s closed hardware ecosystem allows them to do a lot more dual core optimization at the OS level than Android. The problem? High-end Android devices, and soon Windows phones, pretty much all have dual-core processors.

Most consumers won’t understand or be interested in the difference, and won’t dig much further to find out. The difference in the performance of iOS with the upgraded internals will go mostly unnoticed for now, because iOS already runs quite smoothly on Apple’s A4 processor - unless iOS 5 makes the iPhone 4 originale chug like a steam engine up a steep hill, which I highly doubt will be the case. Promises of better gaming visuals and “faster computing” don’t ring nearly as loud in the heads of consumers when the experience on their current device is already a speedy one. If you’ve used an iPhone 4 (gasp!), you’ll know it’s not lacking in regard to performance.

The average smartphone user is unlikely to care if it’s an Intel 386 or an IBM supercomputer jammed inside their phone, so long as it’s “fast.” Dual-core, as a buzzword, has been all but beaten to death by the likes of Samsung, HTC, and Motorola - Apple’s a little late to the game.

Lack Of 4G Will Hurt Sales At Verizon And Sprint

Verizon’s LTE is fast. People like fast. People were willing to put up with the Thunderbolt, and now the BIONIC’s, lamentable battery life in order to get an injection of high-speed mobile broadband goodness. Verizon’s 4G LTE is, on average, 10 times faster than its CDMA 3G - and LTE coverage already reaches well over half of Verizon’s massive subscriber base.

People are tethering laptops to it, streaming high bit-rate media, and uploading videos. Doing most of these things over Verizon’s 3G CDMA is painfully slow. For basic web browsing, it’s not bad. Anything beyond that, and I start getting flashbacks to the early days of 256k DSL. People were a little hesitant about a 3G-only iPhone 4 on Verizon earlier this year. They should be downright disappointed in a 3G-only 4S this month. We know Apple has always been slow to pick up new network techs, but the carriers are fighting tooth and nail to prove they’re faster than the competition, and a high-end device without a network’s flagship feature will have an uphill battle on its hands.

Worse yet for the Verizon and Sprint versions, AT&T’s version will have access to the carrier’s 4(faux)G HSPA+ network. The maximum download speed on that network is 14.4Mbps - so I wouldn’t expect to ever see more than half of that, but it’s going to allow AT&T to slap the 4G label on the iPhone 4S nonetheless. And it will be faster than Verizon’s by a substantial margin. Heck, it’ll make Sprint’s look like the original 2G EDGE iPhone.

On that note, let’s talk about Sprint. They’ve supposedly invested over $20 billion in 30 million iPhones over the next four or five years, meaning they’re banking heavily on a strong initial offering with the 4S. My colleague Aaron and I agree: this was a monumentally stupid decision. Sprint’s iPhone 4S will ship sans WiMAX, with access only to the carrier’s 3G CDMA network. A network that is slower, and has much less coverage, than Verizon’s. So, imagine the sluggishness of CDMA on the Verizon iPhone 4S, and then lower your bar of expectations several notches. That’s the Sprint iPhone 4S. There's also the fact that the iPhone 4S’s incremental upgrade status will probably make it a non-sale for anyone with a high-end Android phone that was purchased in the last 6 months.

Who is Sprint planning on selling all these iPhone 4S’s (and vanilla iPhone 4's) to? Their prepaid customers over at Virgin and Boost Mobile, most likely. Sprint wants to be the iPhone on a budget and apparently believes that the allure of the iPhone name will bring these people into 2-year contracts in droves. It also apparently believes that the EVO 3D and Epic 4G Touch, two very good phones with Sprint’s WiMAX 4G which can be had for significantly less money up front, have not sufficiently tapped this market.

Sorry, this is just flat out crazy talk. The iPhone 4S, with its craptastic Sprint 3G CDMA and less than awe-inspiring hardware, is just not going to be the subscriber Holy Graal Sprint, for whatever reason, seems to think it will be.

Siri Is Great And All, But Let’s Face It, It’s Mostly A Gimmick

Talking to your phone, if you’ve ever used an Android device, isn’t something new. For iPhone users, this a significant new feature - no doubt about it. What has Apple done with Siri as compared to Google’s Voice Actions? They’ve added a bunch of pre-programmed phrases that shortcut you to the end result you want, and a lot more “talkback” functionality. By integrating with more apps and using tools like Wolfram Alpha, Siri makes using voice actions more of a one-step affair in terms of getting from speech to desired information.

As we know, Google Voice Actions (which are still surprisingly accurate) allow you to call contacts, text them, send e-mails, write notes to yourself, conduct a Google search, navigate, find places, etc. There’s probably things I’m missing. Google has made it clear they want to expand this functionality and for it to be even more intuitive, intelligent, and accurate.

