How disappointed were you in the iPhone 4S announcement today on a scale of 1 to 10? Most would say somewhere around 11. To emphasize what a disappointment it was, Apple stock fell 5% following the announcement. However, that’s not to say the iPhone 4S is a bad phone. It’s actually the best iPhone ever. So why the disappointment?
1. It was just a minor refresh. Same design, same screen size, same screen resolution, same weight, same everything except some internal changes that make it speedier (hence the S). Sure it got an improved camera and voice recognition capabilities, but honestly most people were pretty happy with the current iPhone 4 camera, and how often are most people going to want to talk to their phone in public? In theory conversing with your phone is an awesome idea and very futuristic, but are you really going to use it while walking down the street with people next to you? The answer is to be determined, but God I hope the answer is no. I can’t imagine how annoying and just plain socially awkward it will be to have people walking next to me asking their phone to tell them what the weather is like outside today. Some things are better left to typing and not bothering people around you. And I’m sure having a conversation with your iPhone is going to do wonders for you with the opposite sex. Not to say voice recognition doesn’t have it’s place. It’s been around on Android for the last 2 OS updates now (FroYo and Gingerbread), and it does come in handy sometimes, especially if you are driving. Being able to speak in an address for navigation, or speak a text message instead of trying to text and drive is pretty awesome and blew my mind when I first started using it. But I really think it’s not something we use 90% of the time, or even want to use 90% of the time…or then again, maybe I’m just old fashioned and getting grumpy as I enter into my 30s. The point is, I think part of the reason why people were disappointed is because there wasn’t really a killer feature that the iPhone 4S has that would make them want to upgrade.
2. The AT&T iPhone is still the only iPhone that can use voice and data simultaneously. Remember, if a phone is 4G, it can use voice and data simultaneously on Sprint or Verizon…and there are many options for 4G Android phones that can do this on Sprint and Verizon. Sadly the new iPhones are not 4G. They still run on the 3G networks, which brings us to our next point…
3. Apple claims that the iPhone 4S download speeds are 2x faster than the iPhone 4, but this is only a half truth at best, for a couple reasons.
3a. The iPhone 4 can theoretically download at 7.2Mbps, and the iPhone 4S can theoretically download at 14.4Mbps, which would be 2x as fast. However, these are theoretical speeds. Real world expectations are most likely not going to be anywhere near that…for example, if you have poor reception now, this new iPhone isn’t going to just automatically improve your coverage and make your phone that much faster.
3b. Only the AT&T iPhone 4S is going to be faster…That new theoretical 14.4Mbps download speed we mentioned above is what you can get on A&T’s HSPA+ network. Since iPhone 4S’s on Sprint & Verizon are going to be running on a CDMA network, they will have the exact same speeds as a lowly iPhone 4. I wonder why that was left out of the keynote?
4. The majority of the keynote speech was regurgitated iOS5 information from the WWDC. People had already heard this info before. While iOS5 brings about pretty awesome updates (like an improved notification system and cloud syncing of contacts, apps, pics, etc), they were looking for something new and exciting that they hadn’t heard about already.
5. A non-4G LTE phone on Verizon is pretty much dead in the water. This isn’t about speed. I’m sure people on Verizon 3G will think it’s plenty fast. But this is about throttling. If you hadn’t heard, Verizon is starting to throttle unlimited data users on their 3G network if they go over a certain amount of data. They haven’t specified exactly what the cutoff point is, but it’s rumored to be around 2GB. That might sound like a lot, but with phones getting more advanced, faster, and more capable, we purchase them so they can run awesome services like Netflix, Pandora, Hulu, HBO Go, etc which can easily run you over the data cap. Just watching a few shows a month and streaming Pandora can put you over 2GB, not to mention the automatic uploading of all those 8 megapixel pictures you’re going to be taking to iCloud. And what about the new iTunes Match feature that Apple is offering for your music. Everytime you want to listen to a song from your online cloud collection, it’s going to download and eat up your data. When you take all this into consideration, you will be wondering “why am I getting this top of the line device that can theoretically run all of these things, but yet I won’t actually be able to run them because of a data throttled 3G network?”
Wrap-up: Am I saying the iPhone 4S is a bad phone? No. It is definitely one of the top devices to choose from. It’s just not that improved from the current iPhone 4. It doesn’t really have anything that distinguishes it as a clear winner over the premier Android phones (like the Samsung Galaxy S2 line). And it doesn’t really make sense to buy it now and be locked into a contract with a non-4G phone for the next 2 years, especially if you are on Verizon. That’s why I think people are disappointed. On the bright side…iPhone 4 owners shouldn’t have any remorse over not waiting for this model!!!