Verdict: iPhone 4S, yes! Price is the killer feature
Apple's iPhone 4S announcement turned out to be a bit of a letdown for the press and the tech crowd, but we're still likely to see the new iPhone fleet win over a lot of upgraders and new customers. For that reason, I'm going to rule against the crowd on this one and declare Matt Miller the winner of the debate.
The iPhone 4S has its weaknesses, as Jason Perlow pointed out. The lack of a 4G LTE version will rule out an iPhone purchase for many high-end tech buyers, especially those who want to do LTE tethering. There's also the issue of the undersized 3.5-inch display and the question of whether one of the best new features -- iCloud -- will be able to handle the crushing load of traffic and maintain acceptable uptime.
But, there are more things tipping in the iPhone's favor. It still has by far the best and simplest integration of hardware, software, and services, and Android's inconsistency in this area is driving some of its first-gen customers to consider the iPhone instead. In the U.S., this will be the second iPhone to land on Verizon and the first one to land on Sprint, and Apple is also extending the number of carriers internationally. Finally, with iPhone 3GS turning into a free phone (with contract) and the original iPhone 4 (8GB) dropping to $99, there are going to be a lot more people who are willing and able to buy the iPhone. While all of the tech specs do matter, price will likely be the killer feature for the iPhone over the next year.
Doc's final thoughts: iPhone 4S? Save your money
Even if you assume that all the speculation is correct and the iPhone 4S comes with dual-mode capabilities, voice control, an A5 processor, better antenna (about time), HSPA (4G sort-of) and the new iOS5, it’s still just another incremental device and nothing to get too excited about. Apple is good at making great products, and I’m sure the iPhone 4S will be just as terrific as previous versions.
But aren’t we all getting a bit carried away with our insatiable appetite for the latest and greatest gadget? The cell-phone industrial complex has us sucked into their endless year-after-year contracts, mostly because we can’t stop upgrading. Apple is making tons of money from people buying things they don’t really need. And all of this in the midst of a recession. Surely, we can find better things to do with our time and money than upgrading from an iPhone 3 or 4 to an iPhone 4S. I mean it’s great to spend and keep people employed, but Apple has enough of our money and probably isn’t facing layoffs anytime soon, even if some people hold on to their iPhones for an extra year or two.
If you don’t have an iPhone, then this may be a good time to jump in; but if you have an iPhone 3 or 4, go ahead and give this upgrade a miss. Your life won’t materially change.