The Apple iPhone 4S won't be available until Oct. 14, but PCMag got some hands-on time with it shortly after it was announced Tuesday. Cosmetically, the iPhone 4S looks exactly like last year's iPhone 4, but as Tim Cook boasted, "Inside it is all new."
Apple's new smartphone has a dual-core A5 CPU, an 8-megapixel still camera, a 1080p video camera, and of course, iOS 5. What does all this mean to the average user? We will have to get it into PC Labs before we issue a judgment, but in the short time I spent with the iPhone 4S, it seems like an improved version of an already very solid smartphone.
Hold the iPhone 4S in your hand and it is impossible to tell it apart from the iPhone 4. Apple would not let me shoot still photos or video of the device, so you'll have to take my word on this. I asked five different Apple representatives and none of them could point out a single difference between the phones. That isn't a bad thing; I rather like the iPhone 4's industrial, almost steampunk design.
I point it out only to explain that if you want to show off the fact you have an iPhone 4S, you'll have to do it verbally or keep the phone the box it came in. The models are identical, at least on the outside.
In my short time with the iPhone 4S, I tried to tax the new A5 CPU, the same processor that is used in the iPad 2 tablet. The stunning Infinity Blade 2 game that was shown in the demonstration wasn't loaded on my unit, but it did have Real Racing 2. The game was fluid and had richly detailed backgrounds, but to be honest, there is only so much detail you can fit on a 3.5-inch screen. I'd really like to see what it looks like when you use AirPlay to stream the game on a WiFi-connected HDTV. Then we'll see what the iPhone 4S can really do. Even so, it is more than a match for the average Android phone and should continue to give Sony and Nintendo nightmares.