Straight up: I'm a little disappointed with the new iPhone 4S. I was hoping for more. My expectations were higher. I wanted something extra special, largely because I've been waiting for it for So. Very. Long.
What was I hoping for that I didn't get? A new form factor, for starters. Design matters. And Apple has always been a design-oriented company. When it pushed back the iPhone 4S rollout to the Fall, it just increased expectations that there might be a great new look coming along. Instead, it's essentially identical to last year's model.
I was hoping for something bold and interesting looking. The iPhone 4 was just that when it shipped. So too were the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G. If I'm going to buy a new phone, of course I want it to look new. Because of course we care about novel designs. If we didn't we'd all be lugging around some 10-inch thick Saved By The Bell-style brick with a 12 day battery life.
But we do care about design. We do want things that look new and different and notable. Yet if you buy the iPhone 4S, you're committing to an old design for two more years (unless you pay a premium to upgrade early). Because Apple didn't upgrade the phone's design, that means that by the time you're off-contract, your phone's design will be three and a half years old. That's a lifetime in gadget years. Consider that the original iPhone itself only began shipping a little over four years ago
And then there's the network issue. I also was hoping against reason that it would support LTE. I know, I know. I'm well-versed in Apple's history and understand why it wouldn't want to roll out an LTE phone when most people couldn't take advantage of it, thus making a case against its expense and performance hits. But if I'm going to hang onto this phone for another two years, I'd like it to be 4G.
It's already been more than two years since I last got a new iPhone. I held off on the iPhone 4 because I wanted to get out from under my AT&T contract. By the time the hoary old iPhone 4 (like my grandpa used to have!) finally did come to Verizon, I wasn't going to get it.
And so I waited for the iPhone 5. And waited. And waited. And instead I got the iPhone 4S. Wait, what‽
Look, there's a lot of cool new stuff in the iPhone 4S. That 8MP camera is going to make my otherwise boring mealtime shots of future poo look fantastic. As a new parent, I'm super excited for the faster shutter speeds that move at the speed of children. That 1080p video appeals to me like boobs to a teenage boy. I'm psyched for the CDMA and GSM antennas because I do travel. And I'm also sold on the A5 processor.
But it isn't what I was hoping for.
Siri? That looks like the most amazing thing I'll never use. Like Facetime, which sits in the sad panda corner of my iPad 2 hoping one day that I'll touch it. Reminders are great, especially with the geofencing. But I've been able to set location-specific reminders with Android phones since the G1 way back in '08. Yeah, iCloud seems relatively cool, but I'm also confident in Apple's ability to fuck up anything related to the Internet. (Apple: Internet apps :: Google : Social apps).
And besides. That's all software. Sure, it may be hardware-dependent software, but it's still software. I have a hard time getting crazy excited about software.
Make no mistake, Apple is going to sell a gazillion of these. Hell, I'm going to buy one. No question. But I'm going to do so reluctantly. For the first time in recent memory, I'm walking away from an Apple hardware rollout unexcited and uninspired. And while I guess the iPhone 4S' day has arrived, I'm already looking forward to tomorrow.