98% of the time I do use Voice Search, I’m using it to do a Google search, or in the car to find a place or navigate to an address. I have never used it to send a text or write an e-mail. I’ve used the note-to-self function a few times, it’s handy occasionally. I’ve obviously used the “Call [blah]” function, too. Siri right now has way more pre-programmed functions than Google Voice Actions, but I imagine that might be changing with the Ice Cream Sandwich unveiling next week.

Aside from searching, navigation, calling, or finding a gas station (all of which generally take place in the car), I rarely use Voice Search. It has its place in my phone, and I love it, but I have zero interest in my phone reciting my text messages or e-mails to me. I can read. I could care less if it responds to “Find Italian restaurant” or “Siri, is there an Italian restaurant nearby?” The latter is only more intuitive to, not to be brash, old people. I’d prefer to say 3 words to 7. I don’t care if it feels more “futuristic” to say it in the form of a sentence. It’s a gimmick. Siri adds to the iPhone 4S’s list of big new features, but it’s evolutionary - not revolutionary.

As Matt Buchannan over on Gizmodo basically said: Like FaceTime, Siri is a great piece of software that Phone users will talk up and show off to friends a few times, and then proceed to never use again.

iOS 5 Is A Big Step Forward For The iPhone, But Compared To Android? Not So Much

Android fanboys have absolutely flogged Apple for “copying” features from Android in iOS5. The notification bar. The Latitude check-in clone. More social and sharing integration. Wireless sync. My response? Who cares. They’re all good ideas, and if Apple isn’t infringing on any IP copying those concepts, they’re fair game. The thing is, even if they are good ideas, they’re things which have already been done. It makes Apple look like they’re now behind the curve on software, and users will eventually start to notice.

While their AirPlay mirroring and the much-improved Camera app look like innovative and generally great software, basic OS interactions aside from notifications haven’t changed all that much. Obviously, Apple wants Siri to be that “huge change” in the way users interact with their smartphones, but I don’t see it ending up being the revolutionary bridge between user and device that Apple is making it out to be. When we get to a Star Trek level of voice control, give me a call, Mr. Cook.

Conclusion

I think that we can objectively say for the first time about a new iPhone that Apple has come up short compared to the competition. It’s also the first time Apple has released a new iPhone (no, we’re not counting Verizon’s iPhone 4) since Android became the U.S.’s number one smartphone OS. The iPhone 4S’s incrementally improved hardware will not make converts of Android users - and neither will the new features in iOS 5. That much we feel confident in saying.

However, Apple’s renowned build quality, hardware design, simple and smooth UI, and large app ecosystem remain compelling and attractive features for those who live in the Apple world of products, or have yet to make the leap to a true smartphone. The improvements contained in the iPhone 4S serve only to make those benefits more attractive. But something has changed since the last iPhone: there’s some seriously awesome alternatives out there, both in terms of hardware and software. Samsung’s Galaxy S II is probably the 4S’s biggest rival at the moment, but the Nexus Prime and handsets from HTC and Motorola that are coming later this year (along with Android Ice Cream Sandwich) should have Apple sweating bullets this holiday season.

David Ruddock
David's phone is an HTC One. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, imparting a legal perspective on tech news, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Jay

    If I'm not mistaken Siri will not be launching with the 4s but only be available in the spring! By the time spring comes around we would have had nearly 6 months and 3 trade shows with new devices? Yeah they will have to release a new device in 6 months if they want to compete.

    • Chris

      Indeed, I suspect this may merely be a stopgap until next year's May release period. Either Apple ran into unexpected delays, potentially caused by supplier issues (much ado has been made about their supply chain negotiations), or Apple is moving to a 'tick-tock' development schedule like Intel.

      • David Ruddock

        I'm also thinking they're changing the release cycle to the Intel 'tick-TOCK' model. It makes a lot of financial sense, because 4S users will be hard-pressed not to pick up the vastly superior model that would come early next year.

        Of course, we could be wrong, and Apple may have just had a hiccup with this one.

        • Chris

          It makes sense given the two-year contracts standard in the US. Apple has traditionally been able to cater to the high-end market of people willing to pay early-upgrade fees, but if they want to grow their market share, they need to start targeting those who care about carrier subsidies.

          The danger though is falling prey to their own image. Previously, every release was a 'tock,' and telling people that now every other year is going to be only a minor update could be bad for Apple's image as a major innovator, even if nowadays most of the new features are courtesy of an iOS update, rather than a hardware update.

  • Chris

    When Apple declared that the iPhone 4S is supposed to be competitive in terms of speed and power with the Motorola Atrix, among others, I was a bit befuddled. They're benchmarking against a phone that was released more than six months ago, and which has already been long-unseated in the performance sphere. That was essentially Apple throwing in the hardware towel, letting Android take the lead for the foreseeable future.

