iPhone 4S: Gizmodo Australia’s First Impressions

iPhone 4S: Gizmodo Australia’s First Impressions

Is Apple’s iPhone 4S the next coming of the smartphone, or just another smartphone model? It’s too early to tell — but here’s my early impressions from a couple of hours of testing.

iPhone 4S Launch Day: What Did The Queue Look Like?
Video: iPhone 4S: Siri Australian Accent Test

The queues this morning for iPhone 4S were certainly restrained compared to the chaos of the midnight launch for iPhone 4, although the fact that it could be pre-ordered from both Apple and the three carriers for home delivery, combined with the 8am Friday sell time — right before work for most people — and the wide dispersal of units almost certainly had a role to play in the smaller turnout of folks. You can see all of that stuff as it happened in the photo gallery posted earlier.

So what’s the iPhone 4S like to actually use? Just to be clear, I’m not putting a review here. That would be daft; I’ve only had a couple of hours of hands-on time (thanks again to Optus and Vodafone) with the phone after all.

Not shockingly, there’s not too much I can say about the physical form factor of the phone that any iPhone 4 user wouldn’t be able to tell you. It’s a stunning 3 grams heavier, but honestly, nobody’s ever going to pick that when switching between models — or if they can, they’ve clearly got a job waiting for them in drug distribution somewhere in Colombia.

It’s slightly heavier! I might drop it! Or not.

That’s the external side of the phone however, and my mother always told me that it’s what’s inside that counts. The improved processor, so far, is doing a good job of basic smartphone tasks; it certainly feels nippy, and while that’s about as meaningless a term as I could throw in there, I’ve just not had enough time to elucidate any further.

This is a fast smartphone, but then that’s not entirely unique; I’ll put some time in over the next week or so to really get a proper feel for whether Apple’s managed the kind of optimisation I wrote about earlier in the week, or if it’s just another dual core smartphone in a big pile of them.

The camera is good so far — focus is quick and I can all too easily sneak up behind Kotaku Editor Mark Serells and take pictures of the inside of his ears. I’ll save you the visuals, and clearly this needs deeper testing. The camera that is, not the inside of his ears.

Siri, can we talk?

And then there’s Siri. Siri is fairly clever; the range of inputs it can take in at once is evidence of some interesting language processing going on behind the scenes, but at the same time it’s annoying that the location services only work in the States, and as my video hands-on showed, it’s not always good at picking up accents properly. Ask Siri where the nearest hospital is while you’re bleeding to death, and it’ll apologise for not being able to do that unless you happen to be in the US.

I’m waiting to quiz Apple about the limitations of Siri and when we might expect to see location aware Siri in Australia; that’ll reveal more about whether Siri really will be an indispensable companion or just a sidenote to the iPhone 4S.

Your Complete iPhone 4S Guide

iOS 5 and iCloud are both out now, but that’s only the beginning of all the ground Apple just covered. The deluge is more about extending Apple’s platform as a whole, not just with a specific app or upgrade, and updates and new features abounded.

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