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I like my gadgets, and generally consider myself an early adopter. When my friends are looking at buying a new piece of technology, I’m the one they ask as they know I’ll either own it or have tried it.

So you might be surprised to learn that my phone is an iPhone 4S and that after yesterday’s unveiling of the 5s (no, I don’t know why it suddenly became lower-case either), I’m planning to wait for the iPhone 6 before upgrading.

It’s not that the 5s isn’t impressive from a purely technological viewpoint. It is. A 64-bit phone? That’s a pretty incredible achievement. Delegating sensor functions to a separate chip to enable constant use without the usual battery-drain? Brilliant. A truly state-of-the-art fingerprint sensor? Fantastic. A larger phone sensor with lower pixel-density? Exactly the right approach, and I was delighted to see Apple refusing to join in the stupid megapixel race.

But I’m still not going to buy one, and the reason for that is two-fold. Before I get to that, one piece of context. In the U.S., upgrading can be a no-brainer as you end up on the same tariff either way. In the UK, it’s better value long-term to buy the phone outright at full retail (around $1120 for the 64Gb 5s), so you have to balance incremental benefit over other gadgets you could buy with the same money – like a new iPad. So, back to those two reasons …

First, much as I love hi-tech solutions for their own sake, I still need to see practical benefit. While I am wowed by the 64-bit CPU, I can’t honestly think of a single occasion when I’ve been using an app and wishing my phone were faster. Perhaps I would if I were a gamer, but I’m generally not. My experience of using my 4S is that I touch a button and something happens. Mobile data delays, sure, but waiting for the processor to do something? Doesn’t ever happen for me.

It’s not like a laptop. The switch from 32-bit to 64-bit there was night-and-day with some tasks, like processing lots of photos and video editing. But those processor-intensive operations aren’t the kind of thing I do on my phone.

m7

The M7 co-processor really is a piece of genius. If you’re not familiar with the concept, normally the CPU – the A7 chip in this case – does pretty much all of the work. Not just running apps, but also all the background stuff too: keeping track of the phone’s orientation, looking out for new wifi networks to join, that kind of stuff. What the 5s does is have a separate chip to take care of the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass. For example, if you’re running a fitness app, instead of the CPU being active the whole time, collecting that data and passing it to the app, the M7 chip simply logs it all and makes it available later to any app on demand. That means the A7 chip has less to do, and you get better battery life.

Fantastic. But in my typical usage, it’s rare for me to run out of battery life. My office is at home, and I have an iPhone dock in my car, so the phone generally only needs to operate on battery power for a few hours at a time. There are exceptions, but for most of those the 4S still copes – and there are battery-cases for the few times they are needed (like cycling holidays).

touchid

Fingerprint sensors aren’t new, and they have even made it into phones before, but the 5s one is incredibly advanced. With many fingerprint sensors, you have to roll your finger across them, and the finger has to be in a consistent orientation. With the 5s sensor, all you do is touch, and it offers 360-degree recognition, so it doesn’t matter how you are holding the phone or how you apply your finger.

I love that. But it’s not enough. Give me fingerprint-protected NFC, so I can leave my wallet at home and only carry my phone, and I’d have been setting up camp outside my local Apple Store. Let me unlock my banking app and Paypal account and I’d have been pretty tempted. But just to unlock my phone? That’s a waste of good technology.

camera

That new phone sensor and f/2.2 lens? Ok, Apple, I admit you did tempt me there. While everyone else crams in more and more pointless megapixels to a tiny sensor just so they can put an impressive-sounding number on the box, you actually understand photography. You know that once you have enough megapixels to produce a decent-sized print (and honestly, even 4MP achieves that), what matters is the quality of those pixels. And for quality, sensor size is king. Couple that with a wide-aperture lens to let in as much light as possible and you have a camera that will be incredibly capable in low-light conditions.

But when I want to take proper photographs, I use my DSLR. My iPhone is what I use for snapshots, where it’s about the memory rather than the art. Improved quality is always good, of course, even for snapshots, but it’s not a massive selling point for me.

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The new styling? Hmm, sorry, Jony, it’s pretty and all, and you’ve achieved an absolute miracle in creating a non-tacky-looking gold phone, but I honestly prefer my all-black 4S.

All of which brings us to the second reason I won’t be buying one. My two-year-old iPhone 4S still looks new. It still looks modern. It still performs beautifully. The buttons and switch all work perfectly. The attention to detail and manufacturing quality that made it a winner then leave it still a winner today. In short, if I were to walk into a phone store today and buy my 4S, I’d be happy with my purchase.

You got me to upgrade from the iPhone 4 to the 4S. Siri did that. But I’ll be able to get the iOS 7 goodness on the 18th just like those who’ve splashed out on the 5s, and there’s nothing else I want enough to join them. In essence, Apple, by creating a quality phone and then allowing me to update it to the latest software two years later, you’ve cost yourself a sale.

But then that’s also the reason I’ll likely still be a customer many years from now. Long-term, Apple’s strategy is bang on the money.

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281 Responses to “Opinion: Why I love the iPhone 5s, and why I’ll be sticking with my 4S”

  1. Dan Jurak says:

    Bang on! I still use my iPhone 4 and after three years see no reason to upgrade. When the iPhone 6 comes out it will be time for an upgrade but for now the old 4 is fast reliable and fast enough to wait for newer technology.

    Like

    • I also have an iPhone, but I would disagree. I am very much ready for an upgrade. Using a 4 we are missing out on a ton of new features coming in iOS 7. And I wouldn’t call the iPhone 4 fast.

      Like

    • I’m still using my iPhone4, too. However, with the iOS7 GM it does not really feel fast anymore. What’s more is that some of the beautiful things are simply not available on the iPhone 4: Weather app not animated, Wallpapers don’t react to phone movement, animations when opening and closing apps tend to stutter, keyboard key presses work quickly enough but the key animations/visual confirmation lag behind, still no Siri and no panorama mode on the cam.
      I consider upgrading, however I’m waiting for the fingerprint sensor to become available for developers, so we actually see the use cases described in the article in real life. If that makes me wait for the iPhone 6, so be it. If they open it up around x-mas, I’ll hop in before.