    It remains to be seen how well Siri performs. I'm also inclined to view it as a gimmick, but I'm also consistently amazed at Apple's ability to make people use something they would not otherwise use. I've never used voice commands at all; if I could, I would probably remove the buttons for voice access so I stop accidentally hitting them. If it does catch on, I can just imagine people loudly speaking commands into their phones will become the new stereotype of rabid Apple fans.

    But Siri was the only groundbreaking new feature, a rather dangerous precedent with Ice Cream Sandwich waiting in the wings. Everything else was copied; iMessage from BBM, notifications from Android, etc. Certainly more polished, but nothing truly innovative, which has been one of Apple's primary selling points in the past.

  • chris125

    I agree apple left the door wide open with this announcement and even the stock drop showed what everyone thought. I could see apple releasing a true iPhone 5 early next year because of how this didn't go over very well.

  • Michael Butler

    Another big miss: we thought we were going to see some sort of vehicle navigation solution announcement (the maps icon was present in the keynote logo), but nothing was announced in that department.

    • me

      The map icon was there because the pin was on the building the keynote was held in. Were you expecting a Clock.app upgrade too because there was one saying 10 (the time the keynote started) too? ;)

  • michael waters

    When a giant of their industry spends more time trying to control competition through the courts instead of letting innovation improve a quality product, the consumer is who loses. If you build a better product, people will buy it, period. It doesn't matter if 20 different galaxy tabs are released that look identical to the iPad, people will go for quality. Imagine the products we could have if corporations focused on awesomeness without having to worry about petty playground antics

    • Anon

      And people do go for the quality product. 75% of tablet sales are iPads.

      • p3ngwin

        no, people go for what they have been convinced to buy. that's what marketing is, convincing people why they should buy something.

        don't mistake popularity, or quantity, for quality.

        • Coollead

          You're silly. The iPad 2 is an amazing product. Marketing helps, but it really is a nice piece of tech. The apps available for it are leaps and bounds beyond what's available for Android tablets.

  • Brenton B.

    You current iPhone users are despicable. Especially you "never ever seeing another update" naive Android users. Everyone keeps saying its the same device when clearly Apple has made some drastic changes.. internally. If you're not satisfied, then don't get it, sit down and shut your nagging little mouths, let us new iPhone users absorb the greatness of iOS 5!!

    • Zep

      Unfortunately, they did not make real changes. here's a list of their internal changes: dual core, slightly better camera, different antennas.

      thats it. thats the entire list. those are NOT drastic changes. if you think iOS5 is great, you're right if you're an iphone user. If you're an android user, you see all the features you have had for a long time... like the 2.1 days.

      • Brenton B.

        regardless, I've just been waiting for the iPhone to come to Sprint. I would even get the iPhone 4 but why stop there, I can afford to cough up a little more for the 4s compared to buying new android phones every 6 months.. if you really think about it, there's not much difference between Android updates and this iOS update..

    • Jeroen

      So you purposely go to an Android orientated site and tell people to shut up about the iPhone.
      Seems to me the more logical thing to do is stay away from Android orientated websites.

      • Brenton B.

        As a current Android user that's fed up waiting for Android updates and or having to purchase a brand new Android device because models released just moths ago are outdated, I think I have the right to explore sites and post what I want.. once I convert to iOS there will be no need for another phone.

        • Ishinder

          Yes why buy the latest technology. Just go back on the curve so that you are already outdated and be content. Nothing against your decision to buy one of those but dont give lame explanations. I would just root my phone and get the latest.

        • Eric

          Wait wait wait...

          You are complaining about new devices coming out? Really? I hope you understand the stupidity of that.

          Right now, I'd say current android phones are comparable to the 4S. In 6 months, there will be new android phones better than both (hardware wise at the very least). Being an owner of either phone doesn't force you to upgrade...

  • Peter

    I'm at a lost about one thing David, anyone else who has an opinion here, please let me know.

    What exactly were people hoping for from apple in the iphone 4s? Larger screen? 4g?
    More android features that are sorely lacking in iOS, like navigation?

    In regards to 4g, the reason apple decided not to include it goes down to battery life, as well as probably keeping at&t happy. I imagine they would have thrown a shit-fit if an LTE iphone was released on verizon's network. 4g is nice, but i'll be honest and say that it's perpetually turned off on my evo 4g unless i'm tethering. It eats through battery life too quickly to be truly useful.

    I'm not going to buy an iphone 4s myself, but i'm curious as to what extra features people were anticipating and disappointed about. It's hardly a cutting edge device, but apple filled out some of the greatest weaknesses, like combining the cdma and gsm antennas.

    I've heard a lot of complaining (not here, elsewhere) that people wanted the iphone 5 instead of the 4s, but it sounds like a matter of marketing to me as much as anything else.

    • David Ruddock

      As to your first hypothetical features, yes. They got the "4G" on AT&T's network, but not on the network whose 4G is actually not craptastic. Of course, battery life and device thickness may have made it an impracticability.

