iPhone 4S: Five missing features

iPhone 4S: Five missing features

Summary: A look back at today's Apple announcement, and the features that didn't make it in -- presumably for the upcoming iPhone 5 instead.

SHARE:

Today's iPhone 4S announcement has not gone without controversy. Many of the expected features we had longed and hoped for have not come to fruition.

While the iPhone 4S has been boosted on the inside with hardware modifications, including a dual-core processor and memory upgrades, it lacks a physical change of any kind on the outside. In effect, as the name would suggest, it is an iPhone 4 with a few added perks.

Nevertheless, while some will be relatively content with the device -- preloaded with iOS 5, the next generation mobile operating system -- as well as boasting faster, souped up hardware, many will notice that a few things were obviously missing from today's announcement.

Maybe we will just have to wait for the iPhone 5, after all?

1. NFC-integrated technology

It was feasible but a long shot, in my view. With Google Wallet recently out the door and available for NFC-enabled phones, Apple would have had a tough time integrating the hardware in time, not knowing Google would make the first stab at making the technology work.

The wireless payment technology is still in its relative infancy, and Apple does not make a habit out of adding technologies that are not guaranteed to work, or even take off.

2. Teardrop shape

This one I find most intriguing. Obviously, the iPhone 4S is nothing short of a short-term upgrade until the iPhone 5 comes out. Many of the rumours surrounding the updated cases leaked last month show a teardrop shape, setting the technology world into a rumour frenzy.

But as the iPhone 3G transformed into the updated iPhone 3GS, with the next-generation iPhone 4 breaking the mould -- only to be followed by a iPhone 4S of the same design -- I would bet that the iPhone 5 will in fact have a different design altogether.

Of course, as the rumour mill will continue to trundle along, many of these rumours will roll over in effect to the next iPhone update.

3. 4G compatibility

I was not surprised at all when this was not announced. As discussed earlier, the iPhone would need to be much larger in width -- sacrificing its "world's thinnest smartphone" tag -- in order to accommodate a larger battery.

The battery alone would be necessary to maintain the 4G connection for a suitable length of time, for which the user can then recharge the phone.

For now, the technology simply does not exist in a commercial setting to have a thin smartphone, capable of reaching 4G compatibility, whilst not needing to be plugged in every few hours for a power boost.

4. Native Facebook integration

Seeing as the Facebook iPad application has yet to see the light of day, many had hoped that the upcoming social networking application would be released, or at very least announced today. Seeing as Twitter will be embedded natively in iOS 5, it would have been grand to see Facebook integration also.

But as earlier reports suggest, the iPad application is still in 'hiatus' until it can be then approved by Apple. Considering Apple and Facebook are hardly the closest of industry friends, I see no reason why Apple would even do so unless it can see how it can benefit itself somehow.

It would attract more iPad users to the iTunes App Store, for sure. But seeing as the application store is already at the peak of its game, wiping the floor with its competitors, again there is little motivation on Apple's part to integrate Facebook into the iOS 5 operating system.

5. Thunderbolt connectivity

In March, Apple announced support for high-definition video output for now older iOS powered devices. All iPhone and iPad users needed was a $39 cable to port 720p and 1080i content to widescreen televisions and the like.

Thunderbolt ports are roughly the same height as the standard USB port, making it suitable for other Apple hardware, like the Mac mini and the MacBook Air -- but not necessarily for something as small, thin and as light as an iPhone. A micro-HDMI out would have worked, but would have killed off a wide range of accessories and existing cables that Apple and third-party vendors already supply.

Related:

More:

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

11 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

    You forgot the universal 'share' button. It's copied Android's notifications, but forgot to copy the share feature
    Taggy39
  • Thunderbolt is not probable: even 2*10 Gbps chips in MBA consume to much ..

    ... power comparing to the volume of iPhone battery. Even for iPad 3 it is not guaranteed (its battery is three-four times weaker than the battery of Macbook Air).
    DDERSSS
  • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

    Bigger screen is the biggest missing piece. I'd be buying one if it had a 4" screen or larger. But I'll just wait, play with iOS 5 on my iPhone 4 and see what else comes down the pike. Samsung Galaxy S II looks pretty good, but I'll wait on that too and see what gets released with Ice Cream Sandwich.
    txscott
    • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

      @rshol Bingo! As usual, Zack picks "important features" nobody else cares about and misses what's really important. How is teardrop shape even a feature? The first thing I thought when the 4S appeared is, "where's the bigger screen everyone was talking about?"

