For a company praised for such great design, Apple sure seems troubled getting out an iPhone that works right. Death Grip -- and its signal stifling capability -- marred iPhone 4 from Day One. Consumer Reports still won't recommend the handset, even after giving it a high rating. Successor 4S comes along and, uh-oh, suffers from heap, big battery-life problems. The story is everywhere -- even Apple apologist blogs report it. Perhaps the company should invest more resources in functional design than appearance.
Maybe Apple simply is out of its depth. The company has received generous praise for launching a smartphone from scratch and dramatically changing -- arguably pushing ahead -- the entire mobile market with it. Apple deserves kudos for its accomplishment. But the company also is a newcomer to a market where depth-of-engineering is necessary to get products right. The smartphone category is also one where form shouldn't supplant function.
Just like many other iPhone 4S users, I am experiencing poor battery life that has left me running for the charger far more than I would like to. The issues are a black eye on what has been an otherwise stellar experience with Apple's latest smartphone.
Although I never owned the iPhone 4, I am told by those who have used both that there is a definite decrease in battery performance. We should have known, though -- in the slides of the keynote introducing the 4S, astute observers noted the standby time advertised by Apple (200 hours) was a full 100 hours less than its predecessor.
iPhone 4S users on Sprint's network have flooded the carrier's support forums with complaints of slow data speeds, leading some to consider returning the device before Friday to avoid the $350 early termination fee.
Complaints appeared on support forums on October 14, the day the iPhone 4S launched at retail. Tests indicate that in some cases data throughput was as slow as .25Mbps -- only a little faster than a 2400 baud modem. The issue also seems mostly limited to the 4S itself: other Sprint phones tested side-by-side are unaffected although scattered reports of bandwidth issues are appearing elsewhere.
Anyone with even a mild interest in technology knows that the iPhone 4S launched one week ago today. In what has now become a ritualistic media event, the new iPhone launch was covered in scrupulous detail, from pre-launch sales predictions, to pundit reviews, to interviews with Apple fans waiting in line to get their hands on the newest iProduct. Someone even made a website devoted to funny things Apple’s new voice command application, Siri, says. The hype tumbled into this week when people awoke Monday morning to find their RSS feeds ablaze with news that Apple had already sold 4 million iPhone 4Ses. Yesterday, AT&T said it had activated 1M iPhone 4Ses so far. iPhone 4S distribution expanded to 22 more countries -- that's 29 in all -- today. Indeed, it feels like everyone in the world has iPhone on the mind.
Well, maybe not everyone. Actually, not even close to everyone. Most everyone, in fact, did not hear about the new iPhone launch or, if they did, they don’t care. Most of the world’s population has more pressing things to focus on than Siri's pithy answer to the meaning of life. Things like staying fed. Finding shelter. Mitigating the scourge of dire poverty and lack of opportunity for a better life. For many more billions, other recent technologies or innovations matter more than iPhone 4S.
Apple calls iPhone 4S a "worldphone", but the real measure isn't wireless frequency support, but actual availability. The 4S went on sale one week ago in seven countries. Apple added another 22 today and plans 70 countries by end of year. Preorders start today, and phones will be available in stores on October 28.
No global iPhone expansion is more important for Apple than iPhone 4S. On Tuesday, the company offered stunning guidance for calendar fourth quarter: $37 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $9.30. Analyst consensus before Apple issued guidance: $36.63 revenue and $8.98 EPS. Wall Street estimates are now $37.55 billion and $9.45 per share. More typically, Apple has issued conservative guidance with analyst consensus billions ahead, and fourth quarter -- even with holiday sales -- isn't typically one of Apple's strongest. I don't see how the company reaches $37 billion in revenue without bang-up iPhone 3GS (free), iPhone 4 ($99) and iPhone 4S ($199-$399) sales. I'm looking at the numbers for a future post, but for now it looks to me like Apple, and really new CEO Tim Cook, has bet the quarter on iPhone. Distribution will be key to achieving that number.
AT&T's third quarter earnings are out, and the big news is iPhone vs everything else. Either iPhone 4S is a huge success or Android, depending on how the numbers are cut -- and really both. Either way, AT&T's churn rate was just 1.1 percent -- on par with the year-ago-quarter -- and signed subscribers are staying despite all that customer grumbling about dropped calls.
The nation's second-largest carrier sold 4.8 million smartphones during Q3 -- or about two-thirds of all "post-paid" handsets. Now more than half -- 52.6 percent -- of AT&T's 68.6 million post-paid subscribers have smartphones -- that's up from 39.1 percent a year ago.
Just over a month ago, U.S. regional wireless carrier Cellular South changed its name to C Spire wireless in a move to become a more data-centric carrier.
Today, scrappy C Spire Wireless announced it will be getting the iPhone 4S "in the coming weeks" before its larger competitors T-Mobile, MetroPCS, and U.S. Cellular do.