      Like

      • Paul Threatt says:

        I think developer accessible fingerprint scanning will be made available as a software upgrade after the reliability of the sensor is proven. Just like early iOS Apps and Siri, Apple controlled the strings and the early user experience. It will be opened to the developer community soon after the hardware is proven in the wild.

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  2. do you really really work in the Technology market? really?

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  3. I actually really enjoyed this article. I for one will be upgrading from my 5 to a 5s because of most of the reasons you mentioned, but it’s still nice to hear another opinion.

    But I have to admit that your second to last paragraph threw me for a loop. The reason that you upgraded from a 4 to a 4s was mostly because of Siri? When I upgraded from a 4 to a 4s, Siri was honestly not one of my reasons to do so. I feel like Siri’s usage and capabilities at that time barely warranted an upgrade, but the changes announced yesterday actually seem like big steps. (at least to me anyway)

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    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I was already a big Dragon Dictate user at the time, so I had to have Siri even if it was quite limited at the time. It matured pretty quickly, though, and I have long dictated all my texts and other messages on it.

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  4. “and you’ve achieved an absolute miracle in creating a non-tacky-looking gold phone”

    Really? REALLY?!

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  5. Lets see
    nice article but i bet you´ll get one anyway’

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  6. Waiting is not a bad choice. It will take time for developers to take advantage of the new software and hardware. A year from now there will be compelling reasons to want the 64 bit chip and the finger print scanner. I enjoy being a first adopter so I’ll get a 5s and get to try apps that take advantage of the hardware as they come out, but by waiting you save some cash, and will have polished apps for your iPhone 6.

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    • I agree with your sentiment of waiting – but disagree on the timing. Why would you think the next major number release (i.e. iPhone 6) won’t have larger changes for app developers to adjust to then the 5s? Fhe form factor and screen will likely change in the 6, so that will be just as significant of an adjustment for app developers as a newer processor, if not more so.

      For me, I apply waiting in that I upgrade on the “S” releases. By then developers have apps out for the new screen size / pixel density / whatever, and Apple also had a chance to tweak the new form factor (i.e. antenna from iPhone 4, or tendency for chamfered edges to scratch on iPhone 5 – I’m hoping).

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      • It’s compelling because we are discussing going from 4s to 6, a three generation shift. I agree the second generation of each phone is optimum. Getting on a two year upgrade cycle for the s version would be great for those who don’t need to be a first adopter every year. You get the benefits of the s generation improvements for minimal cost as your 2 year old phone in working condition will pay for all or most of your upgrade costs.

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  7. Love the title, and enjoyed the read. I am saying about the same thing to my friends. “This is a grounbreaker of a change in the phone world, and this is the most amazing phone ever. And, I’m not going to get it, not for a LOOOONG time.” All the actually new things, are way to new for me to care about, or even concern myself over. The 5s is way over the top – and I really don’t want a “mango phone” so much, although they are pretty.

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  8. i will be upgrading from the 4s to the 5s because of features that the 4s can not process. AirDrop and Slow Mo video, dual flash are big selling points to me.

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  9. Solid article with excellent points. With regards to the fingerprint sensor beig able to unlock your banking app and PayPal, that’s really on those company’s not Apple. Perhaps the new SDKs will allow for use in that area. I currently own a 5 and am still debating picking up the 5s for similar points. In short, great post.

    Like

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Apple’s fingerprint video seems to suggest there will be no API and other apps will stay locked out. That has to change at some point, but it’s looking like it won’t be in this cycle.

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      • If I am correct, it just says the fingerprint data never goes to the app. They still could add functionality where the authentication is done by ios and then the program is informed that authentication was successful. Look at the appstore app for an example. My guess is that they want to make sure that it is secure and well-done before they release it. Limiting it to unlocking the phone and paying on itunes just gives them a chance to work out all the bugs.

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      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        That’s possible, and I’d certainly rethink if that proved to be the case

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  10. You will feel the lack of cpu resourses while iOS7 will be on board..

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    • That’ s where you are mistaken regarding iOS…it is always further and further optimized. That is the key, smart programming, optimalization to their devices

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      • Paul Threatt says:

        You MIGHT count on Apple to keep their software and OS lean and mean, but your general App developer won’t spend a lot of precious time and money optimizing their software for performance on aging hardware. That’s where the upgrade pressure will come from. They’ll only optimize for older iOS hardware if negative complaints hurt sales, or if they have a hit on their hands and the money rolls in sufficient to produce patches.

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  11. I have iOS 7 beta 7 in 4S, is now a more slowly phone.

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  12. Adam Seward says:

    I will not update to 5S I had a 3GS and upgraded to 4S which was for me at the time an insane upgrade and worth the purchase, then I bought the 5. the 5S as nifty as it sounds does not appeal to me yes it sounds cool but honestly it isn’t enough for me to load down the bucks and upgrade when next year there will be a different a much better phone and the tech will be taken more advantage of.

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  13. I really enjoyed this totally honest article. Great work even though I do not share your opinion about the C3PO phone.

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  14. iPhone 4S user here, I agree with some of what you said, but I gotta say, performance is an issue, I have been using iOS 7 beta since day 1, performance did get better with each release, but I am not quite satisfied with it, it is the main driver for my decision to upgrade to 5S, if you haven’t used iOS 7 beta, once the iOS 7 is rolled out, you will get my point. I hope I am wrong, as I will be waiting for some time before I can my hands on a new 5S

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  15. Benjamin Lee says:

    A long article almost in the TL;DR category but I got through it.. eventually.. Thoughtful insights, only for you to end the post with you admitting you upgraded to the 4S because of Siri haha. That pretty much voids all your credibility.

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  16. smub99 says:

    Well written article – opinion but not in an obnoxious manner.

    I have a 4S myself, but I will be upgrading to the 5s. The battery life on my 4S has become intolerable and I am barely able to survive normal working hours without requiring a charge. I am not expecting several days battery life by upgrading but I am hoping that it can last me until bedtime with regular use. Secondly the fingerprint sensor is a deal maker for me. While it’s use is limited at present, I found having a passcode an annoyance and I often go without having it on. I also found entering my iTunes password in the AppStore an irritant, so replacing the need for both of these things is is sufficient. I am certain over the next year Apple will expand it’s use.

