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Review: iPhone 4S worthy of its heritage

OK, we know the negatives. For the first time since the iPhone appeared on the scene four years ago, a new model didn't arrive in June this year. What happened next was entirely predictable: the iPhone 5 rumor mill kicked into overdrive so the underwhelming reaction greeting the announcement of the iPhone 4S was inevitable.

But was it justified?

Some critics grumbled that they didn't get more, and but this is hardly the first time that Apple has chosen to make a subtle upgrade. Remember the iPhone 3GS?

As CNET's Kent German points out in one of the first full hands-on reviews of Apple's new iPhone, the 4S includes myriad improvements to "an already excellent device."

iPhone owners finally get a 64GB model and a better camera, the dual-core processor delivers more speed, and Siri, the iPhone 4S' personal assistant/robot friend/gofer, adds a new and sassy experience. iOS 5 also trots out changes big and small, and we're glad to see Sprint join the Apple family with a true world phone. So while the iPhone 4S isn't the Jesus phone, it's quite enough for plenty of other people-- more than a million, actually.

Not everything impressed me. I'd prefer a slightly larger screen and my list of iPhones misses remains hefty. Performance on the Sprint model is admirable so far, though I'm planning more real-world use and side-by-side comparisons between the three carriers in the next few days. Remember that there will be a discernible difference between the 4S versions (just like we found with the AT&T and Verizon iPhone 4S) so it's important to choose your carrier wisely.

In the end, the decision to buy an iPhone 4S will depend on your current carrier contract. If you aren't eligible for an upgrade with a rebate, I don't think the new features are worth paying full price (at least $500). But if you can upgrade with a discount, or if you're a Sprint customer waiting to get your hands on the iPhone for the very first time, there is enough here to warrant a switch. Sure, there's the chance that a better "iPhone 5" will come next June, but that's a long time to wait. Besides, in the cell phone world, something better is always around the corner.

Maybe the 4S is not king of cell phones, he notes, but it's nonetheless part of the royal family. Click here to read the full review and find out whether this latest smartphone from Apple may be right for you.
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