      A bigger screen was high on everyone's list - just read all the blog speculation (even Apple blogs) that the iPhone 5 would have a bigger display. There was clearly desire.

      iOS5 is a big deal for Apple users, no doubt, but software is software - the 4S's hardware remains largely unchanged in the minds of users.

      Dual core, better camera, slightly better battery life, less antenna-signal suckage, and that's about it. Sure, they're the biggest things users were asking for to *FIX* the iPhone 4 - but I think people expected more hardware changes.

      A redesigned chassis. Bigger display. A 128GB storage option. Better call quality. Thunderbolt connectivity. HDMI. A buttonless design. There's a lot of features people were hoping for on the hardware side, and while some of them were a stretch, I think Apple underwhelmed everyone with what was a pretty mundane refresh.

    • http://pthree.org Aaron Toponce

      I have an Evo, and like other Evo users, I hate my battery. But, my battery doesn't drain faster if using 4G over 3G or wifi. In fact, if anything, my battery lasts longer using 4G than 3G, because I have my data faster, and can turn off the radio when finished.

      • p3ngwin

        that's the whole point of the difference between Android and Apple devices: CHOICE.

        you have a battery and you have the choice of how to spend that battery, using it on any features you like to achieve your desired results and lifestyle.

        with Apple they sell you a car with less features and tell you that you can't have them because it consumes too much "fuel".

        i'd like to think poeple would be the best judge of what they want to use their devices for, instead of Apple trying to justify why they don't support standard features and technologies that nearly everone else does.

        Apple is never wrong, it always has the reasoning that it's doing things in the customer's best interests, when really it's bad design and decision making at Apple.

        Adobe Flash is "a CPU hog, insecure and buggy" so that's why it's forbidden on Apple';s mobiles? then why is it permitted at all on Apple's desktops and laptops ?

        it's a justification of Apple's long-standing grudge against Adobe.

        so what do we have with this latest presentation ?

        15 mnonths later from the original iPhone 4 and two of the most MAJOR technologies expected were REAL 4G (not 3.5G HSDPA+) and Near Field Communication (NFC).

        the whole Apple event on October 4th was a complete repeat of this year's WWDC, with the "tacked on" presentation of the news about the ipods and iPhone4S.

        where is the real product Apple, are you out of ideas and presenting more polish to distract from the lack of genuine innovation?

        • http://Apple.com Tim Cook

          No, we have plenty of magic left.

        • Erik G

          They dont use flash... But what about html5... Ant that buggy too...

  • http://brainsparks.net David

    I agree with you on everything but the Sprint side. I just know to many people on Sprint or sick of the high price of AT&T and Verizon that would love an iPhone on the carrier.

    Mind you anyone reading this site would most likely have gotten one of the many great Android offerings current on the carrier, but I can see Sprint selling lots of iPhones

  • Parag

    I disagree.
    I own a Galaxy S and Galaxy S II too!
    Android is good at initial stages, but many of you may have noticed it gets sluggyer and a bit burdened.
    It starts pulling itself to perform. It isn't that fluent as apple's iOS. (Even iOS 4)
    and when we talk about hardware, apple pulled out such smooth operating and freezless efforts in A4 with less ram. Where many android phones can't pull that smoothness and seamless effect if 2 cores and twice the ram.
    As an android user I love android, but hands down apple's iOS is much much more advanced and polished.
    Thank you.

    • Manny

      finally an android user agrees i myself agree even though i love my android i gotta agree that the iphone ios4 is alot smoother and battery efficient yes talking to your phone is new to iphone but its a step up..the only great thing to me about iphone is the music player.

    • Zomby

      As Apple has full control over the hardware, it was easier for them to do hardware acceleration of the OS. We'll finally be getting that with ICS, as well as real multi-core optimizations. Feature-wise, Android is up there an constantly improving. On the technical level, it took a while longer because of the diversity of phones, but it's also getting there.

  • Franco

    Are they laying down basic improvements too get everyone into a false sense of security only too release the next IP5 with complete change and knock out improvements.
    So much so that while others are still rolling out updates for their current(within few months) phones they will release a phone that will take phone use too another level.

    I dont buy into all the (CR)apple products but do see they are making an effort albeit slow at times they do use the brains too make phone go forward and dont usually remain stale in the phone market.

    • chris

      I'd wondered if it might all be a trap too, but just think how many pissed Apple fans there would be if they did that!!

      'Oh, look at my lovely iPhone 4S, it's got a dual core and I can talk to it'.

      'Oh, that's cool. Hey, look at my iPhone 5, it's got a dual core too. And a 720p, 4inch screen along with a 4K camera (never but, yeah...)'.

