If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

Summary: The iPhone 4S is selling like crazy, but its hardware enhancements alone are not worth the upgrade

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In previous years I've either been one to stand in line, or one to sit at home anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new iPhone. This year, however, was a bit different. First off, I wasn't able to read the live blogs in real-time, so I caught up on what was announced after the fact. Second, most of the "new" stuff that was announced wasn't new at all, since I'd been playing with both iCloud and iOS 5 since beta. That said, Siri was new, in its implementation, but I had been playing with it since early 2010, when it was a standalone app. Of course, we knew then that whoever bought the company, the true power of Siri would be in its full integration with the handset, and not as a standalone app.

At any rate, with the above in mind, when the iPhone 4S finally was available for pre-order, I placed my order and was then told that it would be arriving at my door on October 14th. This gave me the false impression that sales were not nearly what they had been for previous launches--boy was I wrong. As Apple themselves have reported, orders topped one million in the first 24 hours. This is just pre-orders, so I can't even imagine what it's going to be by the time Apple has its earnings call on Tuesday.

As for the arrival of my own iPhone, I mentioned above that in previous years I've waited in line. Well, this year I wasn't even home to receive the iPhone, opting instead to pre-sign for the delivery. So, when I finally got home on October 14th in the late evening, I found a brown box at my door, opened it, and then turned it on. The next part was pretty straight forward, opting to initialize it as a replacement phone for my existing iPhone 4, and then watching as it authorized, and then asked to be synced with my iTunes.

When syncing was complete, the feature that I hadn't had a chance to play with was Siri. Well, for me Siri didn't work "out of the box". After repeated failed attempts to talk with Siri, I finally rebooted and then Siri worked great! By the way, I've since found out that Siri has been known to hiccup and if it does, follow Matt Miller's guide to re-initialize Siri.

Now I sit two days after receiving my iPhone 4S. I don't have the excitement in my body that I've had in year's past, probably because I didn't wait in line for hours to get my hands on the new iPhone, not to mention that it wasn't revolutionary, like previous upgrades have been. That said, the camera is faster, the pictures look sharper, and the phone is much faster overall, and of course, notification center is a must-have.

One really cool thing about the 4S, though, is its implementation of Siri. Without any training, anyone can ask it just about anything. This has proven to be the most interesting part, since my seven year old sent a text message to a friend of mine via his voice and then remarked, "Wow! I didn't know your iPhone could talk!" Of course, my wife's reaction was to be expected with her usual, "that is so annoying", when Siri misinterpreted a statement I made.

The above has me wondering if it hadn't been for Siri, would the iPhone 4S be yet another upgrade and something that most users would pass on? Did analysts and reporters initially call the iPhone 4S a dud after the keynote because it hadn't been introduced by Steve Jobs, who could make a different colored piece of paper a must-have for everyone with white paper?

I think that right now people hear about Siri and think, "my Android phone does that". But as they read more about Siri and hear people literally talking to their iPhone, more people will take notice and pick up Apple's latest offering.

One more thing: if you're wondering what kind of things you can say to Siri and what responses you might receive, check out shitsirisays.com.

Topics: iPhone, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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103 comments
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  • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

    I don't think anyone can even comprehend the ground breaking technology that Siri represents. This isn't just another voice to text app, but the beginning of artificial intelligence for the masses. This is going to be HUGE. I expect to see Siri applied at first to our computers and iPads and then our cars, appliances, televisions and things we haven't even thought of. It's the Jetsons coming to life!
    direct007
    • I agree, but I think Joel is 'trolling' with the headline, since iPhone 4S

      @direct007: ... has <b>obviously superior hardware</b> -- starting from classy steel and glass enclosure (in contrast to cheap creaky competitors), and going to record-breaking browsing speed, from 75% to few times faster graphics and vector/multimedia floating point speed, times faster camera with vastly better image quality (due to bigger aperture, IR filter, additional lens, image signal processor, gyroscope and accelerometer video stabilization) -- comparing to competitors. And while certain competitors are going to produce devices with retina-class display, these have size of a VHS cassette. Smaller devices like Samsung Galaxy S 2 have twice lower resolution/clarity/details.<br><br>For now, nothing can beat iPhone 4S on hardware side (in some areas, not even close). Even if there would be no Siri, countless hordes of people would want upgrade either from iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs or from creaky Android smartphone or from regular phone.
      DDERSSS
      • Almost....

        @DeRSSS
        I just wish they had jumped the screen to 4" at least and added 4G.
        Only thing that stopped me from getting one..... on the hardware side....
        rhonin
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        They're likely not going to be increasing the screen size, as they haven't for the first 5 iterations of the device. I also don't see why people like 4G so much, though I might be biased because I have no 4G coverage at all where I'm at.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • Screen sizes over 4&quot; are a pain.

