Lifehacker Vs Gizmodo: Is It Worth Upgrading To The iPhone 4S?

Lifehacker Vs Gizmodo: Is It Worth Upgrading To The iPhone 4S?

So the iPhone 4S has been announced, and the big question is: is it worth upgrading if you’re already an iPhone owner? Gizmodo’s editor Alex Kidman is an Apple enthusiast; Lifehacker’s editor Angus Kidman less so. But when it comes to this upgrade, they’re surprisingly in agreement on the main points.

Lifehacker: Alex, you’re a long-term iPhone user. Leaving aside your professional need to play with the latest hardware, would you be tempted to upgrade to the iPhone 4S?

Gizmodo: It’s an interesting question, although it should be noted that we’re something of an odd couple to discuss it; it seems unlikely you’d ever use an iPhone, and my day to day phone is a Samsung Galaxy S II right now. But then, I never moved up to the iPhone 4 from the 3GS; my 3GS is now my wife’s phone, and I’ve been pondering for a while whether it’d be worth jumping back to iOS when the next phone came out. There is some stuff to like in that arrangement; clearly there’s less to be wowed about if you’re already an iPhone 4 user.

LH: Yes, that’s the nub of it. If you’re one of the many, many people I know who were on a two-year contract for the 3GS and were waiting for that to run out before jumping on the upgrade bandwagon, then there’s no particular reason not to move to the 4S. But if you’re only halfway through a two-year contract, it hardly seems worth paying it out purely to get access to an improved camera and the ability to issue commands in an American accent to your phone. (Yes, I know the claim is that it’s Australian “voice ready” but the same claim was made about Android; I’ll believe it when I see it.)

To be fair, the other big hardware change is the switch to some kind of multiple antenna/frequency approach. I didn’t watch the whole launch presentation; what’s your take on that aspect for upgraders?

G: What, you need sleep, or something? That’s what coffee abuse is for. That aside, the ‘world phone’ aspect of the iPhone 4S is arguably of minimal impact for most Australian users, unless you do a lot of travelling and plan to do a lot of swapping out of MicroSIMs. There simply isn’t a CDMA network in Australia for users to hook into, and frankly if you are someone who’s going to need that CDMA access (predominantly those who travel to the US a lot and for some reason want to use the CDMA networks there), I’d say (without access to the carrier pricing, which we’ll presumably get in fairly short order) that buying outright would be your better bet anyway; less stuffing around with either roaming or unlocking issues.

The outright pricing is pretty much in line with what Apple’s charged for iPhones in the past; I paid slightly more outright for a 3GS some years ago. My accountant still weeps openly about that.


Voice commands? I’ve got to be honest here; I don’t want to shout at my phone (any phone — be it Android, Windows Phone, whatever) in a public place per se, and I always tend to file voice commands in the same slot as handwriting recognition, simply because it so rarely works.

The other big hardware shift is the camera phone and inclusion of HSDPA for faster data access. Those are the hardware features I’d buy an iPhone for — or to keep my accountant happy, go onto a contract for. Perhaps.

I wrote yesterday that the iPhone launch should matter to Android users, and copped a LOT of flak for it. That’s fine (I’ve got a thick skin), but oddly in retrospect, I still reckon that’s right. But for slightly different reasons; Apple has brought itself up to speed with its competition, and that opens up a window of opportunity for the next big thing, if Android, Blackberry or Windows Mobile can pull it off. Do you reckon iPhone users (leaving the fanatics aside) might shift platforms?

LH: I’ll note in passing that a footnote on the Apple site says that “CDMA only available if iPhone 4S is sold and activated for use on a CDMA network”, so I’m not sure that option will work well even for the world traveller scenario.

I have encountered quite a few people this year who switched from iPhone 3GS to Android because they couldn’t see sufficient difference with the iPhone 4, and I guess that thinking will persist for some of them. One thing Apple hasn’t done is make any serious push towards the price-conscious end of the market ($449 for a 3GS is still too much for a lot of people), which is one area where Android has made some major inroads. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the uptake for 4S isn’t quite as broad as we’ve seen in the past. But don’t get me wrong; this thing is still going to sell bucketloads.

On reflection, it also makes sense for Apple to ease up a little on the “here’s a brand new phone every year” schtick, if only because of the 24-month contract requirement. If the iPhone 5 hits in 2012, a lot of people will jump straight across from their existing iPhone 4 contract. Happy carriers, happy Apple. But it definitely leaves a gap for 3GS owners who came in late and haven’t yet shifted, and that (I guess) is where other manufacturers will take aim.

G: Absolutely. I suspect the survival of the 3GS in the local market has a lot more to do with the ‘free’ status it’s going to enjoy in the US than any desire to sell new 3GS models; it’ll quickly be shuffled to the side in most Apple stores, the same way that the iPod Classic is. It’s feasible, I guess, that one of the low-cost carriers might grab it as a real bargain basement model, but the profit margins would have to be quite slim there.

Clearly there’s a market for the diehard fans who want the latest and greatest, and it’s also worth noting that people are very good at losing and breaking smartphones of every stripe; Apple may do well there. It’s not quite Apple’s fault that the iPhone 4S didn’t live up to the rumour hype — Apple itself never promised an iPhone 5 — and it’s clear that the company is on a softly-softly approach with this particular generation of iPhone. We still don’t know the carrier plan pricing, although it’s a fair guess it won’t change much to speak of, given Apple’s outright pricing. That’ll shift opinions one way or another — my own included.