That's right, Apple and its carrier and retail partners sold 4 million iPhones during the launch. My question: How many are still in inventory? For the first Apple product launch I can ever remember, iPhone 4S breezed through the weekend without selling out everywhere. Is that better logistics under CEO Tim Cook's leadership or less-than-expected demand? But, hey, 4 million is no small achievement.
Apple is touting that big four number over three days. That's not right. Apple and its partners started taking preorders on October 7, racking up 1 million sales in the first 24 hours. What? People stopped preordering after the first day? I don't think so. Under the most generous accounting, 3 million iPhone 4Ses sold over the launch weekend and the total 4 million is over 9 days, not three.
Apple's release of the iPhone 4S was largely panned by bloggers and journalists, most of which were looking for a much more dramatic upgrade. The 4S seems to be more of an upgrade aimed at the millions whose iPhone 3GS have become long in the tooth, and for these consumers this phone is a marked improvement.
Like Apple has said, iPhone 4S looks nearly identical on the outside to the iPhone 4, but is a new phone on the inside. From the dual-core processor to the better camera, and the innovative digital assistant in Siri, moving from the 3GS to the 4S is like night and day.
I missed out on the big iPhone 4S launch here in San Diego, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise -- as the anachronism goes. There was chaos this morning in BetaNews manor, so I ground my teeth, cursed often and kept my fingers pounding the Lenovo ThinkPad T420s keyboard. I wouldn't have gone to buy iPhone 4S but to take photos before the store doors opened at 8 a.m. My sixth sense sniffed opportunity -- that the line outside Apple Store Fashion Valley would be nowhere near as big for iPhone 4S as it was for v4. I was right. It wasn't, I later learned. Grumble, grumble.
My daughter texted soon after going to school. She needed me to sign some papers for taking tests and to cough up payment for exorbitant fees. She needed everything during lunch, and "It'd be amazing if you could bring some food too!!!" Parenthood. I needed a break, so we met and squared everything away. Then I got to thinking about Apple Store. It was only a few miles away. Why not pop over there and see how the line looked and if iPhone 4S had sold out.
We planned here at Betanews to give you a good first impressions review of the iPhone 4S, but to tell you the truth just getting the phone to work has been one of the worst experiences setting up an electronics device I can remember. You saw our photos of the unboxing? Well, that was the highlight. Seriously!
To better grasp what the average person might experience, we followed the instructions as they were given. No shortcuts, nothing. I'm also new to this online activation thing, so that may have been smart on my part to follow the directions I'm being given. Apparently, that may have been the first mistake.
The day has finally arrived: Apple's iPhone 4S appeared on my doorstep this morning. After having the iPhone 3GS for two years, it certainly was past the time to make the jump to a much better phone. Indeed the 4S is that phone, including a dual-core processor, 8-megapixel camera, and Siri, Apple's new personal assistant.
While I had initially planned to hold off upgrading until the iPhone 5, after Apple showed of Siri I was hooked. What follows here is my unboxing of the device, and as you can see, not too much is different from past iPhones as far as content. I also posted my first impressions, and a full review will follow this weekend.
Today, Apple's newest smartphone goes on sale in seven countries -- Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. We'd like to know: Did you buy one? If so, did you preorder or stand in line? Perhaps you're in line somewhere right now reading this. Do tell us. Maybe you're home, taking a day off from work, waiting for FedEx to deliver you preorder -- and wondering why not a day early like iPhone 4.
I didn't buy the new smartphone. As I wrote last week, "You can have iPhone 4S, I'll take Galaxy S II". (By the way, the S2 is simply the best smartphone I've ever owned. I haven't enjoyed a gadget this much in years.) Meanwhile, my colleague Ed Oswald preordered iPhone 4S. He received it minutes ago as I write. Look for his unboxing photos and first-impressions review later today.
Early this afternoon, Apple flipped the switch making iCloud and its next-version mobile operating system broadly available. To use one you'll need the other, and for Mac owners that also means OS X 10.7.2. If you didn't get iTunes 10.5 yesterday, you'll need it, too.
In many respects, the big news from Apple this week isn't iPhone 4S, no matter how long the buying lines might be come Friday, but iCloud and iOS 5. As I contended earlier today: "iCloud is Apple's killer app". iCloud is a synchronization service that pushes email, contacts and calendars -- like predecessor MobileMe -- and offers online data storage. But there's much more, such as synchronization of applications or digital content like music and movies purchased from the App Store across devices. It's unsurprising that Apple would take a sync-across devices approach. After all, the company generates most of its revenue from selling hardware, not offering cloud services.
What do you do if you're Samsung, and want to stick it to one of your biggest rivals in the mobile space during what will be their biggest sales weekend of the year? You set up shop right down the street.
That's exactly what Samsung has done to Apple in downtown Sydney, setting up a pop-up store two doors down from the Cupertino company's sole location in the city. The Samsung shop opened its doors on Monday and will be open through this Sunday, overlapping the launch weekend of the iPhone 4S.