Should you get an Apple iPhone 4s? If so, which carrier?

From the looks of all these iPhone 4S reviews suddenly hitting the web, it seems Apple's press embargo has just lifted.

TL;DR consensus is that the latest revision of Apple's dominant device is really, really good.

Brian Lam wrote a helpful buying guide over at Wirecutter, with pros and cons of going with Sprint, AT&T, or Verizon.

And now, the review roll call: Mossberg, Gruber, Pogue, Chen, Siegler, Jaroslovsky, Snell, Nguyen, Dalrymple, Topolsky, Fry. Boing Boing did not have access to a loaner review unit, but I am eager to try out the improved video and photo capabilities. I plan to buy one and report back with sample footage soon.


    1. It’s entirely possible that these folks all received review units a week ago. This is one week after the launch event, and one presumes all were present at the launch event.

    2. At least a couple of reviews I’ve seen actually say exactly that – Apple gave them an iPhone 4s to use for the week.

    3. The way the press embargo works is that they are given access to technology or information before the public with the understanding that they won’t write about it until a certain time.  If they violate the rules, they will never be given access again so it’s in their best interests.  I suspect they all have been using the phone for at least a week.

    4. It’s been a week since the announcement, and I’ll bet they have indeed been using it as their only device for that period. That also assumes that they didn’t get them ahead of time – possible for journalists such as these, even for secrecy-obsessed Apple.

      That said, given the lack of external changes this is much more an incremental review. Anything they knew about the iPhone 4 still applies, so it’s a matter of testing speed, camera quality, Siri (a lot), and some battery rundown tests. Even iOS 5 has likely already been tested as it’s been in beta for several months.

  1. I’m getting one.  After reading everything on the Apple site, I think it will be a really nice upgrade from my 3gs.  Sticking with ATT, as this is an upgrade price for me, plus I get a 22 percent corporate discount on my entire bill.

  2. In fact, this makes me wonder: are Apple following Google’s policy of real names but in a manner that is more likely to embarrass you than anything:

    There is an option to enable Photostream, which keeps every picture you take for ever. Be warned. You cannot delete a picture once it is in Photostream. There may well be blushes within families who share devices and discover that a photo they would rather not be seen is permanently on view, but they’ll have to learn the hard way. iOS 5 will make your existing iPhone so like a new one that you might even forget the iPhone 4S …

    I guess it’s the death of Amateur porn.

    this post refers to Stephen Fry’s review

  3. I will probably get one just for the camera. My iPhone 4 has replaced my point and shoot Canon because it’s oh so much more convenient, and the quality is actually not bad but it’s not quite where I want to to be. You can do a lot with the iPhone 4 and I actually find cell phone photography a sort of fun challenge — trying and do more with less. You’re not going to match the shots you’re getting with your 5D, but that’s ok. I actually had an acquaintance make the perpetually annoying “That’s a nice picture, what sort of camera do you have?” comment the other day, and took it as a compliment when I got to reply “I took that on my iPhone”.

  4. I’m curious to find out how the camera performs under tungsten lighting. The iPhone 4 is terrible – it doesn’t adjust the white balance properly, and everybody ends up looking like oompa loompas. Despite replacing the unit several times, numerous complaints, and incremental improvements over a number of updates, it’s still awful.

  5. My plan is to go for the unsubsidized model next month and hole up at Virgin Mobile with a data only plan for as long as I can.  I think I can survive off of just Google Voice and e-mails.

    1. There’s also the T-Mobile/Walmart $30 a month Monthly4G plan that’s supposed to be available starting on the 16th. I dunno if you could use an unsubsidized iPhone 4S with it or not, but it’s worth considering.

      Since Apple didn’t go with LTE for the iPhone 4S, that means Verizon’s version will have the slowest data connection of all the iPhone 4S carriers. I think I’d go with this T-Mobile/Walmart plan if I could use the phone I wanted, and hope that the ATT/TMo deal either falls through, or that ATT is forced to grandfather in TMo contracts.

      1. You could use an unlocked iPhone 4S on T-Mobile but it would run at 1/64th of the theoretical max speed (238kbps EDGE v. 14.4Mbps HSPA+) so hardly worth it. 

  6. 8.6/10
    From the original editors of Engadget (now The Verge)
    I agree it’s a good phone, but I will pass on it.
    Waiting for the Samsung Galaxy SIII, and HTC Sensation, also in the first months of 2012 you will see the new wave of QUAD CORES (NVIDIA Tegra 3 phones).

  7. Double the processing power, 7x the graphics power, 2x larger camera.  It’s a pretty significant upgrade.

    I am excited about what that means for photos mainly but Siri is just to awesome. I had a Nexus One when they first came out and just being able to dictate in any text field was nice. I had many a lonely but effecient conversation over gchat  that I would have never had the stamina to maintain via phone without it. The obvious advantage to Siri is the “intelligent” part.
    It takes 10 clicks to set an alarm. More to add a name, even more to set an appointment and invite people. It seems so trivial but being able to talk to your phone naturally and have it respond accordingly is a big deal. Remember how hard people held onto the stylus in 2007. It was so impractical. People wanted to be impractical. Everyone is talking all day at most jobs, unless your job is at a library. Asking your phone or computer a question, so long as it’s not about your private business is appropiate 99% of the time in most places. Plus maybe people will be staring at their phones typing away less now that it is possible. To me some noise is way better than shouldering assholes staring into their phones.

    Between this and kinect/face recognition  I am excited. I would love to casually say to my device. “Check for tickets to _____ between the 3rd and 10th of next month” the results come back, I am writing an email or doing something else… “which is the cheapest?”  I get up to go pee… it knows I am gone, I come back and it reads them to me. It’s all too expensive so I make a pissy face and it responds with “These results seem unsatisfactory, would you like to search for other dates?”

    People will overlook it until they are at a bar and their friend lets them try Siri, and after searching for “giant black dongs,” asking it “what is the world record for “largest canine scrotum”  is and sending a TXT “to mom: I think you are hot” they will see the that it may actually apply to non dong/scrotum/asshole jokey things.

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