iPhone 4S hits UK stores as Siri stutters

The iPhone 4S is now available to buy in the UK, but some fans were disappointed that Siri, the personal assistant app, was not fully functional on launch
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

The iPhone 4S, Apple's latest smartphone, has gone on sale in the UK, though not without some glitches in its virtual personal assistant, Siri.

Apple iPhone 4S

Apple's iPhone 4S has gone on sale in the UK, although users have reported disapointment with the Siri app. Photo credit: Jason Jenkins/CNET UK

On Friday at 8am, Apple Stores around the country opened their doors to fans queuing to buy the handset, the first from Apple to use a dual-core processor. When the iPhone 4S was introduced earlier in October, it received a muted response from analysts and others disappointed not to see an overhaul of the phone's design. However, carrier O2 reported healthy initial sales.

"This has been our most successful launch to date, with more iPhone 4S handsets sold on O2 so far today than iPhone 4 devices in the same period last year," the company said in a statement. "We've seen particular interest in the 64GB and white variants."

The iPhone 4S is being stocked by all major UK networks, as well as being offered SIM-free directly from Apple at £499 for the 16GB version and £699 for the 64GB model.

Some early owners of iPhone 4S have been reporting problems with its Siri virtual personal assistant, a key new feature in the smartphone. Among other things, the app is designed to answer questions spoken in a normal conversational way. For example, if asked, "Where's the closest bank?", it should display and speak information about the local area, including a bank location.

However, some people have complained that Siri is unable to provide local information in the UK, as Apple does not have relevant partners in the country.

"Apple kept quiet about none of Siri's Yell-based stuff working in the UK. At the moment it feels like a 15min novelty that I won't use again," Andy Wilkinson wrote in a post to Twitter.

When people outside of the US do attempt to use the functions, Siri replies: "I can only look for businesses, maps and traffic in the United States, and when you're using US English. Sorry about that."

The iPhone 4S launched in France, Germany, the US, Australia and Japan, as well as the UK, on Friday. It will be pushed out to 22 other countries by the end of October: Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Norway, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland and Mexico.

The launch of the iPhone 4S follows the release of iOS 5 and the iCloud service, which replaces MobileMe as a sync and back-up service for contacts, photos, email and music. Apple began allowing people with compatible devices to start upgrading to iOS 5 ahead of the arrival of the iPhone 4S, but some users reported issues with 'bricked' handsets, and deleted apps and contacts.

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