Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
10/4/2011
02:52 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features

Apple boosted the internal specs to create the iPhone 4S, but failed to add some of the most sought-after changes.

As perhaps some feared, the iPhone 4S announced by Apple on Tuesday is but an incremental update to the iPhone 4. It comes packaged in the same hardware, albeit with some vastly improved innards. While Apple added a number of great new features--including the Siri personal assistant--it managed to leave out a lot. Here's what's missing.

1. A Bigger Display: Apple disappointed people the instant it introduced the iPhone 4S during its press conference by mentioning that it carries forward the same hardware design as the iPhone 4. Why does that matter? It means Apple didn't change anything about the iPhone's display, which is small compared to most of today's Android smartphones.

The iPhone 4S will have the same 3.5-inch 960 x 540 Retina display as found on the 2010-era iPhone 4. Just today, LG (LG, for cripes sakes!!!) announced an Android handset that has a 4.5-inch 1280 x 720p HD display. Bad form, Apple. iPhone fanatics wanted a bigger display.

While the iPhone 4S's Retina Display will no doubt continue to be impressive in its appearance, Apple could have boosted it to 3.7- or 4.0-inches and kept the pixel count high enough.

2. No 4G: The iPhone 4S does not introduce HSPA+ at 4G speeds, LTE, or WiMax. In fact, its HSPA+ radio isn't nearly as fast as many had hoped. Rather than go for the gusto and support AT&T's fastest HSPA+ network, it supports a middle-of-the-road HSPA+ network at 14.4 Mbps on the downlink. Sure that's twice as fast as the iPhone 4, but with a huge percentage of Android smartphones already packing HSPA+ at 21 Mbps and 42 Mbps, or WiMax or LTE, 14.4 Mbps in the iPhone simply isn't going to cut it.

While it is great that the new iPhone 4S is a world phone and will work on the networks run by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless, the poor CDMA 3G customers over at Sprint and Verizon will be stuck with a device that's even pokier than AT&T's.

3. No Brand New Design: If the carried-over screen isn't bad enough, the iPhone 4S still packs front and back glass surfaces. This means it will be as apt as ever to break when dropped. The glass back plate, in particular, has plagued unfortunate customers with cracks and shatters. Apple didn't make mention of any improvements to the glass surfaces to toughen them up. A metal design would be stronger. It also would be nice to have some hardware that's thinner and looks nicer.

4. Standards-Based Technologies: Apple continues to shun industry standards in favor of its own. For example, the International Telecommunications Union has decreed that all cellular telephones use the microUSB port for charging and data transfer.

The iPhone 4S, likes its predecessors, uses a proprietary Apple-made connector for attaching it to computers, chargers, and other peripherals. This means people are beholden to purchase cables from Apple and its partners rather than use any old cable. Apple also didn't add an HDMI port for easier sharing with HDTVs. Instead, it wants you to spend $100 on the Apple TV and stream the content wirelessly.

5. NFC: Totally absent from the iPhone 4S is any way to make mobile tap-and-go payments. It doesn't support NFC (near-field communications), which means it won't enable customers to make mobile payments at retail stores on the go. Meanwhile, Google, Sprint, Visa, MasterCard, RIM, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and myriad others are in the middle of packaging together vast NFC-based mobile payment tech. When it comes to mobile payments, Apple is clearly allowing other companies to lead the way.

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Shrk
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Shrk,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/25/2011 | 3:59:42 AM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
1. I like the smaller phone I can keep in my pocket. If I want a tablet PC I'll buy one.
2. Sucks that it has no 4G.
3. Like the design. Put a case on it if you're clumsy.
4. Glad they kept connector, everything uses it stereos, alarm clocks, cars. All still compatible.
5. NFC? I don't want it. Phones are getting hacked for pictures and you want credit cards run on them?
What it lacks is...
1. Easier Blu-tooth access
2. Replaceable battery
3. Ability to send sounds & music, even 30 sec clips would be enough.
4. FLASH
5. 4G, this one I agree with.
Lukehb
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Lukehb,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/14/2011 | 12:28:03 AM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
Re: Standards-Based Technologies.

Who really cares? Does it really affect anything?

You have a choice.

Use micro USB and be able to use your HTC charger and Data Cable and destroy the whole iPod/iPhone eco-system, or make do with a proprietary connector.

The benefits of keeping the dock connector FAR outweigh the negatives, when you consider the where number of iPhone and iPod accessories which already include dock connectors. I, for one, would have been very annoyed if apple made me re-buy all of my stereo equipment, accessories and yes, even CAR, because they removed the dock connector.