  • I’m moderately excited, mainly because I’m one of those whose 2 year contract on the 3GS runs out soon (within 4 days of launch, conveniently).

    Still, given the extra time from June until now, and this being Tim Cook’s first launch, I would’ve thought there’d be a lot more “wow”. Being interested, but not a fanboy (I only have the iPhone), I’m not blown away, and I like to think that it’s people like me they have to convince.

    Sure, I’ll upgrade my phone because it’s due, but it’s not selling me on the Apple lifestyle. In which case, what good are services like iCloud and Match? If iPhone is the hook to bring people into the fold, then they haven’t landed this one.

  • If I had a 3G/3GS with contract about to expire I would upgrade to the 4S

    However if you’ve got a iPhone 4 theres no real need to upgrade to the 4S. Sure it’s ALOT faster and has a better camera and siri which most people will try once and never again but definetly not worth my money since it does exactly the same thing.

  • Eh, nowadays? There aren’t many features that any phones lack really. It’s more whether or not you are comfortable with your OS and are the apps performing fast enough on your handset.

    Siri is theoretically nice, but I can’t see if being any real use unless you spend a lot of time in the car, or you don’t need to unlock the phone and could just yell at your phone while it sits on the table and make it change tv channels or something.

  • What the? No iPhone 5?

    This completely throws the fanboy balance out of whack.

    How are Apple fanboys supposed to troll us Android fanboys now?

    Nexus Prime is going to smash iPhone 4S and now the Apple guys have to wait another year to get their iPhone 5.

    It’s going to be a one way street which is no good for any tech gadget comments section.

    Apple Fail

        • Pfft. You call those trolls? Not much of babies just got baptized. You mustn’t read Slashdot if Gizmodo or Engadget scares you.

          Anyway, why would you bash Apple users online? They can be ignorant as f4ck without real face in front of you. Remember the ‘I don’t care’ youtube?

          Do it in real life.

          Extract that apple-size brain of what’s better of Apple compare to Android. Then slam everything to the ground with Android’s.

          I almost make a person cry because of this.

  • I’m looking forward to all the confusing situations with siri.

    Person 1: “Can you tell me the phone”
    Person 2: “Yes its…”
    Person 1: “Sorry i was talking to my phone”

  • Every time there’s an Apple launch I think to myself: “what CAN they POSSIBLY come up with now???” I thought that yesterday with the prospect of an iPhone 5. What could there possibly be missing from the iPhone 4? It seems that, for once, Apple thought the same thing. So – good on them for not feeling pressure to add tea and coffee making facilities just for the sake of it. And as a 3GS owner (whose battery life is negligible these days) I AM tempted to get a 4S.

    • Oh I don’t know:
      A bigger screen?
      A better GPS solution?
      A new case design?
      ..none of which are “tea and coffee” making facilities, but all of which would improve the phone.

    • Ok I’ll chip in:

      – A lighter thinner phone. Ip4 is a rock
      – A bigger screen, maybe even LED like other phones out there
      – better gps
      – a *true* update to iOS which looks really tired
      – an fm radio
      – freedom to install apps that you really want – take vlc. The apple compatibility with most media types sucks the big one.
      I could go on and on but I think most people have figured the ip4 is a sleight of hand. More money for an outdated device.

      • While I agree with a couple of these (especially a proper gps instead of assisted)

        -not everyone wants a bigger screen, a bigger screen means a wider phone, I personally wouldn’t want a phone wider than the iphone, and I know a lot of other people would agree
        -fm radio? is that really necessary? if you really want radio you’ve got internet radio, how many people really want an fm radio? you have an iphone, just play your own music, itll just be pointless
        -I like some restrictions when it comes to apps so stability of os can be controlled, especially after having jail broken a phone before how slow everything can become, but yeah vlc being removed is bs

        I’m not a fanboy, im actually planning to move from iphone to wp7.

        what im sick of
        -updated features in ios not appearing in older phones (when i mean older I mean 1 gen back, where many people are still on contract) its so damn stupid, its an attempt to get people to upgrade, it has led me to change os
        -home button failing (weve had 3 iphones, all home buttons start to become less responsive after about a year or so, out of warranty, lucky our ip4 had extended warranty

        -out dated os, its the same old when the iphone first came out, it was good for the first 2 years I used it but now it h=just feels out-dated
        -apps, yeah there are heaps but there are mostly crap, and the more and more crap the harder it is to find the good apps, they need some quality control when it comes to apps where there is 100s of them, or ones that do anything worthwhile

        things ill miss
        -32gb inbuilt memory – i dont want expandable memory as that just makes interface dealing with files more difficult and impacts on performance due to all the different speeds of cards.
        -easy syncing, easy to sync music and to backup, unlike when i used someones android and had to look up how to get music on ect, hopefully itll be different for wp7
        -the easy replacement if it breaks under warranty, just go to the store and they tend to replace it
        -not having to explain to people how to use it, as everyone in aus must of used ios at one point, being so popular here.
        -the ability to use ipod docks, as theyre so common in speakers these days, i know you can plug it in another way buts its not the same as docking

  • Siri alone is the reason that I will update to the 4S.

    Imagine talking to your phone and having it keep a note for you while walking down the street.

    Imagine telling your phone to set a time for 30 minutes.

    Imagine telling your phone to wake you up the next day at 7.00 am.

    Imagine telling your phone to remind you to get milk on the way home.

  • What’s the big advantage of the Apple Iphone over Android? iTunes.

    How to solve it? DoubleTwist, free on pc and android market. syncs itunes music/video/pictures and podcasts straight to you Android.


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