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Verizon Wireless Apple iPhone 4s Review

by The Review CrewDecember 7, 2011

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The Verizon Wireless iPhone 4s is the latest installment of Apple’s iPhone series of cellular phones. There was a pretty big scandal associated with the launch because Apple invited journalists to what is normally a large upgrade announcement and said “NO iPhone 5″, today we are here to announce the iPhone 4s. Journalists criticized Apple for wasting their time on what was clearly a refresh of an old model.

So what is so different about the iPhone 4s? Well there are a few things that are worth taking a look at.

It has Siri. Siri is an incredible idea and it is well executed by Apple. Basically it is a “Smarter” version of the Android’s talk feature that lets you hold the search button and say “Call so and so” or “Google how fast hummingbirds fly”. Now in this case “Smarter” is a double edged sword. The entire service is basically a big knowledge base. You speak and the system recognizes the keywords, goes out to the Apple servers and does a look up. There are thousands of pre-written responses for common questions and phrases. There are even some funny things like if you ask Siri “Will you Marry me?” she will tell you one of several replies like “My end user licensing does not cover marriage” or “how sweet”. The other edge of the sword is these knowledge base servers are down pretty frequently and as a result so is Siri “I’m sorry I can’t connect to the Internet right now” or “I’m sorry I can’t connect to the servers right now” is the only reply when that happens. Siri is very useful for sending texts while driving “Text Angela”, “What would you like to say” – “I’m bringing 3 friends home with me, just wanted to give you a heads up” and presto the text msg is sent. In addition you can say things like “Remind me to take the trash out every Monday Night” Siri will respond “Ok I’ve set a reminder for you to take out the trash every Monday night, would you like me to confirm it” and you say “Yes” and it is done.

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the battery life and how poor it is. This has not been my experience. The battery life is absolutely on par with every iDevice I’ve had a look at; and I’m very satisfied with it. One thing I am really disappointed in is the fact that the iPhone 4s is still 3G. 4G has been out for over a year. The only reason I can come up with is battery life. 4G devices require a lot more battery and I think Apple (it seems wisely) held off on the 4G implementation is because of battery life. They want to (perhaps) make sure their product has adequate battery and stands up to the legendary status they have had for years.
Antenna issues. The iPhone 4 had the death grip problem. I have not experienced that issue with the iPhone 4s at all. The cameras (plural) are very adequate to do just about anything.

Apple still does not have a facetime implementation that runs off 3G. This is particularly egregious when it comes to their decision to have only 3G on the iPhone 4s. In a time when every Android user on the planet is doing video conferencing on 3G and 4G the iPhone users are still stuck only doing it when they are on Wi-Fi. Apple will argue that their facetime service is better, and I’ll have to disagree because I’ve seen it side by side (Droid Bionic on 4G doing video conference and the iPhone 4s on Wi-Fi doing facetime), there is no difference in “call” quality.

Do I love the iPhone 4s? Absolutely.  I absolutely LOVE Siri. It’s invaluable and if you are busy executive or a stay at home mom/dad, Siri can’t be replaced. I would stay on 3G for eternity just to have this pocket assistant. However, the nerd in me needs another device that is capable of doing the rest of the stuff I want to do… like Video Conference, root my phone, put custom roms on it, etc… And for that I use an Android device. Unfortunately the iPhone 4s can’t be jail broken at this time, which means you can’t have things like SBSETTINGS which is something that I sorely miss. You see I don’t jailbreak my iPhone so I can take it to AT&T (*their service is awful I’d rather smash my phone and get a tin can and a string)… I jailbreak my iPhone so I can use SBSETTINGS which allows me to toggle network on/off (this needs to be done regularly because of a bug in the way wireless networks deal with most cell phones which has to do with 2Ghz WiFi and the 40MHz channel width setting), airplane mode, bluetooth, etc… There are also a myriad of other very useful tools from Cydia (such as an app that lies to facetime and tells it that it is connected to Wi-Fi so you can facetime over 3G). Eventually a jailbreak will come out (I hope) but until this functionality is brought to the iPhone people will seek it elsewhere. If I had both of those things and sometime of winter board theming options I wouldn’t even think about jail breaking.

