October 14, 2011

Bonus: iPhone 4s review: time to ditch your point and shoot?

3:30am. Sitting in line for iPhone 4s (taken with iPhone 4)

We are the odd, the excitable and (hopefully) the lessons for all of you.

We are the early adopters, the fools who lined up in the rain at 3:30 this morning to buy a phone that looks a whole lot like the one that’s already in our pocket. Yep, I bought an iPhone 4s this morning – just like I did with the iPhones 4/3GS and 3G before it.

Was it worth dragging myself out of the bed when it was still virtually last night? Short answer: yep. Longer answer below.

Yes: It’s way faster
I had time to make a sandwich in the seconds it took the iPhone 4 to get its camera up and running. My nine-month-old even figured it out – her smile wilting while she waited  (and waited) for the shutter to click. The 4s shoots lickity split – even challenging the point-and-shoots around here for speed to photos.

Yes: It looks good in shabby light
There’s new lens elements and a few other pieces of Apple hardware that make this camera much better in low light. Take a look at the Stormtrooper there – the iPhone 4s picks up the detail of the background better than the 4 does.

iPhone 4s - The colour is actually correct in this shot and you can see more light over the toy's left shoulder. That's good.

A little more grain at the lower light. Also seems like the camera automatically changed settings to whiten up the toy.

Kinda: It has new settings
The software gets into the action on the new camera in a few ways – you can edit pictures right in the app (you could already do this in Camera+ and others that still do a great job). Better than that is that you can get to the camera button from the home screen. Just double click the home button and it appears right there on the bottom. Even better? You can fire your shutter with the “+” volume up button on the camera (and with the volume up button on the headphones). Best of all – you don’t need an iPhone 4s to get the features. If you’re running iOS5, you’ve got those features built in.

No: It has more megapixels

Shots are crisper and more detailed on iPhone 4s.
8 megapixels – meh. More megapixels doesn’t really mean much (unless you’re going to print giant pics). Better to check low light performance and how fast you can grab that photo (both big thumbs up). There’s also face detection, which don’t really feel about one way or the other. The flash is what you expect from an on board camera flash – it’s awful.

All in all, Apple has done an extraordinary job with the camera on this phone. I’m going to play around with it for a few weeks and see if it really does hold up as a point-and-shoot – then I’ll weigh in again.

In the meantime, I’m sure there’s a line I shouldn’t be standing in. 

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