iPhone 4S Review - Steve Jobs' Apple Mobile Phone Legacy

Although not perfect, Apple have once again set the benchmark for mobile devices and raised the bar to a height their competitors will struggle to reach.

Steve Jobs became frustrated with Apple's lack of creative input into the Motorola ROKR E1 which they co-designed and which was the first mobile phone to use iTunes, Apple released their first mobile phone on the market. Co-funded by AT&T and with an estimated budget of $150 million, Apple's phone was the first widely available portable phone that featured a fully functioning touch screen, was able to access the internet and allowed users to carry their music collection in their pocket. Described by Jobs as re-inventing the phone, Apple sold 1 million units within 2 months of release despite users complaining of lack of signal, reliability issues and inability to view websites created using Flash technology, regular complaints that still remains today. On March 6th 2008, Apple released a software development kit that enabled third party developers to design and sell applications for its mobile device beginning with its 2.0 software update and on June of the same year, Apple announced their latest phone, the iPhone 3G. The 3G came with various updated specs including GPS, 3G connectivity as well as the ability to connect to the App Store. By October 4th 2011, users have downloaded over 18 billion apps giving Apple a 59% market share. Almost 1 year after releasing the iPhone 3 and after seeing its sales drop significantly due to its competitors releasing phones with greater specifications, Apple released its latest incarnation - the iPhone 3GS ( the 's' standing for speed). The 3GS featured an improved camera, (although still only 3 megapixel), support for video recording and a faster processor. Increased battery life and an improved colour rich screen were features that many reviewers applauded but most slated that Apple were falling behind their competitors on both performance as well as hardware. On April 3rd, 2010 Apple unveiled the iPad to worldwide acclaim. Like the iPhone, the iPad utilises finger touch technology and was initially designed to fill the gap between the mobile phone and personal computer although the original version was designed before the iphone but shelved as Jobs decided that most of the features could be intergrated and optimised for use in a mobile phone. Early reviews for the iPad were favourable although again the lack of Flash support was again widely criticized as was the lack of a camera and the inability to upgrade the internal memory. However, by the release of the iPad 2, Apple have sold more than 15 million units of the original ipad, more than all other tablet computers combined. By June 24th and with sales again falling, Apple released their latest phone, the iPhone 4. Along with the new phone, Apple released the latest version of its operating system which along with the phone's front and rear facing cameras brought Face Time. At the launch of the phone, Steve Jobs stated that Face Time would revolutionise mobile phone technology and change the way people used their phones to make calls. The iPhone 4's design changed dramatically from their previous ones, with curves being replaced by straight edges and plastic replaced with glass. Almost immediately, users reported signal faults and dropped calls, reportedly due to the fact that the antenna which formed part of the case design became obstructed when the phone was held in a certain way. Apple responded in a statement by initially telling consumers to avoid holding the phone by the bottom left corner and then under increasing pressure by offering every iPhone owner a free bumper which would eliminate the problem. The iPhone 4 was powered by the A4 chip which Apple claimed made it the fastest, most powerful mobile phone on the market. Less than a year after releasing the iPad, Apple released the iPad 2. Most notable improvements included a more powerful A5 processor, 33% slimmer design as well as front and rear facing cameras, enabling Ipad users the ability to utilise Face Time as well. Apple hope to have sold more than 35 million iPad 2's by the end of 2011. On August 24th after battling cancer for more than 7 years, Steve Jobs stood down as CEO of Apple and took a seat on the board of directors. Although many people expected Jobs to make an appearance at Apple's Let's Talk event to introduce their next phone, his failing health made it impossible for him to attend and instead Tim Cook took centre stage, introducing the iPhone 4S. Despite many being left dissapointed at the lack of a brand new phone, Apple introduced an upgraded model which featured the same A5 chip as the iPad 2, an upgraded 8 megapixel camera capable of shooting full hd video and Siri, a voice controlled 'personal assistant'. Although the iPhone 4S at first glance looks and feels the same as its predecessor, once switched on it is immediately evident that Apple have completely redesigned the original phone. Apps launch at lightening speed, web pages load in an instant and the battery seems to last much longer. IOS 5 brings along with it over 200 improvements to IOS 4 and although most are small upgrades, such as the ability to launch the camera from the lockscreen, others have been rewritten entirely. One of the main improvements is the notification centre which incorporates emails, messages and app notifications into one place. By changing the settings, users can decide how they receive notifications and can launch them from inside the centre instead of being constantly interupted when playing games, making calls, etc. The main selling point of the iPhone 5 is its voice recognition assistant ' Siri '. Although still classed as being in beta, Siri performs many actions seemlessly, it is able to play music, set reminders, read emails and answer complex questions without feeling unnatural to use. Siri adapts over time and gradually becomes faster and more responsive although it can feel strange at first controlling the phone by speech alone. Playing graphic intensive games on the Iphone could be at times frustrating but the 4S shows massive improvements. Although limited to games allready available to both devices, the improvements are immediately clear to see. Games run smoother, lag is unnoticable and there is no drop in frame rate. Developers are currently creating iPhone 4S exclusive titles which Apple are confident will elevate it to being more than just a mobile that plays games and instead as a stand alone gaming device. Although not perfect, Apple have once again set the benchmark for mobile devices and raised the bar and if as expected, the iPhone 5 is already in production, it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.

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