The iPhone 4S | Localtype

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The iPhone 4S

Originally written on: October 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Last Updated: October 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm


Yeah, so that was a thing that happened. I’m sure everyone who cares has seen the liveblogs, or read the news, or similar, so I’m not going to bore you with the details of what’s available. I will however, give you the full tedium of my take on all this:

T-Mobile is now the only national carrier that doesn’t have the iPhone.

According to Apple’s listed specs, the iPhone 4S doesn’t do the 1700MHz band that TMo needs to do 3G, but it does mention that it can send and receive on the 2100MHz band, which TMo does use. Technically the chip they’re using can do the 1700MHz band, but I am not sure if the 4S antenna can work with that frequency, even if some form of software workaround can be had. This makes me upset, and after all these years with Tmo, I may have to jump ship. My 1st gen iPhone is on its last legs, and it’s time for me to seriously consider options. I’ve speculated before as to why Tmo didn’t get the iPhone, and I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities: either all parties involved thought that Tmo would be swallowed by AT&T, rendering the idea of Tmo as an iPhone partner moot, or Tmo and Apple were in talks, but they somehow broke down. We may never know.

The new camera is slick!

A 5-element, ƒ2.4 wide angle lens, 8 megapixels, and a backside-illuminated sensor won’t give my 5DmkII a run for its money, but it’ll be a hell of an improvement over any other phone, possibly including Nokia’s. Not only will it take a good pic, but it will also record 1080p video at 30fps (can I have a 24fps option please?), with built-in image stabilisation. I’ll reserve judgement on the quality of the camera’s IS until I get to play with it, but it’s undoubtedly going to be a huge improvement over the iPhone 4. Oh, and one more thing… it’s got built-in noise reduction. Tiny sensors suck — it’s just a fact of life. A good built-in noise reduction algorithm will go far in enhancing the quality of the photos and video taken, more than the increase in megapixels. The built-in software has also improved, allowing a much faster time-to-picture, and picture-to-picture performance. They also added the ability to crop and rotate within the camera app. I’ve been waiting ages for this. Finally, they added a hardware shutter (the volume button). I’d prefer a dedicated button, but I’ll probably get over that pretty quickly.

Personal Digital Assistant

Siri, if it works with my funny accent, and the processing time isn’t too long, will be amazingly useful to me. The artificial intelligence used reminds me of the Newton “Assist” feature, which simply knew what you wanted to do, and did it. This time, it’s voice activated. “Lunch with Bob tomorrow” will set up a calendar event for lunch, tomorrow with Bob. Do you have several Bobs in your address book? Siri is smart enough to ask which Bob you are talking about. If it needs clarification, it will simply ask. It’s also proactive. If “I want tacos nearby”, it’ll find all the mexican places near my location, then ask if I want to make a reservation. I hope it works as good as it demos.


The new messaging features are nice, but really, they’re merely fixing what was horribly broken since the original iPhone. In this modern age, a modal dialog box that vanishes when you unlock the screen, with no way to retrieve the information is dumb. In IOS 5, we get something closer to what Android has had shortly after they decided to become an iPhone ripoff rather than a Blackberry ripoff. There’s still a lot I prefer in the Android, WebOS, or even the Windows Phone 7 notifications system, but at least the iPhone is no longer a total joke in that regard. iMessage is good, but I’d like to see more integration with the desktop, and I’d like more control over the destination. A ‘merged message inbox’ is a lovely thing, but sometimes you want your outgoing message to a person to go on a different system than the original.


I’m not going to touch upon too much, as that’s a totally separate article. Suffice to say, if they can pull it off, I’ll be ecstatic. My experience with prior efforts though, is that Apple’s cloud services become unavailable for long periods of time. iCloud promises seamless integration between devices. If it doesn’t work 100% of the time, I can’t rely on it, and it won’t change my current behaviour.

So what excited you? Anything disappointing? Let me know in the comments.




3 Responses to “The iPhone 4S”

  1. Bruno says:

    Lack of 1700MHz also keeps the iPhone off of Canada’s newer (and much lower-cost) networks, Wind and Mobilicity. Unlike T-mo USA, Wind and Mobilicity do both their data and voice over 3G, so iPhones are still completely useless on them, not even voice service like T-mo.

    AFAIK, these are the only three companies in the world using this particular frequency, which probably means negligible sales potential for Apple for the work involved. T-mo is a relatively small player in the US market, and Wind and Mobility are small players in the small Canadian market. Contrast that with Verizon, who had enough customers to warrant a CDMA iPhone, and from there Sprint would’ve only needed different firmware to support it. Not as simple as moving it across different GSM/HSPA networks, but still not requiring any change to the hardware.

  2. Daniel says:

    By which of course you mean T-Mobile are the only company from whom you can’t “buy” an iPhone handcuffed to a term contract. My iPhone 4 runs perfectly on a T-Mo SIM when I’m in the USA, 3G data and all.

    • CM Harrington says:

      I can’t see how that’s possible considering the iPhone 4 doesn’t use the same frequencies that Tmo uses for 3G. You can however, be on their EDGE network, or you could theoretically piggyback on AT&T’s 3G network through data roaming.