Nerd Chicks Adventures: iPhone 4s offers significant upgrades - Record

Editor’s note: Andrea Eldridge wrote this week’s column.

There are certain things in “Nerd Land” that make my husband giddy: the release of a new Call of Duty game for Xbox, a well-done Star Wars spoof or an announcement of a new product or upgrade from Apple.

He’s what I lovingly refer to as an Apple fan-boy. The release of the new iPhone 4s led to a near instant debate of how he could get it soonest; wait in line at the store or pre-order? Meanwhile, I shook my head and wondered, is it really all that different from the iPhone 4?

Many people expected that Apple would be releasing an iPhone 5. Apparently the method behind Apple’s naming of the phone is that the full number upgrades are reserved for a more revolutionary design upgrade, typically involving a significant change to the way the phone looks and works.

In the meantime, the iPhone 4s looks identical to the iPhone 4 and is still only capable of running at 3G speeds, unable to take advantage of better 4G speed and data access available in many large cities. However, when all is said and done there are some great upgrades to the phone’s performance.

It’s twice as fast as the iPhone 4, so programs will launch faster. The graphics chip is seven times faster than the old one, allowing you to play games that look as good as an Xbox 360 or Playstation3. My favorite “upgrade” is that iPhones are now available through all major carriers (ATT, Verizon and Sprint), but technically that’s not specific to the iPhone 4s.

Most of the buzz surrounding the iPhone 4s is around Siri, the new integrated speech recognition tool. It allows you to be more conversational in what you ask or tell your phone to do.

For example, you can ask it the weather in Portland and it will know to launch a weather application with the weekly forecast for Portland. If you then ask it, “Are there any good Italian restaurants?” it will pull you a list of Italian restaurants in Portland, ordered by their ratings from sites like Yelp.

It promises that you can speak normally, such as, “Tell my wife I’m on my way,” and Siri will determine which apps to use and who you’re talking about. It knows where you live, where you work, and determines where you are using GPS. It’s more intuitive than traditional voice recognition, though I have to say listening to my husband try to have a conversation with his phone makes me chuckle.

Another cool feature is that the iPhone 4s now supports Airplay so that you can wirelessly display what’s on your phone on your TV or monitor (with the addition of an Apple TV so your home theater can recognize the input). This can be great for watching movies, showing off the photos you took with the improved camera, or even playing a few rounds of Angry Birds Rio on the big screen. Speaking of the camera, it now sports 8 megapixels and is easier to get to, so no more missing the shot while you fumble with unlocking your phone and finding the camera app. It shoots video in 1080p (high resolution), and a new stabilization feature takes some of the wobbly out of your videos.

Finally, the phone comes pre-loaded with Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS5. While users of older iPhones can install the new OS and access many of the new features, like the cool Find my Friends app, iCloud auto-synch, and improved calendar notification options, it’s going to take a hefty download and may not work well on older models. While it’s a great phone, I wouldn’t rush out to upgrade your iPhone 4. If you have an older version and are due to upgrade, lucky you!

If you took the plunge and got the new iPhone but aren’t sure you’re getting everything out of it, drop us a note on Facebook ( or email us at [email protected] for more insights into the new features.

Nerd Chicks Adventures is written by Andrea Eldridge and Heather Neal from Nerds on Call, a computer service company in Redding. They can be reached at [email protected]

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