When Apple announced the iPhone 4s, a great number of people seemed to be disappointed that it wouldn’t be an iPhone 5, but given the previous rollout of the iPhone 3Gs after the 3G, I thought that to be plausible and expected. As I lean heavily on Apple products and I had upgrade pricing eligibility, I got up extra early to pre-order my iPhone 4s at 2AM on October 7. I didn’t actually get to pre-order it until about 3AM thanks to a non-functioning online Apple store, but they were kind enough to throw AT&T under the bus and claim it was a problem with their servers.
On the morning of October 14, I finally received my iPhone 4s and immediately jumped right in to get things started. I was greeted by a screen that wanted me to plug it in to iTunes to activate it, which is par for the course on a new iPhone. Suddenly, my smile started to turn upside down as my numerous attempts to activate it were unsuccessful. After a fruitless call into AT&T support, then Apple support, I made a trip to the local AT&T store. There, we discovered that my phone was seemingly defective, but because I had purchased it from Apple, my only recourse was to send it back to Apple or visit an Apple store.
Thankfully, I happened to be heading to Houston that evening and after another call into Apple support on the way, I was assured that I would be able to exchange my defective iPhone 4s for a working unit at the store. When I arrived, I was able to walk right in and get started on the exchange, but that was the most crowded I’d ever seen an Apple store. In fact, when I left, there was a line of about 40 people waiting outside the store.
After a couple attempts to get the “new” phone working, they went ahead and replaced it with another unit. I must admit that the level of service I received at the Apple store was fantastic, as the manager himself dealt with the exchange and waited with me for the activation to process. When it was completed, he even gave me the protective case of my choice as his way of trying to make up for my problematic experiences. While this by no means made up for the four hours I spent on the phone and in various stores, it certainly made me feel a little better about my Apple experience.
The iPhone 4s is exactly the same as the iPhone 4 from Verizon in appearance. Feature-wise, the new iPhone 4s brings a few new things, like the faster A5 processor and the superior 8-megapixel camera. This iteration of the iPhone is also the first to work on both CDMA and GSM networks, as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all had the iPhone 4s available at launch. Sure it is faster, and yes, it takes better pictures, but the biggest thing that impressed me was Siri, the voice-command feature that understands natural language. Siri is fantastic, and I’ve been using it quite a bit in my day to day activities: composing text messages and emails, setting up events on my calendar and reminders, searching for places or things on the internet. This alone is worth the price of the upgrade for me.
Of course, the iPhone 4s shipped with the latest operating system for the iPhone and iPad, iOS 5. This brings to the table a ton of new features, and we’ll take a look at these in my next column.