    I can see why Apple said the 5s is a forward thinking phone and I do feel it is a device that will fulfil my requirements for longer than other phones I have owned.

    Like

  17. As an iPhone 4 user I am moving up to 5s because the speed difference finally seems big enough.

    Finding contacts I want to call and opening my agenda and Tom Tom apps are getting a bit too slow while life has become more busy and the databases more and more crowded.

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  18. Estimote Bluetooth Smart Beacon – iBeacon-compatible
    NFC killer

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  19. Same for me. I’ll keep my 4s for another year. Still very happy with it. And once I’ll get an new phone this will be handed down within the family. Just like my old 4 which is still in heavy use after 3 years.

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  20. My 4s battery life barely makes 6 hours with basic use, and is a 3G network phone. We go to Disney parks a lot, and I prefer not to carry a larger camera, or a extended battery pack when we are there all day.

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  21. I agree 100% with you regarding the Touch ID feature. If Apple had invented an application that allowed people to add their debit and credit cards onto their phones so that you would never have to use a wallet again… Apple wouldn’t be able to make enough phones to meet their customers needs.

    Sadly this was not the case but they would be pretty stupid not to include something like that in future iOS updates.

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  22. Personally I’ll be going for the ‘Space Grey’ 5GS with the Product (RED) cover. My iPhone 3GS, venerable star performer as it has been is now getting cludgy plus the volume rocker broke. I can’t wait ANY longer & for me personally 64bit is the key with this one.

    This means it should get iOS 8 & iOS 9. Maybe iOSXI (Damn sure Sir J can think of a better name) when that finally gets done (merger of iOS & OS X) on the ARM platform… Bye bye intel, it was nice knowin yer;)

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  23. I wish siri were to be built into the phone for a faster response for that is the only reason i dont like siri. the functionality is there but it takes too long for a response.

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  24. Alex LaPrade says:

    No mention of LTE? That’s what got me to upgrade from a 4S to a 5.

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  25. Sal Junior says:

    It’s a waste not to upgrade at least every 2 years if you are on a contract. You can resell the phone on eBay, sign another 2 year contract, and probably still come out ahead, especially if your phone is I’m new condition. If you don’t do this, you are essentially throwing away money.

    Like

  26. Couldn’t have said it better myself “I love that. But it’s not enough. Give me fingerprint-protected NFC, so I can leave my wallet at home and only carry my phone, and I’d have been setting up camp outside my local Apple Store. Let me unlock my banking app and Paypal account and I’d have been pretty tempted. But just to unlock my phone? That’s a waste of good technology.” — No NFC = Gigantic fail. OK some people say NFC isn’t secure and bliggity blahgity bloo…fine, come up with some other solution then that IS secure and will allow me to not have to carry around a wallet anymore…that’s on Apple to do that, not to just sit back and not do anything. Complacency is rampant throughout Apple.

    Like

  27. PMZanetti says:

    Wow. That is the most pathetic, ranty, whiny bunch of bullshit I’ve ever read.

    NFC is a fucking joke. Much like this article. You’re just like every other 4S owner that I know that won’t get anything else, because they’re afraid of change.

    Like

  28. Kyle Adams says:

    If you plan on sticking with the 4S, I would plan on sticking with iOS 6. Some of the bells and whistles are nice (on my 5), but even so, it feels bloated and unpolished in many areas. I imagine your 4S will feel the impact of iOS 7 immediately, and your decision to upgrade will quickly change. Or you’ll want to downgrade back to iOS 6, haha. Who knows!

    Like

  29. gilesbeau says:

    Nice review but…. you are basically saying you don’t use all of the features that are packed into an iPhone 4S so you are holding out just for the sake of saying you are until the 6 comes out. One less person people have to wait in line behind at the stores , on the phones or online come pre order. I myself like to upgrade as often as the contracts allow just because to me having one more feature which the 5s has many compared to the 5 makes using the phone that much better for everyday use. I would also find it hard to write reviews on things you don’t even have or use.

    Like

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I don’t do contracts – in the UK it works out cheaper to buy the phone outright and then have a SIM-free contract – so I don’t have an automatic upgrade cycle, I take each one on its merits. This piece isn’t a review of the phone.

      Like

  30. What’s funny is, I wasn’t going to upgrade my iPhone 5, but after reading this brilliant opinion piece, I think I’m now going to.

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  31. I’m on a 4S and would be willing to wait for the 6 if it wasn’t for the fact that I can’t take another year of being stuck on 3G. Also, I installed the iOS 7 GM on my phone last night and it seems kinda laggy on the 4S. It’s not awful but I think there is a noticeable difference in how much slower it is on the older phone, so for me, I’m glad I will be upgrading to a faster phone soon.

    Like

  32. tigerpork says:

    And when the iphone 6 comes out…you’re going to post the same article telling us why you wouldn’t upgrade from your 4s.

    Like

  33. hmm. I have to say I agree. Although I like Apple’s stuff I look at the latest update to the product line and it looks tired and lazy. First off, Apple (allegedly) is finally coming to the table with an entry level phone in the 5C – now we all know this is a pile of crap (the 4S is the entry product until it gets nix’d). It’s the 5 in a plastic mac. It annoys me that they’re trying to sell it as a different entry point product when the price alone doesn’t really define it as such in any really meaningful way. I know they want to keep the coffers full but they missed a trick with this. That aside, they’ll sell bucket loads.

    The second thing, is Johnny Ive is slowly becoming as annoying as Phillipe Stark and that is some feat. His work has been in stasis from the 4 onwards. The 4 was amazing but since then we’ve had very little of real substance out of Apple’s (mobile) hardware division in terms of new design language. To compound this, and I really do mean it, the Nokia (or whatever they will become) lumia handsets are by far, nicer designed, more ergonomic and come in colours that don’t look cheap. Did apple choose cheap looking colours to ensure people covet the iP5s? I notice there’s a white one but not a black one? Is this because they’d be worried that it would look better than the iP5s? Who knows. All I know is the colours look terrible in the PR shots and it’s a safe bet that the white one will ship bigger numbers.

