Something Old: The iPhone 4S Long-Term Review

Did you hear my big news? If not, go Check it out, short-form or long-form, right after you read this.John Smoltz discussed his experiences months later with a Nexus 7.

Which led John Gruber to point out:

One thing we seldom get are reviews of products after they’ve been used for an extensive period of time, a year or even further out.

So, doing my part here's a review of my iPhone 4S, now almost 18 months old.

I love my 4S. I've owned the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 4 and now the 4S, and I'm continually amazed at how dependent on these devices I've become in that time and also how far the technology inside them has advanced in that time. In the summer of 2008, I was blown away as I gave up my flip-phone (which I'd just begun to text with) for this slick little piece of touch screen amazing. It was the birth of my interest in podcasts and I got to enjoy the App Store explosion as the world raced to take our money $0.99 at a time.

Suffice it to say, that I'm fond of the iPhone brand, and I was more than predisposed to like the 4S. And I did. It was everything I'd loved in the iPhone 4 with better reception, faster processor, more memory and a better camera. It also had Siri, but frankly, Siri has been (until very recently, and even then only with realistically calibrated expectations) a disappointment. It is a much better voice control for your phone than we had before, and handy for appointment management or texting while driving, but it's not the massive shift in AI that the advertising would have us believe.

Siri was a novelty at first, a disappointment second and eventually a very useful (if wildly overhyped) tool that's included in your ever-present cell-phone. A welcome addition and the foundation for what could someday be an amazing audio-first computer interface. The kind perfect for embedded devices, automobiles and wearable computers.

But this isn't a new review, this is a story of what's become of my not-so-shiny tech bauble now that's it been dethroned by competitors and its own company as well.

Before the iPhone 5 was announced, I wanted to skip it. I didn't want to go through the hassle of upgrading since I wasn't even eligible for the upgrade pricing to begin with. I didn't like the rumors that pegged the primary difference as a larger screen. I didn't want to be the guy that was constantly upgrading devices. I also didn't want to spend the cash.

So I hardened my heart against the iPhone 5, and it worked. Mostly. Sure the 5 was bigger, but my 4S had every bit as much resolution. They both shot 1080p video. You had Siri, so did I. So, even after holding a friends's 5 and being amazed at the reduction in weight and the great feel of the aluminum, I was still able to love my 4S. And it is loved, don't doubt it.

18 months into our life together, the 4S is still more than adequate for me. With the upgrades to iOS since its release, I now tether to my iPad (or even my iMac when the house connection went down recently and I needed to get work done), connect by Bluetooth to my car stereo for podcasts and music (streamed from iTunes Match) even radio from my companies stations with the Red Peach Radio App, get voice directions from Apple Maps (or Google if I wanted to make it to my engage,emit party this weekend, the first time Apple Maps have failed me), control my computer, my cable box, my Apple TV and a dozen other amazing things that weren't even possible half a decade ago.

Yes, I know that I could do all that and more (and faster, and prettier, and BIGGER) with an iPhone 5 or any of the recent Galaxy devices. My point is, the tech has advanced so fast that even classic early-adopters like me can stretch the useful lives of their devices much farther than in the past. Which means that "normal" people can again (or soon will) be able to reasonably hold onto their cellphone for 4 or 5 years between upgrades. The hardware is getting that good.

I think I'll stick to a two year cycle and I do look forward to upgrading to either the 5S/6 or the cheaper iPhone if one is launched. The rumor that we'll get an iPhone 5 body with a colored plastic shell has me awfully excited. Not in small part thanks to device I just added to my iPhone. I'll tell you about it in the next post.

So, what's the rating? I don't ready do five star systems. What's the difference between 4 or 3 stars? Too hard for me to tell. I'll just say that it's a keeper. 18 months in I'm still thrilled with the purchase, would make it again tomorrow and now that I am eligible for the upgrade, I'm fine with waiting for a new release (even if that isn't until fall) before sending it off to the iPhone farm in the sky. That's about as sound a recommendation as I could give.