iPhone 4S review

Same shape, different brain - is it enough of a change?

iPhone 4S review
The definitive iPhone 4S review

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One of the greatest things about the original iPhone was the Safari internet browser, and that's still the case with the fifth iteration of the phone.

The iPhone 4S has the new and iOS 5-upgraded browser, and it comes with some nifty new features we'll get to in a moment.

The main feature of the iPhone 4S browser is the fact it's simply so fast, and able to handle pretty much any web page in seconds over Wi-Fi or 3G.

iPhone 4s review

We tested the loading time for the TechRadar website compared to the iPhone 4, and found that it was around 3 seconds quicker for the newer device over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections. When loading mobile-formatted sites, it was like there was no delay at all in some cases, with most loading up in under a second.

There's something that the Android browser has always had over the iPhone version in our mind, and that's the ability to resize the text to fit the screen should you want to get closer. That's still the situation now, with only two zoom levels on offer from the iPhone 4S should you want to read an article in a larger font.

However, Apple has done something new here and introduced Reader to the Safari browser. This means once the page has loaded you can hit the Reader tab in the URL bar to see a stark, e-reader-like version of the page, stripping out ads and unnecessary pictures to mean you can quickly and easily read the longer articles you want to.

iPhone 4s review

If you've ever used Instapaper, you'll know what the experience is like... you've got to feel sorry for that service now Apple has developed its own version.

Another way to read the articles you want to is the Reading List function, which is simply a temporary bookmarks list - you can sort them by 'All' or 'Unread' so you know which sites you want to check back with. It's a nice idea, and one that we found ourselves using more than we expected to, keeping a number of articles on the backburner when we didn't have time to scan through.

However, surely it would have made sense to format these automatically using the Reader, or at least have an option to? We found ourselves getting irritated with having to wait for them to reload every time to just reformat them... so maybe this is something Apple can change in the future.

Oh, and let's not forget our favourite refrain for an Apple iPhone review - the lack of Flash video. We've no idea how Apple has managed to survive all of these years without adding in some kind of Flash support, but those little error boxes strewn all over the internet still grate a fair bit.

Sure, they are abating as more sites become more mobile friendly, and HTML5 video support is built into the iOS browser, but that's still a long way from being an oft-used video format for the web, so iPhone 4S users will have to put up with a substandard internet performance compared to their Android counterparts when it comes to web video.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.