    This all sounds pretty harsh from a died-in-the-wool Apple fan but I look at the current crop and, minus technical updates which are welcomed, Apple is missing that magic. There’s no doubt a slightly larger screen would be welcome. We’re not talking phablet territory but it has to happen. And a new approach to materials would be welcome. As I mentioned, Nokia’s lumias are beautiful, Apple can learn to be humble and take inspiration from its competitors. And finally, for a company that prides itself on innovation, I’m still waiting for them to catch up to Sony with their waterproofed Xperia – truly a fully useful, every day addition tech-wise that would benefit most iPhone uses and some point or other. I love Apple but I really need them to be, a little bit less Apple sometimes.

    Like

    • Tired and lazy? Lazy would have been to just cram more pixels into the camera or look the other way when everyone knows phone security is a big deal now that more and more of our personal data is being stored on them. And the new M7 processor in an effort to tackle the battery life issue – Genius.

      What’s funny is Apple just tackled three big problems that exist on mobile devices: Picture quality, security, and battery life and you totally missed “the magic”. Yet instead, you would have preferred a water proof phone?? The iPhone 5s seeks to address relevant problems… What current issue does the Xperia address?

      Like

      • I think you’re looking for a fight buddy but not reading what I wrote. I mentioned that the technical updates are great and welcomed. This covers all of the whizz bang technical updates – my specific gripe is that, from an industrial design standpoint the range is tepid at best. Fingerprint scanning is cool. An incremental update to a camera is a baseline expectation so you can stop blowing that trumpet and so is an improvement to a chip architecture. It’s all good stuff but most of it should be expected from Apple as it is with other vendors. As for solving tackling the battery life issue. Please, don’t make me laugh, mate. The battery issue is a fundamental one that no amount of tweaking with it will make the kind of leaps we as consumers want. I’m by no means a heavy phone user but have to charge my iPhone every day. An iPhone 5s is not going to be that much different. Not by the amount I would consider significant in any meaningful way. The company that does crack the battery issue will have a license to print money. And as for Sony’s Experia (and I’m pretty sure a Panny phone did it first) what relevant problem does it address? Er, hello, it’s waterproof. Now, as a normal chap, I see that as a HUGE benefit to me because it means if I drop it into water, have water splash onto it (or beer etc) or some other liquid nightmare descends upon it then it will be completely safe. As the punter who pays for the hardware I like the idea of it being more robust. It;s a phone, it goes everywhere with me and if it can be made slightly more capable of dealing with extremes in environment that that’d be great thanks.

        See. Apple does it again. You’re seeing magic but it’s just smoke and mirrors. It’s the best trick in the book.

        Like

    • You’ve got a valid point. The phone’s design hasn’t changed much in 3 years. I don’t mind it so much because a lot of accessories transfer over and things like full body skins apply easily to a flat phone, however I’m fully expecting a redesign for the 6. A lot of people will be very disappointed if it isn’t. Time to use that liquid metal license.

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  34. Nice article, Ben. Now the one thing that I’d say is that though my iP4S took great pictures, my iP5 does a much better job there, to the point that I really can’t say that my Sony Nex-5 does it much better on day to day shots.
    With the 5s camera specs, I think we can expect an even more significant improvement. The iP5 camera is outstanding, and so will be the iP5s.

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  35. I have a 4S,I have an upgrade available and yes I would buy a 5s. My 4S is fine for what I use it for, which is basics like phone calls, email, Twitter, Facebook and a photo now and then. An added plus is the phone’s look is iconic. I don’t game so the speed is relatively moot. I probably will buy a 5s at a later date when the price comes down. I also prefer to wait to see if any bugs show up and if anyone hacks the fingerprint scanner.

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  36. Can’t agree your article more, this is the same reason I stay with my 4S for now. It is still fast enough for almost everything (except the camera). It still works like new and if I really need a better camera, I can get the new Sony lens for it. I will save my money for the ipad 5 instead, which I think the A7X will be more useful there.

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  37. I have EXACTLY the same views, I have a black iPhone 4S which has nothing wrong with it and I do not need to upgrade for a new one, (however) my memory is starting to fill up so I may consider an iPhone 5S 32gb instead, call it killing two birds with one stone except the first bird did not matter to me.

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  38. iOS 7 and apps optimized for 5/5s are going to start bogging down that 4S, though.

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  39. A Tech writer with a 2 year old phone hesitant to upgrade? That’s like a Plumber with a leaky faucet. If your job depend on discussing technology it’s sort of a pre-requisite that you stay current. Just saying

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    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      It’s more like a plumber deciding to stick with his existing pipe system rather than upgrade to the latest pipe tech. My second point, admittedly made rather more briefly at the end, is that my 4S doesn’t leak … (Though it may start to do so when I pump iOS 7 through it, so we shall see.)

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  40. Well written article and I sure enjoyed reading it. Well done!

    I totally agree with you. The 5s is an amazing device and I absolutely love it. However, my 4S is still going strong and there is not much of a reason for me to replace it. Unless there is a huge discount on the 5s later this year like $99 with contract, otherwise, my 4S will have to stay with me for a little while :)

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  41. BTW: No USB 3.0 in the new iPhones? Why not?

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  42. This article makes perfect sense. Current iPhone 4S and 5 users have no practical need to upgrade. Any upgrading would be in the ‘want’ category, and there is nothing wrong with that. I may side-grade from my iPhone 5, to a 5C, just cause I like the hardened poly-carbonate case and color (I miss that from the 3 and 3GS).

    Now, if I had an iPhone 4, I’d want to upgrade. The 4 is pretty slow, compared to the 4S or 5, and the camera is ho-hum even when you compare it to the 4S.

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  43. I agree. The main thing I am looking forward to is iOS7. The new phones look nice and all but I have a 4S and it’s working fine for 2 years, I am sure it will continue to work for a couple more.

    I dislike how they are trying to force every consumer to buy the new 5C phones by dropping the regular 5 version. That is just a sly way of them forcing a new mid range product while making much more profit per unit, mainly due to the same tech but in a plastic phone.

