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Apple iPhone 4S: All the Specs and Why They Disappoint

Apple's new iPhone 4S announcement leaves many feeling sour

Image credit: Anonymous uploader

Maybe we were expecting too much from Apple this time around. Maybe we’re just used to big Job-era Apple announcements with whizzy new product and significant upgrades.

The iPhone 4S announcement is no iPhone 5. Despite more than a year since the last Apple iPhone iteration, it’s time. Maybe it’s a parts shortage. Maybe Tim Cook is conservatively holding it back for marketing or accounting reasons as yet unclear. But the 4S — with few major improvements excepting the dual-core processor and vastly improved camera tech — is only halfway what iPhone customers want from Apple now. Overall, I felt robbed.

Apple, rather than announce a thinner, improved-screen iPhone 5 that is a major step beyond what’s available now, chose instead to do a halfway iteration with the iPhone 4s it announced yesterday. It might bridge the gap — adding some speed via its new dual-core processor, improved antenna for CDMA/GSM, support for the upcoming iCloud and iOS 5 releases, plus a greatly improved camera — but it left me wanting. The 4S, available for $199 up for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, will be available Oct. 14 with iOS 5 and Apple’s flagship iOS 5 apps Siri (a voice-recognition system) and Newstand front and center.

Here are the 5 big changes in the iPhone 4S and a side-by-side comparison of it and its predecessor, the iPhone 4.

For me, the bottom line is this: Paying $199 (plus a 2-year contract renewal) for some speed and a whizzy camera just doesn’t do it. Maybe customers with old iPhones and contracts will be interested, but I’m waiting for a big leap in screen improvement, form factor and other improvements — in the iPhone 5 or whatever Apple decides to call it.  It’s true 4S buyers will gain early access to Apples new voice-command app “Siri,” but even that functionality isn’t groundbreaking. Android-based phones have had more or less the same functionality for months now.

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Here is the full list of improvements and features in the new iPhone 4S, according to Apple docs. Apple lists the following spec list for the 4S on its website. For your convenience, find it below.

Display Specs

  • 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

Location Specs

  • GPS (assisted)
  • Compass
  • Wifi
  • Cell-based

Camera, Photos, and Video

  • 8 MP 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

Power and Battery

  • 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


    • 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)


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

System Requirements

Mac System Requirements

  • Mac computer with USB 2.0 port
  • OS X v10.5.8 or later
  • iTunes 10.5 or later
  • Apple ID (required for some features)
  • Internet access

PC System Requirements

  • PC with USB 2.0 port
  • Windows 7; Windows Vista; or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
  • iTunes 10.5 or later (free download from Apple ID (required for some features)
  • Internet access

Cell/Wifi Support

  • 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


Data: Apple Inc.

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3 Responses to Apple iPhone 4S: All the Specs and Why They Disappoint

  1. Gina Smith October 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    For 3G users, this is worth getting for the camera — if your contract is up. I bet that iPhone 5 serious iteration will arrive december/january

  2. LWATCDR October 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    I have never owned an iphone but people I think a lot of people have unreasonable expectations.
    You are not going to see a bigger screen on the iphone because it would mess up the apps.
    Here let me explain it to you.
    The iPhone programing model is resolution independent but size dependent. Programers give the location of items using points not pixels. This is really great because that means they can make the resolution anything they want as long as they do not change physical size of the screen.
    So until they inform the developers to be ready for different size screens you are stuck. Oh the ipad? It is 2x 2x phones to make scaling easy. Apple can not just make the screen bigger. Well not yet anyway. Give it until the next bump in resolution and then they might have a high enough pixel density for scaling.

    Thinner? Really? Do you want a good camera and battery life?
    You have to have x amount of space for the optics and x amount of volume for battery. Wouldn’t you rather see battery life creep up at this point than shaving .1 mm off the phone?

    Bigger screen not yet technically a good idea.
    Thinner? Talk about diminishing returns people!

    What you do get in this upgrade is
    Not just a speed bump running the classic linpack test the 4 clocked in at over 36 MFlops the Ipad2 which uses the same A5 as the 4s does did almost 4 times as well.
    The improved graphics should also be amazing.
    Then you have the new camera. The old was great but this one looks to be the best available on a cell phone today.
    Siri is the big question mark. Will it be as good as the demo? If so I think people will be very excited by it.
    Really I think that it is popular to be down on Apple now so press is just reflecting that. So far no one has shown a good reason why they are disappointed. Screen size? What is it an ego trip or do you have trouble using the screen? I have an EVO which has a bigger screen but the iphone screen is very clear and easy to read. Thinner? What you don’t have room in your pockets for it?
    Good grief folks.

    • Steve Krause October 7, 2011 at 8:20 am #

      @Lwatcdr – Great comment. You make some very good points. Perhaps the let down is caused by such high expectations…

      I agree with you, if Siri is as good as it appeared to be, this could be an entire new game changer for Apple. Unfortunately I’ve never had any luck with voice recognition so I’m a bit skeptical.

      For now, my upgrade plan is as follows:

      Upgrade my wife to the new 4S (today she has a 3G). That will keep her happy for 2 years at least. My iPhone 4 will keep me happy for another year or 2. After that, iPhone 6 all the way! Hopefully by then it’s just a small piece of tape behind my left ear. Right ear is fine also.


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