  • p3ngwin

    very disappointing Apple event announcing a more polished iPhone 4, the iPhone 4*S*.

    same screen size, no real 4G network connection (only HSDPA+), iPad 2's dual core processor, slightly improved camera hardware and software, a few otehr things barely worth mentioning.

    the only REAL worthy feature is "SIRI", the personal digital assistant.

    this really *IS* a feature worthy of announcing, a step in the right direction that you will see more of in technology coming from IBM, Google, etc because computers are going to get rid of the human interfaces of mice and keyboards as we get closer to sci-fi and simply "talk" to them. Android already has a few apps that do this to various extents, and Apple have decided they need it too as they had nothing like it before. this is a good start for Apple in the voice recognition game.

    but this feature is not really worth the 15 month wait for Apple's usually annual hardware launch...it's just another iPhone 4 with slightly better software mostly.

    no REAL 4G with LTE, no NFC, no developer support for app-OS integration, app-app communication (apps are still just "islands" that aren' aware of each other, no real multitasking (go on Apple, tell us again it "drains battery"), no widgets on the home screen, no SD card slot, no standard micro-USB slot, no micro-HDMI without having to spend again for special Apple adapter cable), no home screen backgrounds like Android's "live screens", no user customization.....the list goes on.

    still a polished version of the last polished version, less genuine products being released with each passing year, and more distractions telling consumers how many millions/billions sold/how great we are/FUD/bullshit statistics ("*we sold 10% of our OS faster than Microsoft sold 10% of their OS"*...ignoring there are *1.5 BILLION* PC's and only *54 MILLION* macs, as revealed by Apple's own WWDC this year),etc to distract from the lack of real news.

    go buy this "new" iPhone, same as the last iPhone, but you need it to run the latest version of iOS because we don't release it for last year's model without crippling it.

    seriously, Apple steals half of Android's and Windows Phone 7's features, adds voice recognition, polishes the hardware and presents it 15 months later as a "new" product for $400 ?

    it's like Robbin Hood's evil twin brother..

    • Franz

      I think especially NFC is a big oversight by Apple. They really could have slapped a chip in there without taking a hit in their economies of scale (same screen, speaker, mic etc.). They could have worked their magic and make an easy to use app and get NFC right the first time.

      Now we have to hope for Google to do that, but they face problems, because they insist on their own payment service, which is complete garbage by the way.

  • dirtydozen

    Do you think Steve Jobs stepped down when he did because he didn't want to be a part of the iphone 4s release

    • BK Phil

      I'll admit the thought crossed my mind yesterday, but I quickly came to my senses - the reason he stepped down is that he's mortally ill.

      There's a picture out there (or maybe several) that makes that abundantly clear - he looks like a concentration camp survivor. Skin and bones, sunken eyes, in the worst possible way.

      Very sad. Hopefully he has another miracle left in his pocket, having already used one to save the once mortally ill Apple.

    • ari-free

      Jobs is the kind of guy that would fight until he absolutely couldn't anymore. And he'd even take the original G1, put an apple logo on it and millions of people would buy it.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

    First, I think most people misunderstand Apple. It has NEVER, repeat, NEVER been at the cutting edge of innovation. It almost always wait until a technology is stable enough before it places all its bet. Often, such strategy rewards them with great success, and thus, people ignore the fact that companies before Apple has tried similar things, but failed. As a result, Apple was then seen by millions as the innovator.

    Things got out of hand after the iPhone became so popular. More Apple fanboys were born, and they were even more clueless than the previous generation of Apple fanboys. They just hype and hype, and raise unrealistic dreams on Apple's products. For example, they "thought" Apple will release the iPad2 with a retina-display class screen, totally ignoring the fact that it was just impossible to do that economically back then. These fanboys actually "thought" that Apple can do something that nobody else can do. Apple, of course, did nothing to stop that.

    However, Apple itself is very consistent with what it has been doing. You can clearly seen a pattern from its product development. Remember how long Apple has stick with a 320 × 480 screen? They waited until the iPhone 4 to bring the mass a 640 × 960 screen. So, just 1 version later, its fanboys expected Apple to reveal a new phone that change the form factor yet again? I admitted, even I was convinced by the rumors that Apple would change its practice and released a bigger iPhone. Well, it turned out that Apple stick to its own way of doing business -- the iPhone 4S looks just like the iPhone 4. Disappointed. Yes to the fanboys, but this is actually how Apple worked for decades.

    IMO, Apple has always been a company about refinement. It took various mature technology and put them together in such a delicate manner that makes the end products look like a masterpiece of art. But they are not a company of innovation. If there's something Android makers should learn from Apple, it's their attention to the details. It's really no fun for the Bionic to take 3 second to snap its 1st picture, after all.

    • Chris

      True, Apple has rarely truly innovated in and of itself; it mostly prefers to gobble up small startups with good ideas (as does Google), polish them a good deal, slap an 'i' in front of them, and then release them.

