iPhone 4S underwhelms despite better video capabilities

Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 05-10-2011

Much to the disappointment of millions, instead of the expected iPhone 5, Apple is releasing the iPhone 4S, which is more of an update than a refresh.
While this week's announcement of the next-generation iPhone managed to under-deliver on the hype in many ways, the video capabilities of the device have been given a boost. The new version offers a faster dual-core processor to help improve battery life, plus it supports 1080p HD video recording and carries an 8MP camera.
Meanwhile, improvements in the service layer offer iCloud integration for the remote backup of purchased and created content like home videos, double-tap use of the home button to activate the camera and something called iTunes Match to scan and match a user’s library for $24 a year in the United States. It also has better social networking integration for sharing multimedia.
"In actuality, Apple revealed a warmed up version of last year’s iPhone following 15 months without any hardware upgrade," said David McQueen, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media on the iPhone 4S. "The iPhone 4S looks the same, with similar industrial design, screen size and user interface but just with a little better innards."
He did acknowledge that "voice recognition has the capability to be a key differentiator as its tight integration with the hardware and ability to work organically should offer market-leading performance," he noted.
Still, it may not all be enough to seduce users into upgrading, nor to woo the undecided to the phone at all. The market, McQueen said, "has been let down somewhat by having almost no change in the user experience and in the industrial design. Unfortunately for Apple, this is happening at a time when competitors are aggressively bringing new products to market with superior user experience in the form of wider and better screen, intuitive UIs, and more integrated apps."
Malik Saadi, another principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, didn't put too fine a point on it: “In light of all these super-smartphones coming to market from the likes of HTC and Samsung, the iPhone is no longer a champion in terms of user experience.”
Apple is hedging its bets: in addition to expanding iPhone distribution for the iPhone 4S to Sprint, it is also offering the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 models on AT&T and Verizon for reduced upgrade fees: free and $99 respectively with a two-year contract.