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[tab name="iPhone 4s Specs"]

Size and Weight3

Height: 4.5 inches (115.2 mm)

Width: 2.31 inches (58.6 mm)

Depth: 0.37 inch (9.3 mm)

Weight: 4.9 ounces (140 grams)

Cellular and Wireless

  • World phone
  • UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
    GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz)4
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology

Location

  • Assisted GPS and GLONASS
  • Digital compass
  • Wi-Fi
  • Cellular

Display

  • Retina display
  • 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch display
  • 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi
  • 800:1 contrast ratio (typical)
  • 500 cd/m2 max brightness (typical)
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on front and back
  • Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously

Camera, Photos, and Video

  • 8-megapixel camera
  • Autofocus
  • Tap to focus
  • Face detection in still images
  • LED flash
  • Video recording, HD (1080p) up to 30 frames per second with audio
  • Video stabilization
  • Front camera with VGA-quality photos and video at up to 30 frames per second
  • Photo and video geotagging

External Buttons and Connectors

External Buttons and Controls

Connectors and Input/Output

Power and Battery5

  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Charging via USB to computer system or power adapter
  • Talk time: Up to 8 hours on 3G, up to 14 hours on 2G (GSM)
  • Standby time: Up to 200 hours
  • Internet use: Up to 6 hours on 3G, up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi
  • Video playback: Up to 10 hours
  • Audio playback: Up to 40 hours

Audio Playback

  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
  • Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
  • User-configurable maximum volume limit

TV and Video

  • AirPlay Mirroring to Apple TV support at 720p
  • Video mirroring and video out support: Up to 1080p with Apple Digital AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter (adapters sold separately)
  • Video out support at 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable (cables sold separately)
  • Video formats supported: H.264 video up to 1080p, 30 frames per second, High Profile level 4.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

Headphones

  • Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic
  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms

Mail Attachment Support

Viewable Document Types

.jpg, .tiff, .gif (images); .doc and .docx (Microsoft Word); .htm and .html (web pages); .key (Keynote); .numbers (Numbers); .pages (Pages); .pdf (Preview and Adobe Acrobat); .ppt and .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint); .txt (text); .rtf (rich text format); .vcf (contact information); .xls and .xlsx (Microsoft Excel)

Sensors

  • Three-axis gyro
  • Accelerometer
  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor

System Requirements

  • Apple ID (required for some features)
  • Internet access6
  • Syncing with iTunes on a Mac or PC requires:
    • Mac: OS X v10.5.8 or later
    • PC: Windows 7; Windows Vista; or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
    • iTunes 10.5 or later (free download from www.itunes.com/download)

Environmental Requirements

  • Operating temperature: 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C)
  • Nonoperating temperature: −4° to 113° F (−20° to 45° C)
  • Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
  • Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)

Languages

Language Support

English (U.S.), English (UK), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

Keyboard Support

English (U.S.), English (UK), Chinese – Simplified (Handwriting, Pinyin, Stroke), Chinese – Traditional (Handwriting, Pinyin, Zhuyin, Cangjie, Stroke), French, French (Canadian), French (Switzerland), German (Germany), German (Switzerland), Italian, Japanese (Romaji, Kana), Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cherokee, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Emoji, Estonian, Finnish, Flemish, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic/Latin), Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

Dictionary Support (enables predictive text and autocorrect)

English (U.S.), English (UK), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, French (Canadian), French (Switzerland), German, Italian, Japanese (Romaji, Kana), Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Catalan, Cherokee, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Flemish, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

Siri Languages

English (U.S., UK, and Australian), French, German

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[tab name="Review Score"]

All in all I do love the Verizon Wireless iPhone 4s.  It was a lot of fun to review.  I’d give it a strong 4 out of 5 stars.  Something to note, we do not Jailbreak our review samples here, but if you plan on doing it to your phone you need to make sure you do not upgrade to iOS 5.01 (if you want untethered Jailbreak) and you also need to know you will void your warranty.  Verizon Wireless, AT&T and anyone else do not condone jailbreaks because you are essentially putting software on your phone that is developed by amateurs and other enthusiasts that could brick your phone.  That can’t and will not be their problem. You can get one here.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.