      The issue though is that the 4S is being compared with the 4, which was itself a radical departure from the previous iPhone line. As David points out, speeds have reached the point of near-irrelevance. The 3GS is still around and Apple still requires apps to run on it, so the bar is pretty low.

      Thus, most of the hardware improvements are not noticeable. Everyone and their mother has been trying to improve camera clarity, but even if it's goddamn amazing, they're still a long way from point-and-shoots. The antenna is a fix for a problem that appeared a year ago.

      And unlike the 3GS, which provided a welcome boost in power at a time when hardware had not caught up to software, the 4 was already plenty fast and ran apps with aplomb. That said, Android phones are already rocking 1.5 GHz dual-cores, so Apple can't even say it's bleeding-edge anymore.

    • Larry

      Best post on here. Apple does not care to be bleading edge when it come to technology.

      They care to be the "most polished" and as we can see consumers like that the most as well.

      Apple brings the technology in after the bugs are worked out, after its refined. LTE phones mean nothing to consumers right now.

    • dave

      Attention to detail, an antenna issue thats a MAJOR bungle, thats like toyota recalling all its cars for not bolting in the drivers wheel :)

      • paul

        I agree dave that comment is funny, attention to detail. My flatmates iphone that is drops out constantly. My android galaxy note is faultless. Attention to detail is puting gorilla glass on a portable product so it dosent break, Oh thats right then apple wouldnt get 100 bucks everytime one broke :)

  • Hary Ayala

    i like how the editorial was completely objective until this point : or have yet to make the leap to a true smartphone.

    but yes, the 4S happened to be a joke... too bad for Apple.

    • Jose

      I wouldn't call it a joke, it's a good product still. But it's underwhelming.

      I'm sure it'll still sell amazingly well.

    • ari-free

      we'll see if it has any hardware issues. Then it will really be a joke

  • Ribbys

    On network speeds, why didnt Apple try for the 21Mbps HSPA standard or even expected improvements to that? Big miss.

  • Azazel11

    How exactly do qHD displays suck? I think you might be conflating PenTile Matrix displays used by Motorola and qHD itself. What exactly is wrong with 960x540?

    • Chris

      Nothing with the resolution itself, the only major issue is that most of the time, manufacturers resort to PenTile or other gimmicky display tricks to bump up the claimed pixel count without an actual improvement in clarity or sharpness, relative to the Galaxy S II which is still rocking an 800x480 screen in most cases.

      • xnifex

        The Sensations qHD screen is beautiful & perfect & looks way better than the Galaxy S IIs. The only thing the Galaxy S II has going for it is the AMOLED screen. It should have been qHD too. I'm surprised that with Samsung changing around a few things to the US versions of the phone it didn't decide to change the resolution too.

  • andrew

    This article is completely true. Someone I know, who has a iPhone 4 and is constantly assuring me that android is rubbish asked me earlier "what do you think of the galaxy s II?"

    • Someone that doesn’t report rumors

      They may jump ship but after a week they will be running back

  • Someone that doesn’t report rumors

    I would check your facts pal, the whole $20 billion dollars that sprint wanted to bet on the iPhone was in regards to being the exclusive carrier of the iPhone 5....not the iPhone 4S. While I'm glad your android phone has a bigger screen and a more powerful processor....it still doesn't change the fact that your OS slows down after a week and still looks like its in beta.

    You can compare hardware and decide which phone is a "faster" but it will never compare itself to the whole iOs experience. My iPhone never freezes, quits, slows down, or gets bogged down.

    • paul

      Whats this boging down thing you say about android, ive used android for a while now a htc legend a samsung galaxy s2 and now a galaxy note. No boging down or slowness at all so sorry dont have any idea what your trying to say. I do know one thing the galaxy note is 1 slick android phone. If i was given an iphone i would give it away, my note does everything my computer does, everything is downloaded to phone, even a major update like ics :)

  • http://www.android-advice.com Brandon Orndorff

    I'll give you one (from Gizmodo) http://gizmodo.com/5846982/iphone-4s-upgrade-kit-for-iphone-owners-is-only-99-cents This is the greatest thing i've heard about the iPhone 4s yet. Gizmodo had me rolling when I saw it.

  • p3ngwin

    so you care all about the performance , regardless of the features being there or not?

    Android may not be perfect with it's use of GPU and multithreading, but you are ignoring the FACT that Android is the number one mobile OS in THE WORLD.

    the feature and performance balance are obviously favorable to most people, so you are in FACT in the minority.

    you can love your iPhone, and it's performance, but Android lovers prefer the balance of performance AND features.

    something Apple are not inclined to allow it's customers the luxury of :CHOICE.

    Apple wants to dictate how you use your iPhone to the extent they will not allow you to use Adobe Flash on the internet, even though it is a FACT that the majority of the internet uses Flash (75%) in one form or another.