Also, apple do not force you to spend $100 on an Apple TV. The Apple Digital AV Adapter (a device which, by the way, relies on the dock connector) allows you to connect a standard HDMI cable to your iPhone for video out. There are dozens of cheaper compatible versions also available, and the beauty of the dock connector is that if your TV/projector/whatever doesn't include a HDMI input, there are several other cable options available, such as Composite, Component, VGA, or even S-Video if you happen to own an older iPod dock with S-Video out!

I think standards are good, but not if they make the device worse, and switching to fixed micro-usb and HDMI ports would certainly make the iPhone worse.
MorganNY
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MorganNY,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/13/2011 | 7:42:36 PM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
The only feature the phone lacks for me is an easy way to turn bluetooth on and off. My desire would be to see the ring/vibrate switch become configurable so I could use it for that. Having to open the phone, navigating to settings>general>bluetooth and then get that slide button to turn on, the difficulty of which seems directly proportional to how pressed one is for time, can be a real drag.
One issue that remains unsolved is that of one's face hitting buttons while on a call. I would either mute the call (the other party hangs up suspecting the call dropped), or enable the keypad and start sending tones. Iphone users learn to hold the phone so just the earpiece is against their ear. Preliminary pics of the iPhone 5 show that, in everyone's zeal to see a greater screen:outline ratio, that the earpiece area is even smaller. With more screen for your ear/face to hit, I expect this problem to get worse.
NFC in phones or keyfobs, like Mobil Speedpass, seems as insane to me now as it always did. People are already wrapping their wallets in foil against the cloning of NFC/RFID credit cards. A phone is NOT a wallet. People leave phones laying around. Many government buildings, courts, etc., make you check your phone. If someone is having trouble and asks to use my phone, I don't want to wonder if I'm placing access to my bank account in a stranger's hands. And if waving your phone to pay for something involves unlocking it, going to some wallet app, entering in a password or AppleID to authorize the transaction, HOW is that easier or more convenient than paying by debit/credit card? Why anyone would want to use their cell carrier as a clearing house for financial transactions is WAY beyond me. Cell carriers can't get their own billing correct 100% of the time. I'm supposed to trust them with my cash transactions?? I get banged with enough fees from my actual bank, which at least is accountable and FDIC insured. How simple will it be for one to port their number/service to another carrier when their old carrier was also their bank?? And will that 'bank' take the $375 ETF directly from your account?!?!?
CDUDEE000
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CDUDEE000,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 6:56:07 AM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S have a display resolution of 960x640, not 960x540.
ANON1241471931665
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ANON1241471931665,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/5/2011 | 8:31:22 PM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
Producing a single world phone will simplify Apple's inventory management so much that they will make a ton more money. The stock will recover once their vastly increased profit margins and sales figures show up. Tim Cook is a supply chain genius and this product will prove his leadership on the bottom line spreadsheet even if the features aren't exciting the doors off the tech community. The features are "good enough" to maintain parity with the lack of competition and the supply chain simplification are a dramatic win for Apple.
ANON1237925156805
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ANON1237925156805,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/5/2011 | 7:02:40 PM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
I'm with a couple of others here. iPhone 5 is in the works. It will have many of these missing features and some other things that we can't foresee yet. I believe that Apple couldn't package it all for 2011 and rather than skip a year, which would have been deadly, they packaged what was ready into the same shell. For those using the 3GS, definitely worth the upgrade. For those using the iPhone 4, may be best to wait a few months. . .
DavidMichael
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DavidMichael,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2011 | 10:11:44 PM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
Doesn't this all point to an iPhone 5 coming out soon to address these short comings?
Pike1993
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Pike1993,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2011 | 9:39:35 PM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
IMHO this is going to be the scaled down cheaper version of the new I phone. I would not be surprised to hear a buzz in the coming weeks about the Iphone 5 model with more bells and whistles...
$10163224
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$10163224,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2011 | 9:38:00 PM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
I'm not a big apple fan but I am a big tech fan and I do respect their company. What I see here is internally a new phone but the exterior the same. the average customer doesn't care about the internals, I wonder how well this phone will sell.
imekka
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imekka,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/4/2011 | 9:20:01 PM
re: iPhone 4S: 5 Missing Features
Apple no longer cares about being the best.

iPhone 4 is now $99, the 3GS is free, they cover the whole low end now. They're going after middle-low end brand minded shoppers. iPhone 4S is only meant to get diehard fans to upgrade to something, 1 or 2 new features is better than nothing.
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