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  44. I don’t see why people don’t upgrade whenever they are entitled to. This doesn’t seem to be a common opinion.
    My logic (only applies to ATT and Verizon customers (T-Mobile changed all this by separating the payment for the phone and payment for service.)) The full price of an iPhone 5 was $649. I paid $200 upfront leaving me to pay $449 by way of my monthly fee. Over 24 months that is $18 per month. If I then go without upgrading when my contract is up I am paying them that for nothing. Selling a used iPhone will cover, or come close to, the upgrade cost. Why wouldn’t one upgrade?

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  45. I would agree with you except that like you I have a 4s, and most carriers are really discontinuing service for 3G, and I live in a big metro area 4g lte is enough. Two i believe the finger print scanner will expand for use, and from reviews ios 7 is killer on 4s and 4 in terms of battery life. So while we may get the upgrade it comes with a price.

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  46. John Doe says:

    Ben, you nailed it. Personally even the iPhone 4 is plenty fast enough for a phone for me, and 3G speed is absolutely fine.

    Faster is not necessarily better if you’re not going to get any benefit from it, and although I have a ton of apps on my phone and use them very actively, I have never felt the iPhone 4 was too slow. I am also convinced that apart from some tech geeks this actually applies to most people.

    Obviously Apple and all the similar companies DEPEND on people wanting the latest and greatest, but I do not buy a phone to benefit them – I buy one to satisfy my own requirements. And the iPhone 4S will do that very well indeed.

    Like

  47. Tim still thinks he can do the difference!!! what a dumm, so big event for what??? plastic iPhone and new finger print security!!!! what is Apple doing since Jobs left??? bullshit. i am a end user, i dont care about which technology my equipments have, as long as they fit my necessities. i still dont see one small advantage to update my 4s 64GB, i still dont see one improvement!!! and iOS7??? a ReVamp OS??? for what??? PEOPLE look for the essensial forget the acessory and do the right choices for the right products :) BIG BIG BIG DISAPOINTMENT this Apple management!

    Like

  48. Meh. The author may indeed be truly sticking with the 4S (good phone). But, this opinion piece is hardly more than typical link bait aimed @Apple. I expected more from this site.

    Like

  49. Jean Selvon says:

    4S really? LTE & 4in screen wasn’t enough to get you to upgrade to iphone 5? I understand your points to not upgrade to 5s but i’m very surprised you decided to rest with a 4S and not a 5.

    Like

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I actually prefer the 4-inch screen, but that’s because my iPad goes pretty much everywhere with me. My iPhone is used largely as a phone (amazing, I know!) and for the kind of apps where you just want to quickly get one piece of info – the iPad does the rest. I know I’ll have to live with a larger screen when the 6 rolls around, but bezels will be even thinner by then, so physical size shouldn’t be affected too much and may even be smaller (witness Nexus 4 against Nexus 5).

      Like

  50. Jim Phong says:

    Stick with with the iPhone 4S .. WHAT ?
    Not even got an iPhone 5 ? Skipping 2 generations ? Why ?
    Absolute nonsense.
    The iPhone 5S is worth buying even for iPhone 5 customers.
    The iPhone 5C it’s a scam, high price, low quality plastic.. a shame by Tim Cook.

    Like

    • I disagree about the 5C being a scam. It’s the exact same playbook they’ve always followed. It’s the last year’s model at the $99 price point. They just slapped a different body on it. People have been asking for colors for years and now they have some options. If anything they’ve upped their game a bit in that regard.

      Like

      • Actually, this is why 5c is a scam. Think about it, which one is cheaper to make, the 5c or 5? Now, if you look at the spec, they are pretty much the same phone. Apple could have just keep the 5 and sell it for $99 and have the plastic version, which is the 5c, for free with contract. That will make perfect sense, and yet Tim Cook decided to have the 5c replace the 5 and charge $99 for it. I mean, what? Like WHAT?

        Like

      • John Doe says:

        Because Apple is a business and they will make more margin on the 5C than they would on the 5. They have also calculated that they will make more net profit by selling the 5C at the price point they have selected than by reducing it to a lower price.

        That’s why the financial guys have it wrong when they mark down Apple shares. Apple are not interested in market share – if they were they wouldn’t have made iOS 7 run on older hardware – they would have simply played the Android game and FORCED people to upgrade their hardware to get the latest version of the OS. They are more interested in playing the long game and maximising their overall profit.

        Besides which they are probably somewhat capacity constrained – people forget what a vast number of phones they ship and how it is just not easy for one company to simply increase the build rate forever.

        Like

      • It’s not a scam it’s smart business. It’s essentially the same product in every way that matters. Is it cheaper to manufacture? Probably. Although you have to include the cost of R&D and marketing into it. Plus now they will presumably be able to manufacture 5S’s at a faster rate because of the added volume of aluminum and glass for the backs (although my guess is the constraining factor is, was, and always will be the screen).

        Like

  51. Where are all the people that upgrade to new iPhones because you’re a gadget aficionado or because of the tradition of always having latest and greatest fastest iphone ever. I for one am both of those people and i will be selling my ip5 to purchase the 5s just like i did when i sold my 4 to purchase the 4s and so on. stop all this pessimistic negative talk about how you don’t need this and you don’t need that. just shut up and give apple your money. you know deep inside you want to so just do it. i promise you will be more then happy you did.

    Like

    • John Doe says:

      Your comment is either the height of irony or extremely sad. Go on, own up, which is it? If is not irony then you have a serious addiction to throwing your money away.

      Like

      • it’s not sad or ironic. Some people are gadget geeks and can afford to upgrade every year. I’m one of them. And it’s not that big of a hit as I just sell my previous model for $500 on ebay. I get new toys every year and I’m the expert my friends and family all go to with their questions because of it. I fail to see the problem, other than his somewhat seeming to look down on those that don’t upgrade and your somewhat seeming to look down on those who do. Who cares? To each their own.

        Like

      • John Doe says:

        Very honest. I suppose it’s what keeps the economy going.

        Just don’t kid yourself that you actually NEED rather than just want what the new phones offer. At the end of the day it’s just another material possession that does a job for you.

        If you don’t have a better use for the money (like saving for your future or spending quality time with friends/family) then that’s fine – it’s just that I find it a bit sad/sickening when I see my mates living in crap circumstances while they tout the newest phone or flashiest car.