    Apple even goes as far to dictate that you will not have LTE, NFC, SD card slots, widgets, app-app communication, systemwide app-OS communication, customisation, etc

    these are things that Apple thinks you don't want enough to care to give to you, because Apple thinks you need more PERFORMANCE. hey, as long as people like you care more about performance instead of features, who cares if you have less features than the competition right?

    interesting thing is that you talk about performance, and yet Apple just told you their 16 month late device with a CPU that's below-par compared to devices that have been selling for over 6 months.

    those are some interesting FACTS.

    you may not like Android because it is sub-optimal for your needs, but it's obviously a FACT that you are in the minority preferring an iPhone over an Android phone.

    "My iPhone never freezes, quits, slows down, or gets bogged down."

    i challenge you to prove it's a FACT that is the case for the majority of Android owners.

    you may not care, but you cite this as if it's the reason that Android is not as good as iOS, yet Android is selling more and dominating.

    why is that if you believe so honestly that iOS and Apple's iPhone is better?

    your metric for what is "better" does not seem to jive with the rest of the world that is buying Android.

    • Someone that doesn’t report rumors

      The main reason why android is selling more the iPhone is that it is available on all carriers in about 20 plus different versions; droid, droid incredible, droid HD, etc. LTE is a very limited market right now that is not available everywhere. LTE is still young and kills battery life, just like 3G did when it first came out.

      Flash would be nice but from what I have experienced using android and flash, it wasn't worth the headaches. Might of been a phone issue but it just took too long to load.

      All in all, I know you want to compare this and that and say the new iPhone is already outdated but at the end of the day, my android using friends always make me take the pictures for better quality, check sport scores because the app doesn't crash, and always comment on how fluid and responsive my phone is....even though its almost 2 years old

  • Larry

    We are currently looking at different phones as we are now allowed to upgrade our phones with our corporate contract. Right now our 200 or so users are mostly iPhone 3G and handful of Windows Phone 7.

    We have been testing a number of phones, some of them Andriod. When I read you imply that iOS is not as good ans Andriod OS I want to laugh.

    None of our internal testers like the Andriod OS at all. All of the basically state it is to busy, and not intuitve at all. I will say that are almost tie when it comes to iOS and Windows Phone (manago) version. Granted these are non-technical people but considering they probably make up 90% of consumers...Andriod needs to really polish their OS, or bring some UI control to the product as the HUGE differences between phones when it comes to how the OS and all of the stuff on it varies, it is only hurting them.

    I wonder if all Andriod phones cost as much as iPhones how well the would be selling? Anyone can easily see that cost alone drives many of the sales today.

    • David Ruddock

      Larry, over half of smartphone purchases today in the US are Android devices. To say that Android is failing to please to the majority of people would not mesh with that very concrete fact. My mother uses an Android phone. She likes it. So does my father. I never taught them to use them, either.

      I'm not disputing that in your organization people seem to prefer WP7 or iOS, or their comments about Android's intuitiveness, but the marketplace disagrees with you vehemently - if Android phones were that terrible as far as user experience goes, Apple would have seen a big bump in market share with the Verizon iPhone 4 release. They didn't.

      As for price, Android phones like the DROID BIONIC and HTC Thunderbolt were released with higher 2-year contract prices ($250) than the base storage level iPhone 4. Most flagship Android phones released today have an upgrade price of $200 - or more. The Thunderbolt sold quite well, and I don't think the BIONIC is exactly a flop, either. Also, all those discounts you see on Android devices generally only apply to new contracts, not upgrades, so your argument about Android phones being "cheaper" has a glaring hole in it. Most customers use an upgrade when they buy a new phone, not switch carriers and start a new contract.

      In addition, there are cheap iPhones out there. The 3GS (which still works perfectly well) is free on contract, the 4 is going to be $99, the and 4S $199. Apple lovers do have a number of price options out there that will allow them to experience iOS in all its glory.

      I never called one OS "better" than the other, either - I merely stated that some of Apple's big changes in iOS 5 were features Android already (essentially) had. Eg, notifications, voice control, location based check-in. It's a fact - not a statement of superiority. It's clear Apple has looked at Android and said, "hey, these are good ideas and consumers seem to like them." There's nothing wrong with that, but it does suggest Apple is playing a bit of catch-up. I agree iOS is smoother and has a much shallower learning curve, but have you used a Galaxy S II? It's just as smooth as iOS 98% of the time, and the next version of Android will only make it smoother.

      Something tells me most GSII owners out there wouldn't complaint that they're burdened by an "unpolished" and "busy" OS.

