Why I’m on the fence about the iPhone 4S

When the iPhone 4 was released last year, I was incredibly eager to get one. I didn’t even have my 3GS for more than eight or nine months, but after seeing the design and new features on the iPhone 4, I was sold. When pre-orders became available, I tried to grab one, but the constant system crashes – for both Apple and AT&T — wouldn’t allow me. On launch day, I was at the 5th Avenue Apple Store in NYC bright and early with my colleague, Daniel. The iPhone 4S became available for pre-order last night at midnight. I was in Hollywood partying until 4:00 a.m.

I really like my iPhone 4. The design is still best in class, and it is stupid easy to use. Battery life is good enough that I can unplug it in the morning, and confidently go until late night without worrying about finding a power source. If any of you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll also know that I love the iPhone 4’s camera and the photo options I have via the wealth of photo-editing apps out there. When it comes to design, ease-of-use, battery life and ecosystem, it is really tough to beat the iPhone 4. So why am I on the fence about buying the souped-up version, the iPhone 4S?

To be clear, I am not in the camp that cried, “iPhone 4S? It sucks. Lame, Apple! Where is the iPhone 5?” I can definitely understand the sentiment, but lame? Sucks? Apple dropped the ball? Give me a break. Apple took an already amazing phone and made it even better, but with the banter and complaints I’ve seen all over the web, you’d think that Apple actually owed us something new and failed to deliver. Of course, the Internet also seems to be afflicted with serious, short-term memory, because this sentiment echoes the whining about the 3GS, and how there were no distinguishing factors between it and the 3G. Boo-hoo.

The real hold-up for me are contractual and financial ones. If money were no object, I would definitely upgrade. No question. But because I’m only halfway through a two-year contract, and I can’t justify the cost of an out-of-contract model, the decision became tougher. The iPhone 4S definitely has enticing features: the 8MP camera and new optics are a curious dream for me, and coupled with the A5 processor, I can only imagine the possibilities. I’m also lusting after a 64GB model, something I’d been wanting since the 3G model was launched.

Friends and family have been asking me all week, “Should I get the iPhone 4S?” My answers generally include the following points:

  • If you’re using the iPhone 3G/3GS, definitely
  • If you are up for a contract renewal, sure
  • If you’ll wake up at 3 a.m. with night terrors because you’re the type that always needs the latest and greatest, go for it
  • If you wipe your ass with C-Notes and you want the iPhone 4S, why not?

Basically, if a friend or loved one has the current iPhone 4, is in the middle of a contract and has no real reason to upgrade, I can’t recommend the iPhone 4S. After a few days of consideration, I realized that the real pull for me is the 4S’s new camera, but with the money I’d have to spend to upgrade early or buy out of contract, I might as well put it toward an actual camera. In fact, a new DSLR will be more likely to find its way into my home than an iPhone 4S.

If you were to ask me whether you should upgrade, as a current iPhone 4 owner, I say this: if your phone works just fine now, and you were happy with it before the iPhone 4S announcement, you can find better things to do with your life than try to justify why you absolutely need a dual-core processor and Siri.

  • I look at it a little bit differently. The improvements to the camera’s speed and quality are enough in and of themselves when you have kid events to constantly photograph. But the addition of Siri is enough to make a purchase for my wife a no-brainer. Especially given that most or all of the purchase price can be offset by selling the old phone on Gazelle. And, of course, the CPU/GPU bump is a very nice to have.

    • Anonymous

      Very valid points. I think what I was trying to push is that people should really give it some serious thought before buying, so there is little room for buyer’s remorse later.

  • If you’re using the iPhone 3G/3GS, definitelyIf you are up for a contract renewal, sureIf you’ll wake up at 3 a.m. with night terrors because you’re the type that always needs the latest and greatest, go for itIf you wipe your ass with C-Notes and you want the iPhone 4S, why not?

    100% agree with this! Couldn’t have said it better myself

  • Jon Garrett

    horrible article and stinks of fanboyism.  the 4S is sporting last year’s Android phone’s specs. 16 months of waiting and all you have to look forward to is a slightly faster cpu and a higher megapixel camera !!  meanwhile, Android phones and tablets are about to launch with quad core processors 720p displays.

    I cant believe some of you are willing to start a new 2yr contract for 2 already obsolete hardware upgrades and the same old boring OS now loaded with Android OS features…..2011, year of the copycat huh?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, because EVERYONE wants an Android phone and EVERYONE wants iPhones to be more like Android clones…

  • StrikeGundam

    I was thinking about whether to get the iPhone 4S since I already have the iPhone 4.  Good article.

    Thanks for the advice!

    • Anonymous

      Glad to help!

  • Jeffh

    Nice article, my thoughts were very simular.  The major difference is my contract is up for renewal now and my thought was do I go out on a new contract now and be locked in for the next two years or wait and see what else comes along in the future and then use my contract.  With that I have in the past ‘burnt’ an oppertunity in waiting before for more than the two years – could have had another phone inbetween.  Still great article.

  • Aloner

    You said it.
    The urgent need you had last year to get an iPhone 4 vs your views on the need to buy a new iPhone 4S now confirm Apple has dropped the ball…..

  • Shashwat Amin

    No point in buying as you will get ios5 on the previous ipods, ipads and iphone as well.
    Siri will be everywhere.

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