        Lots of people (obviously not you) have been so convinced by marketing people that they NEED the latest stuff that it grossly distorts their sense of what is important in life. Personally although I could easily afford to buy the newest stuff I just hate to succumb to wasting money on things that don’t bring me any real benefit. The thrill of the new wears off very quickly when I realise that it hasn’t actually measurably improved my life.

        Like

      • I respect your opinion and reasoning for not always buying the newest thing every year. I know I don’t NEED it. Nobody actually needs a smartphone. I got along fine before smartphones and before cell phones in general. It’s just one of those things that makes life easier and more fun. But don’t kid yourself either. Just because you don’t buy the newest gadget every year doesn’t mean you don’t spend your money somewhere else you may not need to. It’s just a matter of deciding what your willing to pay for and what you aren’t. More power to ya though.

        Like

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Nothing wrong with upgrading to the latest tech just because you want to. Believe me, I’ve done that plenty of times. :-)

      Like

  52. The title should read, why i will be switching to the 5S in 2 months… (probably end of october or NOV)
    The 4S is a great phone, but the lure of a larger screen, finger print scanner, 64BIT cpu and a WAY better camera than the 4S will OVERPOWER YOU. I know because I went from the $S to the 5 2 months later because i couldn’t resist. There will be so many reasons in your head on why you should upgrade, but you will, trust me..

    Like

  53. x425m says:

    If iphone had 5 or 6 inches, or finger print scanner, faster processor or higher megapixel camera, iphone will not help apple, because it’s not all about the size of the screen or finger scanner, or faster processor etc.

    People loose interest in iphone because of the too much restriction of ios. Can’t do much real work for it to be practical to use. Can’t share files. can’t make real folders for photo everything has to be in camera roll. the so call making folders are fake folders. when you plug in the usb computer there is no photo folders of what you made but some bunch of annoying encrypted folder names, I’m sure iphone user know what I meant. no cross application file or document sharing integration. just too much restrictions which is a pain in the butt. iphone is like point and shoot camera. android is like DSLR camera. DSLR has lot’s of freedom and practical use of function, and if you don’t like the manual mode you can just go auto mode for beginners. since more and more people had owned smart phone for quite some while. more people will be leaving iphone and upgrade for a more featured system with less restiction. that’s why making the screen bigger will not solve the boring hands and feet tie restrictions of the ios. and that will be the trend when user get more advanced will ditch expensive ios devices.

    Like

  54. I most likely missunderstood. But the way I heard it, apple would not share your fingerprint with anyone. So does that really mean that third party apps cant use the fingerprintsensor, even if they have their own way of storing your fingerprint?

    Like

    • Rob Smithson says:

      API likely is passed from a 3rd party app and back….so the 3rd party just gets a “yes” or “no” that your identity is correct, or some form of that. I doubt it will be implemented for 3rd parties for awhile though, Apple needs to test it out on the masses with iTunes and the AppStore first.

      Like

  55. Thanks for the article. Goos thoughts and I think theres a lot of IP4S ans IP5 users out there thinking the same as you. I have an IP4S myself and I think it has worked so well, that I could only dream of changing to a IP5S. But the biggest point of all, that matters, is that you can upgrade your older iPhones with the new IOS7. I think this has a huge impact on peoples purchase decisions.

    Like

  56. I agree.

    Love my 4S and i would like the fingerprint scanner but that is not enough for me to get a new phone.
    Personally i like the size of the 4S better then the bigger 5S and that is also a reason to stay away a little bit longer.

    Like

  57. Ryan Gibson says:

    I appreciate the article. I’m a 4S user as well and likely won’t change either – at least not for now.

    I would point out, however, the Siri turned out to be a fringe feature that turned out to be much less practical than many had hoped.I think that the 5s is a fantastic “s” phone with very practical core upgrades (speed, security, photography, compatibility and convenience).

    Like

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      I think I’m in a minority in being happy with Siri. Sure, I really want app integration so I can use it for everything, but I rarely type on my phone – pretty much every message I ever send is dictated. Same with reminders, calendar entries, notes.

      Like

      • Ryan Gibson says:

        I’m still (and will be for the foreseeable future) cheering on Apple and for Siri to be the tool it could be – hopefully sooner rather than later. I still use the feature but have to remind myself to use it. When the majority can use Siri naturally because it’s faster and nearly as accurate as typing, that will be a good day. I think this will likely happen gradually and one day we’ll just find ourselves relying on it.

        Like

      • Ben Lovejoy says:

        In my experience, we’ve already reached that point for dictation. Where Siri is lacking is in application support. I have a train app and my phone knows where I am – it’s ridiculous that I can’t ask Siri “What time is my next train home?”

        Like

  58. Alex Hass says:

    I like your article but I am still encouraging my wife to upgrade her 4S to either the 5c or 5s, the main reason being the weight/form factor, as the 4/4s is much heavier and more prone to break. Otherwise I agree that there is not too much impressive change… I will keep my 5 for now and wait for the 6!

    Like

  59. i agree,

    i switched from 4s to the 5 for the larger screen and LTE but this year i will pass.

    i feel they will release a 4.8” iPhone before May 2014 and if they don’t they will feel the pain on Wall st.

    This sector is too competitive now and they don’t have a 5 year lead anymore so they better wake up.

    Like

  60. Aaron Tuleja says:

    Sweet Stealth Poors Thread

    Like

  61. The iPhone 5 transition to LTE trumps all of this article’s points. To say your phone is not significantly slower reduces your credibility, even if YOU don’t know it.

    Like

    • John Doe says:

      But how “fast” does a PHONE really need to be?

      Like

      • Speed is relative to what we ask our phones to do. It’s not speed for speed’s sake. You’d likely not find as much speed benefit between the iPhone 5 and 5S running iOS 6, for example, because iOS 6 is optimized to run fast on iPhone 5 hardware. However once you start asking that same hardware to run a more processor intensive iOS 7, you start to see the benefit when your iPhone 5 gets a little laggy. Or when your 4S doesn’t get all the bells and whistles because it starts to choke on the higher requirements. Faster hardware enables things like the fingerprint sensor or new camera modes and image processing. As the hardware gets faster, we can ask it to do more, and inversely will notice our older, slower hardware doing less, or doing the same less expediently. So a phone needs to be as fast as they can make it to enable it to do new things and do old things better.