        Having used 4.3" devices for a week, any device over 4" is a desk breaker for a phone. 3.5" to 4.0" is the sweet spot and any larger is simply jumping the shark.
        Bruizer
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @DeRSSS <br><br>"going to record-breaking browsing speed"..."nothing can beat iPhone 4S on hardware side...."<br><br>Haha. No LTE support.<br>Compare the browsing speeds with Droid Bionic with LTE. Try streaming an online HD Video ... record browsing speed indeed :-)
        CyberGuerilla
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        So it would be record-breaking in a majority of the US, where LTE is not an option?
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @DeRSSS How is it living in Neverland? You're delusional. Just take the Samsung Galaxy SII and compare it side by side. It wipes the floor with the 4S. No contest hardware wise.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @Bruizer The size is dependent on what you want your device to do well. If it's just as a phone, even 3.5" might be too big, but if you're talking about only having to carry one device, then the sweet spot is 4.5 - 5.5 inches. In your scenario you would still need a tablet according to Apple (btw, that's why they won't increase the screen size), but in my scenario all you need is one device that can do 95% of the work of both a tablet and phone. The other 5% can be handled by a netbook.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @mrxxxman That might be the sweet spot for you but it doesn't make it the sweet spot for everyone else. Not saying you are wrong in regard to your use/preferences but you are when it comes to at least some other people. I could see myself with a 4" display phone but don't think I want a 4.5" and definitely don't want anything bigger than that. Sure the larger screen is better so some tasks but that benefit does not outweigh the negatives of always carrying around such a large device for me. Of course that is my opinion and none of us are wrong in what works for us but both of us are absolutely wrong if we every assume it applies to everyone else.
        non-biased
    • So What?

      @direct007
      SIRI? okay, it's a nice step up from it's predecessor but not "ground breaking".
      No matter how good it is, will it be, at this stage, anything more than a gimmick? I don't ask that rhetorically.
      I have used SIRI on the i4 and numerous other "Voice Apps" on both iOS and Android. They all suffer from the same problem; noise.
      In the locations that I would use it most, they very frequently have difficulty filtering out the background noise. This occurs enough and is frustrating enough they have never really caught on. It is the reason I stopped using it. I don't expect any different from this upgrade to SIRI.
      Unless there is some major kick-ass noise cancellation built into the 4S...
      I drop this right into the same bucket as Ping and Facetime. It's there, some will use it, some won't, but it won't really catch on.
      Maybe someday.
      rhonin
      • It will be more than a gimmick.

        I expect that there is, indeed, noise cancellation. I also wouldn't call this anywhere near as bad as Ping, which is just a joke.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @rhonin It's a gimmick and people are just now discovering how limited it really is. It can't do a whole host of things. And you need a data and GPS for it to work increasing your monthly expenses since most people don't pay or can't pay for unlimited data.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @rhonin Really need to try it on the 4S before you can make any kind of judgment on it. Who knows what advances were made to the software between what used to be available for the 4 to what is now on the 4S let alone possible hardware advantages for the 4S. I have never used Siri on any device so can't say.
        non-biased
    • Siri has been around for quite a while

      @direct007 <br>It has been an app for quite some time yet it didn't break the ground we walk on.<br><br>In case you are wondering though, it is no longer an app because after Apple bought the company that developed Siri, Apple stopped allowing the Siri app to communicate with Siri servers.<br><br>Apple bought some really good technology when they bought Siri and if it is suddenly considered ground breaking, it is only because the media is going to portray it as Apple Siri instead of what it has been up until now which is "just" Siri. Since it is Apple Siri though, it must be, by definition, ground breaking.
      toddybottom
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @toddybottom

        Nicely said.... I love how Apple is getting the credit for this feature when they bought it from someone else. Other companies do that and they get called thieves, but when Apple does the same thing it is called Revolutionary and Magical. I also love the excuses that it is not available in the iPhone 4 because of the lesser hardware when the truth is more likely Apple wanted use this as a selling point to get people to upgrade from their current iPhone 4 models. In my opinion anyone that upgrades at every latest iGadget generation has more money than sense. I like my iPhone 4 as I liked my iPhone 3G but did not even think twice when the 3GS came out and now the 4S. Maybe with the iPhone 5 and my contract is up but then again maybe I will go with some other phone. Who knows.
        bobiroc
      • I agree

        It is very difficult to justify upgrading from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S.

        I really like my iPhone 4. Fantastic phone. The iPhone 4S is even better of course but it is only a tiny little evolutionary upgrade. If Apple didn't buy Siri and promptly remove it from the App Store, there would be no reason to upgrade from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S.

        And for those who talk about the speed increase, are you suggesting that the iPhone 4 has been slow up until this point? Of course not. All apps have been written to run just fine on the iPhone 4 (and the 3GS which is even slower than 4). Upgrading to the 4S is not going to make your games run at twice the speed and if it did, that would actually be a bad thing, not a good thing.
        toddybottom
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @toddybottom Agreed. How nice of Apple to pull the app too so their current iPhone users can't use it. They didn't have to do that, I'm sure.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

        @toddybottom <br><br>"Google bought some really good technology when they bought Android and (if) it is suddenly considered ground breaking."<br><br>I just changed two words and inserted some brackets. 'nough said.<br><br>All companies buy and adapt other technologies. Some make something of it, others do not.
        jorjitop
    • RE: If not for Siri, would we care about the iPhone 4S?

      I got my free black macbook at http://getamacboook.gu.ma/
      vikkigirlliee