      I'm frankly thankful none of Zack's list made it into the device. NFC is a bad can of worms to open. Having 4G would have killed the battery and limited the areas where the phone worked. Facebook is already too invasive. Thunderbolt would have made the iPhone unsuable for the majority of current owners who are NOT Mac users. The shape is fine.
      BillDem
      • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

        @BillDem
        I tend not to take the authors of these articles "to task", but for this one I make an exception. Those 5 "missing" features are really quite unimportant to me, and, I suspect, the majority of iPhone users. It comes across as a list simply for the sake of compiling a list. There is no doubt that the 4S is not the 5 we were all hoping for, but that list of 5 "missing" features would NOT have made it a 5! Any reasonable list should be based on the premise of what is missing that would make the 4S a 5. Just my thoughts . . .
        Wakemewhentrollsgone
  • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

    Have to agree about the screen.
    I was looking at the Galaxy S II, but the option of voice to control so many things on the iP4s is giving me pause. Plus, I'm guessing that the camera is better on the iP4s.
    GSavage777
    • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

      @GSavage777 The voice thing will be interesting. It has to be based on the Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking acquisition Apple made. As for the camera, most new hardware is coming out with 8mp these days. Apple is just keeping up with the Jones' there.
      NedVargar
  • Thunderbolt??

    Why would a device need a proprietary Thunderbolt port to send HD content to a TV? Wouldn't you just use HDMI? It can send 720p and 1080p content.
    NedVargar
  • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

    I really wanted an iP5.
    I wanted:
    1. A larger screen...edge to edge, not a bigger phone.
    2. Mechanical zoom for photo and variable zoom for the video, but not a deal breaker.

    What didn't matter:
    1. NFC. No interest.
    2. 4G is a big no go in Michigan. I'm considering Sprint or Verizon. Sprint has 1 city in the entire state of MI that is 4G, wow! No Verizon 4G at the house and lots of holes in MI. I like to surf and talk and do it often in my work. Verz. can't do it in 3G mode, neither can Sprint. My 3Gs iPhone on ATT does consistently.

    I'm really curious about the Galaxy S II, any good articles for an in depth look?
    GSavage777
  • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

    You guys on the sidelines lol<br><br>1. Never have I had NFC to know what its like to NOT have it and, therefore, MISS it. It's NOT missing. It isn't necessary. Most retail stores dont and will not foster NFC for years.<br><br>2. Only unimaginative idiots believed the mock-ups by BGR and other blogs who have nothing better to do like WAIT FOR ACTUAL NEWS before posting rumors as something to hope for to be true. Based on Apple's patterns of upgrading the design of its hardware, the tear-drop was not even a realistic design to expect this release, especially since Apple updates iPhone design based on upgrade patterns of carriers, which in the US and abroad is usually 2-3 years. The 3G/3GS design has worn thin with its users, even though I know a few who remain satisfied with the 3GSs performance. The 4/4S is the upgrade for them. It doesnt take a occupational psychologist to figure out Apples future movements.<br><br>3. Only Android holds any promise for 4G, as Windows Phone and BlackBerry also are not piling it on with LTE. This is not a "missing" feature. It's an unnecessary one, especially when you have to labor to toggle 4G off and on when trying to conserve battery. I got rid of the Bionic in 4 days. It's just annoying not having at least "3G" battery life. Would it surprise you that Cupertino may forgo 4G in 2012 and is a reason speculated upon as to why Verizon continues to beef up its 3G pipes (<a href="http://news.vzw.com/news/2011/09/pr2011-09-12b.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://news.vzw.com/news/2011/09/pr2011-09-12b.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://news.vzw.com/news/2011/09/pr2011-09-12b.html</a></a>)? AT&T, too.<br><br>4. Facebook has barely decent "native" integration on Windows Phone 7.5 and very simple integration on webOS. Other than that, there's no place on any other mobile OS that it being absent "natively" should be considered missing. Having "native" Facebook integration is not a need nor is it welcome with most iOS users I know who are becoming more and more turned off by Facebook's philosophy that drives its changes. Twitter is a much better choice, and probably should remain the only natively integrated social service until stronger privacy controls re-appear on Facebook. The simple privacy controls once present on Facebook circa 2005 were as good as it got, but since then, it has regressed.<br><br>5. Thunderbolt connectivity??? Really? Seeing as how the cost of a Thunderbolt cable is near $50 alone, it'd cost too much to add the receiving Thunderbolt port and add thickness to the current design and any future designs. Maybe on the iPad, but not a smartphone. For devoted Apple users, Thunderbolt is useless if you can cross-sell users on Apple TV and AirPlay. With next to NOTHING outside of Apple hardware using Thunderbolt for media transfer, there's too much common sense to accept the "lack" of Thunderbolt as a "missing" feature.<br><br>These lists are pure crap and show why you guys are just bloggers, while the real agents of change have you on edge even when they aren't really the ones leading to the leaks you write ... ahem ... paraphrase about ... on your site.
    trollCall
  • RE: iPhone 4S: Five missing features

    I was wowed by NFC technology several YEARS ago in Japan when a friend paid for some convenience store items by waving her mobile phone near a register. Yes the potential security issues are scary, but the Japanese have apparently worked most of those issues out.

    One of the biggest missing iOS 5 features for me (going beyond just iPhone 4S) is the lack of a way to globally quiesce sounds/alerts based on time of day (without jailbreaking).

    As for the hardware, I'll admit drooling a bit over the Samsung Galaxy S II and also contemplated waiting for the iPhone 5, but I'm really happy with my new iPhone 4S! :)
    steppinwolf