        Like

      • If you stop thinking of them as phones and more as miniature portable computers that happen to make phone calls, it makes more sense to continually want more speed and power.

        Like

      • John Doe says:

        I can accept that argument for an iPad (although I’m still dubious about how much horsepower even an iPad needs) but here we’re talking about a PHONE – defined by its form factor. I just don’t need any more horsepower in my pocket.

        Like

      • Well, like I said, it’s MUCH more than just a phone. If all it did was make phone calls I’d agree with you, but ask yourself what you actually do with it and with the nature of apps becoming more complex and websites offering ever expanding information and fancier graphics effects and better camera quality and video quality and processing larger files and all the added functions and features and you’ll find speed isn’t a novelty, it’s an ever growing necessity for progress and advancement.

        Like

      • John Doe says:

        But that’s the point. I find even the iPhone 4 plenty fast enough for all the stuff I actually want to do with the phone I carry around in my pocket. What exactly do I need more speed for? And I say that as someone who has a gazillion apps on my phone and I do actually use lots of them as part of my work. An iPad is somewhat different, but even then I just don’t feel the need for more speed than the current models offer. I have also checked out iOS 7 on the iPhone 4S and for me it is absolutely totally fine in terms of speed/lag/whatever.

        Like

      • pardon my ridiculous run-on sentence

        Like

      • well if you’re happy with your 4 that’s perfectly fine. I personally want my phone to be as fast as possible at what I’m doing. Just call me Maverick, cuz I have the need, the need for speed! But seriously there’s nothing wrong with your phone if you’re happy with it. You just asked how fast a phone needs to be and I posited a few examples. I will say this, though. If you update to iOS 7, you may find the reason you want a faster phone. Maybe not. That’s just my guess.

        Like

      • Guess I didn’t read your whole comment. If you’re happy with iOS 7 performance on your 4S, that’s great. No reason you HAVE to upgrade. I’m not trying to convince you. You can run that thing till it gives up the ghost. That’s totally your prerogative.

        Like

      • I think many of you limited by your scope or use of “a” device. Let me ask you this. The server who is using the iPod or iPhone to order your food. Do you want it fast or slow? Dont think of phone as a device to make calls but to be productive in the field, restaurant, etc.

        Like

      • John Doe says:

        You are making my point for me. The phone simply needs to be fast enough to do the job for which it is needed. A faster phone will not make any difference to the efficiency with which a server can take an order from me, or pretty much all the tasks for which it will be used.

        Let’s face it, Apple, Samsung and the other manufacturers increase the performance of their phones simply because they HAVE to do so in order to stay competitive with each other. They do not do it because their customers need it, but because people foolishly feel they must have the latest and greatest model, whether they actually have any real need for it, they are taken in and spend their money.

        Like

    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      LTE vs 3G is a killer argument if a substantial amount of your data use is on your phone. Almost all my mobile data use is on my iPad, where what I really want is LTE-A. The phone is used as a phone, for messaging and the type of quick-check apps that don’t justify reaching into my bag for my iPad, or walking along the street when the one-handed nature of the phone is more convenient.

      Like

  62. scaboo says:

    Great article; thank you. I think I’ll be upgrading from my iPhone 4 to the 5s simply because the home button has become very non-responsive and I don’t think it will hold out until 6 is released.

    Like

  63. I completely respect your opinion. But am damn sure you will realize that your decision now is not right. It will happen sooner. First of all, once you install ios 7 on ur 4s, you will realize the slowness in the device. Next, the M7 processor is not only for handling sensors, but to use those sensors always to capture data. You will realize that soon after the developers come with some revolutionary stuff.. Next, fingerprint sensor, You will realize soon after apple releases access to developers. Also its not only for device unlocking but also to app store purchases. Iam sure apple will open this, but wont allow access to the fingerprint itseld, but someway to identify and use the existing stored fingerprints. Next, the camera, iphone 5’s camera is in itself is far better than 4s. Once you start using the 5S you will realize how good it is. But ofcourse, the last one will happen only after you buy it.

    Like

  64. Last but not least, by sticking 4s you are not enjoying LTE.. its incredible.

    Like

    • LTE is great, and I would love to have it. However, I rarely use my 4S for heavy browsing, downloading, or any tasks those require me to have an ultra fast network speed. Perhaps is the fact that I don’t have unlimited plan makes me do so. Of course it would be even more ideal if I can have a LTE phone, but it’s just not necessary for me.

      Like

  65. Usman Haque says:

    Glad to see you’re still enjoying your 4S. Like many of the commentors in this article, my 16gb 4S has been passed on in my family; first to my wife until she decided she needed a 64gb iPhone, and now my mother uses it to talk to her friends, FaceTime with her grandchildren, and play Solitaire and Candy Crush.

    As a little bit of background, I am disabled. My arms extend just beyond my elbow, and I have small hands and no fingers (which will be interesting when trying to use the TouchID sensor). That being said, the iPhone has greatly improved my accessibility and productivity since it launched in 2007. Using the iPhone freed me from the constraints of phones with tiny buttons and allowed my unique hands more space to swipe around. Before the iPhone I could not read a normal newspaper without laying it across a table, or play a videogame without finding a pillow on which to rest the controller. As the iPhone evolved with each iteration it became my single most-used device and became a more accessible: computer, camera, mp3 player, notebook/journal, game console, newspaper, compass, GPS, device locator, etc.

    While I understand your reasons against upgrading to the 5s, many of those reasons actually support my decision to not just upgrade from my iPhone 5, but to upgrade early (and incure a penalty from AT&T for doing so). My 3 biggest reasons for upgrading are: the updated camera sensor and wide-angle lens, the 64-bit A7 processor, and FREE iWork and iLife apps.