  • gdbjr

    The iPhone 4/4s platform is still a very powerful phone. Sure it doesn't have all the latest dual-core, super LED screens. But the OS makes up for not having the latest hardware. iOS runs super fast. Games and Video run better on the 4 then on my Thunderbolt or Bionic. Now does the phone appeal to the geek. No because it isn't the latest super hardware. But it will appeal to the general mass of consumers. And that is where companies make their money. No one ever got rich just selling to geeks.

  • Droidkin

    Apple's biggest problem with the iPhone....it's just not COOL anymore....

  • Brandon

    Just announced: Steve Jobs Dead at 56. He must have watched that keynote announcing the iPhone 4S and just died!

  • PWRuser

    The truth is somewhere in between fanboy opinions, both Android and Apple.

    The truth is that while Apple's platform was superior 2009, 2010 marked the first appearance of high end Android phones. Since then, Android has been catching up rapidly, both on the software and the hardware front. While Apple publicly stated they don't care about specs, the truth is they always had high end hardware.

    Gingerbread timeline marks the grown up Android platform. At this point, the frequency of Android launches and the adaptability to respond to new technology, innovations, silicon die shrinks will weigh heavily against Apple's new products.

    If the iphone stays on the 12 month release cycle that would pin the iphone 4S as top iOS phone through next October. Now comes the real battle for new smartphone users, both the users switching from other dying platforms and users who never owned a smartphone before.

    While the existing iphone market share cannot be threatened by the SGS2, new smartphone users can easily be swayed by the SGS2. Again, if Apple stays on a 12 month release cycle, the 4S will get smoked by the soon upcoming Prime, Vigor and LG LU6200.

    It gets worse for iphone market share growth when the summer blockbusters arrive, the SGS3 and the next EVO. This is all assuming the iphone 5 launches in October next year. That would make 2012 the year of Android.

    Even if Apple squeezes out an iphone 5 at WWDC, Android high end launches, scattered throughout the year will chew away market share from others, eventually Apple's too.

    It's extremely risky for Apple to stay on the 12 month cycle with Android caught up. IOS is still the favorite target for content developers and providers but the Android numbers will force equality in the immediate future.

    Apple is still very strong on the tablet front but Sony could easily take a good chunk of market share with a Play tablet.
    The hardware can already handle PS2 titles, and it's just a matter of time until a next gen SoC really rocks the boat of mobile gaming. Solid Snake on a high res tablet anyone?

  • Creighton

    Very well written Article! I got another discount and could of became an Isheep follower. But why would I pay way more then I did for the EvoSHIFT I got which is a better phone overall. I really think if the rumors are true of how much Sprint is banking on this then they may have lost there gamble & it will be quite some time before there out of the red again. I hope they didnt invest as much as reports are claiming..??

  • Parag

    You know, in the end, we don't see the dual cores, the huge RAM's inside our phones, nor do we ACTUALLY care about this stuff..
    But what is really important is How does it (OS, phone) Interacts with you..
    I mean, If I am satisfied with a phone which acts perfectly according to my mood it wins!
    I own, and iPhone and a Galaxy S, the other day, I wanted to post simple quote on my FB page.. so I pulled out my SGS and started my WIFI and you all know how it works with Android, it started freezing, started to be all kinda of sluggish, even my keyboard started to respond badly... that's ANDROID! Naked!
    Then I did the same with iOS..
    And you can guess the rest... It just feels like butter.. Amazing!
    No offence to anyone.. this is just the CORE REALITY!

  • Someone that doesn’t report rumors

    Yes android has better hardware on paper but when it comes down to everyday performance, the iPhone platform blows it away....while using hardware that's "6 months behind the competition" as stated by you.

    I went to visit my friends restaurant and the first thing he asked me is if I was going to get the new iPhone to which i replied i was. Him, his fiancé, another bystander and his girlfriend all stated that they were jumping from android to the iPhone. I asked them why and they all stated to me the same thing, "android becomes slow after a week of use."

  • gdbjr

    Is this really an android site? It appears that there are too many intelligent responses for it to me a android site. LOL!

    This is definitely a welcome change from some other forums I used to visit.

    But as everyone else has said, the specs don't matter that much. A great OS will make hardware seem better. And a poor OS can make even the latest hardware run like a turd.

  • http://none J Lo

    Is apple seriously trying to sell this ? Who would buy another unlocked but not unlocked carrier iphone?

    Oct 7, 2011 on http://www.apple.com preorder page.

    "The unlocked iPhone works only on supported GSM networks, such as AT&T in the U.S. When you travel internationally, you can also use a micro-SIM card from a local GSM carrier. The unlocked iPhone 4 will not work with CDMA carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint." and thats $649.00

    Definetly not a world phone if you ask me. Just more corporate run around.
    Apple you have 6 months or droid it is.

  • GraveUypo

    to be honest i'm pretty sure this was supposed to be iphone 5, but it was so underwhelming they had to rename it to iphone 4s just to buy time to come up with something that stands out more without breaking the hype.