I think the the fact that they fixed the HW/RF sensitivity bugs is a real plus, I refused to upgrade to the 4 for that reason. Also having better battery life is good. Voice control is a grand idea, I hope it works as well as suggested. What I have to say, is that although Apple has some (to me) serious shortcomings in the SW arena on iPhone, after having a Nokia smart phone (pre touch screen) for 2 years and being frustrated by SW crashes the 3GS was a welcome change. Also since I changed providers calls no longer drop out. My daughter purchased a Samsung Galaxy and was forever complaining about it freezing, and recently changed to a 4 and said it's much better. So, given that the primary use of a phone is to make phone calls, I know I would find freezing worse than my other gripes, so maybe that is the gap that Samsung and others must close?
I agree with the posters who look towards a balance of software versus hardware advances in judging progress. I purchased the Nexus S when it came out knowing that there were a couple of choices at the time with a few more megapixels etc. But... Nexus S gets the android platform updates instantly with no provider fuss/delay.
Google is all about back-end smart service integration. I can say that I have been using the Nexus OS version from day one which effectively does everything Siri beta claims. I rarely use the keyboard since I got it. Nexus has a dedicated search (voice aware) button which follows commands and the dictation is excellent and works for all apps.
Siri is more free form language wise but does it work this way outside the English language? Google looks at the big picture... the Android voice is tied in with the many years of training Google's translation services. Two way calls with Google translating on the fly is where they are heading... I don't see how Apple will compete long term.
I would agree basically with 'garydpdx'. The next iPhone needs to take advantage of all the LTE networks have to offer, so it can wait awhile. The 4S model is a chance to really clean up any SW/HW issues in prep for what is to follow.
It appears that there has not been any major industrial design updates to Apple's products for a while. The iPhone 4S, MBP, MBA to name a few have retained the same design. Does Apple have a problem signing off new designs without Jobs or has J Ives flown the coop?
I totally agree. Sometimes Apple leads in hardware. Sometimes not. Always, they hang their hat on the UI. The iPod wasn't the first, biggest, cheapest or fastest Mp3 player. It was their UI that revolutionized the Mp3 world. Same with the iPhone.
There are other phones with more features, longer battery life, etc. But none have that UI - what makes Apple Apple.
And for those few who don't think 4G matters, I claim it does for two reasons.
First is simple: you're going to be near 4G soon. The iPhone 4S is released in a few weeks, and it'll presumably sell for a year. That means buyers of this device will be ending their typical US 2-year contracts in 2014. Even if I paid cash, I'm not plunking down $600 or whatever artificially inflated price I'd pay for a smartphone every year. Verizon is claiming they'll finish their LTE rollout -- every cell -- sometime in 2013.
Second reason is simple: EvDO. There's certainly some breathing room in HSPA+, if you can get it. So AT&T users at least have a chance at a speed up in the iPhone 4S, though AT&T has finished their HSPA+ rollout... if you can't get it today, you probably never will. They're spending on LTE now. Verizon and Sprint, meanwhile, may get the iPhone 4S, but it's still coming in at EvDO speeds.. that the maximum 3.1Mb/s down that's usually more like 600-900kb/s down. If you've been in the same room as an LTE or WiMax phone surfin' on your OG Droid (hint: that's me), you do not want to lock into that for another two years.
Apple's still the only luxury brand in the mobile device business. They're going to keep doing fine. Curious to Apple isn't only the high profit margins, but the simply fact they haven't always been judged harshly on hardware tech.
Look at the Mac... for years, heck, for decades, it was behind in performance. Yet, considering a leading and innovative platform. Today, it's a bog standard PClone, and yet, also seen by the masses as a leading and innovative platform. The first two iPhones didn't support 3G of any kind; they didn't have full HSPA until the iPhone 4, etc. But that just didn't matter.
So the iPhone 4S is an also-ran in the smartphone race for 2011... but that's not going to matter a great deal to folks upgrading from the 3GS. Or even the iPhone 4... if anything, maybe they get a few less crazies jumping contract for the 4S, as they'll figure on something superior next year.
This isn't the end of actual Apple dominance, since Apple doesn't dominate. Ok, sure, they're the most popular single brand of smartphone. Samsung is a few million behind in a typical quarter... but give it a few more quarters. Meanwhile, Android is outselling iOS 2:1. And while you can point to Android phones hitting the low-end as well as the high-end, isn't that just what Apple's still doing? The iPhone 3GS is not free, the iPhone 4 at $100... same range of pricing across the board for Android. And unless Apple's changed chip suppliers, tons of business for Samsung, still.
What this ends, I think, is the total adoration of Apple in the tech press. Apple's not leading in hardware, not leading in software... maybe still leading in profits. We'll see how next week's Nexus Prime and Android 4.0 announcements go, compared to this week's iPhone/iOS stuff.
iPHONE HAS JUMPED THE SHARK.
Everyone in my family was waiting for an iPhone that runs 4G on Verizon. Looks like they blew it here, because we aren't waiting another year or even 6 months. Don't care that 4G isn't everywhere -- it's everywhere we are, and frankly the web on 3G is worthless. Based on my family, I'm seeing a 100% defection to Android. They don't get another chance at the five of us for 2 years, now.
This isn't without precedent. Apple got cocky back in the Apple/// days and saw their market share of personal computers go to 3%. Took them a decade and a wholesale change of processor architecture to recover. That's what got Jobs fired the first time, and looks like history is repeating itself -- Apple, no Jobs, marketshare tanks. Play that out to the logical conclusion, I guess that implies iPhone 7 runs on an Intel Atom.
One word of advice, Apple: if you are going to shoot yourself in the foot a second time, aim for the same hole and it won't hurt as much. :)
And Siri is what distinguishes the UI from Apple-wanabees. If it works as described, consumers will have to "wow" this 4S, as they would any step-function change in THEIR experience. Pundits should give consumers the chance to make up their own mind. But then they would not be pundits, would they?