    To my first point about the camera, I am not a professional photographer, nor do I aspire to be one, but the updated camera negates my need to buy a pricey and bulky SLR camera, which I was originally planning on purchasing this fall. Apple’s cameras have consistently improved with each iPhone, and the camera in the 5s looks to really capture the depth, color, and clarity we are increasingly looking for. Also, the inclusion of burst shots and slow-mo video recording will only further enhance the photos and videos we can take. Next, the A7 processor will enhance the experience of our content creation/consumption by enabling us to multi-task and use increasingly capable apps with less of a drain on battery life. Finally, while not exclusive to the iPhone 5s, Apple’s newly FREE iWork and iLife apps will be optimized for use on the new flagship device, and will enable everyone to create beautiful content on-the-go.

    I know I must sound like an Apple freak or iPhone fanboy, but its only because the iPhone has helped solve many of the issues I’ve had and made my life that much easier. The 5s may not be revolutionary, but it is a substantial evolution of an already amazing product line. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

    Written using Siri on my iPhone 5

    Like

  66. Rob Smithson says:

    I am betting the iPhone 6 will have NFC. I prefer the pace they are taking, beefing up phone security before enabling a mass mobile payment system. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple buy up a payment processing company (or even Square) in the next 6 months.

    Like

  67. The article makes sense, however there are variety of personal Likes and Dislikes which no can understand except you :)
    The s looks to be in good share however for normal person it might look like s -> same :P (Stealing from one of the video I saw few hours back)
    I am not understanding Apple’s strategy here, seriously no one care for 64 bit unless you are hard gamer. I have iPhone 5 so NO WAY I am thinking of upgrading it. I am with you if you want to upgrade from 4S either. Makes perfect sense to me. I agree if there was NFC things would have been dramatic. I guess Apple is still waiting for the “Perfect” solution/ use for NFC and may be it might be there in iPhone 6 as it may cost them basic hardware design change which would mean huge money.

    I still dont think Apple can get away with this iPhone 5 s piece and I would really like to see how people respond to this non changed phone.

    Like

  68. Good article. I too use a 4S and have been waiting to upgrade. I was hoping for a slightly larger screen, but I’ll probably upgrade for a reason you don’t fully address in the article. I frequently use my phone for internet tethering for my MBP. The 3G speed is just way too slow. And my wife complains about he photos I take with the 4S. But overall, the 5s is a disappointment – maybe that’s why the “s” is lower case.

    Like

  69. I will probably upgrade because it is cheaper for me to sell my phone outright on ebay or Amazon and use that money to buy an off contract one. I use straight talk and can usually find someone selling their new iphone that they don’t like for around 500-550 while mine sells on ebay for 450 or more. January and February is about the time to take advantage of those wanting to get rid of their “new” iphones. Last year i upgraded from the 4S to 5 for about 50 bucks out of pocket. We’ll see what happens this year…

    Like

  70. Lower case s because that’s the way steve signed his name.

    Like

  71. Your argument is weak. The iPhone 5 looks old compared to the 5S, let alone the 4S!

    If you don’t want to upgrade, don’t, by why write a major article about it? Are you trying to dissuade users from buying this phone?

    Like

  72. Why would you not want to upgrade for LTE. I chose not to upgrade from the 4S to the 5 because I knew it would take my carrier Sprint more than half of the year to get LTE in my area. It didn’t make sense to pay the off contract price and go through the hassle of selling my phone to not enjoy the main selling point of the 5, 4G data. It’s a no brainer now, with all the audio/video streaming apps out there, LTE is a must have.

    Like

  73. Jooi Lim says:

    >>>
    Let me unlock my banking app and Paypal account and I’d have been pretty tempted. But just to unlock my phone? That’s a waste of good technology.
    <<<

    Isn't this aspect out of Apple's control? Apple cannot dictate what Paypal or your banking app does. If Paypal insists on you entering your password each and everytime, what's Apple got to do with it.

    Take for example the Apple "Find Friends" app. If you have lock screen enabled, "Find Friend" will not ask you to enter your Apple account password. I don't have a lock screen passcode set, so each invocation of this "Find Friends" app requires me to enter my iTunes/Apple password NOT the iPhone passcode. This is generally for security and privacy reason.

    Now, take for example a banking app, in my case my E*Trade app. It has an option to either have a simple passcode option which keeps in logged in with my real E*Trade password (after I've entered it the first time) or I have to enter my E*Trade password each and every time. E*Trade could choose the route of "Find Friends" and allow me to access my account info provided my phone is unlocked. Do I want this? Absolutely not! Even if it has this option, I would not use it.

    Think about how many times your friends, co-workers, child may ask to borrow your phone. Do you seriously want them to accidently open your Paypal or banking app without a secondary password confirmation? I think not.

    In either case, it is not up to Apple, but rather the individual app developer to implement this, though at the moment fingerprint is not accessible but they could have implemented this previously with the lock screen if they so choose to.

    About not upgrading to 5 or 5s or 5c from the 4S. Other than the obvious gain in a larger screen and much much lighter phone, you also gain LTE. Granted you work from home, so you are obviously on wifi all the time. So, download speed is not a concern for you. How many people are as lucky as you to be working from home? Even if you don't fancy the larger screen and the lighter phone (both didn't sway me initially), the speed boost going from 3G to LTE is tremendous.

    Good luck waiting another year for the iPhone 6.

    Like

    • John Doe says:

      But what edge use do you have where downloading vast amounts of data is necessary, or the time spent downloading that data is a problem? 3G is plenty fast enough for me downloading spreadsheets and other documents from Dropbox, or browsing the web.

      Like

  74. Len Williams says:

    I, too, have an iPhone 4S and am delighted with it. I upgraded from an original 2008 iPhone, so the speed increase was amazing! I’m interested in the improved camera and the larger screen but my 4S is still just such a great device that the 5s is not necessarily a must-have. It remains to be seen if iOS 7 slows down my 4S — that would make it a reason to upgrade, but currently I never notice a lag with the4S. Now if the iPhone 6 comes out with a 4.5″ screen, it would definitely tempt me to upgrade. I don’t want to be carrying an aircraft carrier-sized phone in my pocket, but I think a slightly larger screen might be just the ticket to make viewing apps and the web just that much easier.

    Like

  75. I think you and I might be twins that were separated at birth. I couldn’t have said it any better.

    Thanks

    Like