iPhone 4s review

The iPhone 4S is a great piece of kit, and one of the best devices Apple has ever produced. It's easy to find things that will make you coo with excitement, and the way the phone is packaged makes it very easy to use from the beginner to the expert smartphone user.

Every time we write a new iPhone review we wonder if it's enough of an upgrade to warrant being heralded as the next greatest phone (aside from the iPhone 4, which was a real step forward).

We are left with the same feeling with the iPhone 4S - is an upgraded camera, new processor and voice recognition enough to encourage phone sales on a record breaking scale? In all likelihood, yes; Apple has never failed to create an update to a phone that just manages to sneak over the line of being desirable enough to update to, and the iPhone 4S is no exception.

We liked

What do we like about the iPhone 4S? Everything we loved about the iPhone 4 and more. The Retina Display is still one of the best on the market, and even in 16 months very few phones have managed to come close to the eye-popping quality.

The new camera is fantastic, and as we said: a genuine alternative to a compact point and shoot. We know that's been said before, but we were mightily impressed for a day-to-day snapper.

The upgraded processor is going to be a real winner in the future when more heavy-duty apps and games start coming to the market; right now there's not a lot going on that can really draw on the improved graphics and CPU, and the phone was already pretty snappy anyway.

Siri is a fun tool - we're undecided about its use in day-to-day life, but there were enough useful options to play with to make it genuinely worthwhile.

We disliked

The gripes we have with the iPhone 4S are the same ones we've had for years with Apple's iPhones, and despite the record number of sales for the phones we still think they need to be addressed by Apple.

Flash video. We know it's a tired thing to keep talking about, but if Apple isn't going to allow it to work on its phones then it needs some kind of strategy to rid us of the annoying 'You need to download the latest version of Flash player' notifications on websites.

The price: it's still way too high in our opinion on contract, with the upfront cost for the iPhone 4S way in excess of anything else on the market on the same tariff. When you see that the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Sensation can be bought off contract for the same cost, you have to question where that up front fee is coming from.

The contacts list needs an overhaul too, as it's still too spartan for our tastes. Some sort of social networking integration, message history or album connectivity seems right up Apple's street, so we're still wondering why the firm has yet to improve this section.

Verdict

Let's make no bones about it: the iPhone 4S is one of the best phones on the market at the moment, and the best thing Apple has ever created.

It's got all the right bits right: good camera, slick web browser, quality screen - and made it all work together in the way we've come to expect.

Some people might be disappointed not to have seen the fabled iPhone 5, with the larger screen and new design, but the iPhone 4S is more than enough to keep Apple fans happy.

Simply put: if you've got an iPhone 4, you don't need to upgrade (as long as you update to iOS 5) but for anyone else on an older device, or hankering after finally making the jump to an iPhone, you should run down to the shops and pick one up now - you won't regret it.

Thanks to O2 for sending us the iPhone 4S to review!