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It's very easy both to dismiss the iPhone 4S as being a boring souped up iPhone 4 and to rejoice in its improved specs while dismissing the lack of change in the chassis design as a meaningless whinge. However, the reality of the situation is far more nuanced.
While we agree that there's limited appeal in increasing the phone's overall size, there is room for it to be a tad wider and to use up some of the excessive bezel to fit a larger screen, without compromising too much on ergonomics. What's more, while the stark, angular glass design does have some advantages and puts most others to shame for build quality, it's not actually that practical. And, although on the performance front, Apple has given the iPhone 4S all it needs for the time being, new ground hasn't been broken on any front – there's still plenty of room to really go to town on the camera for instance.
There is of course Siri, which is a unique and impressive piece of software, but we simply don't feel it's very useful for the vast majority of people in the vast majority of everyday situations. In a car (dictating messages and setting reminders) or when you're working in an environment where you won't disturb people (or don't mind them hearing you're shopping list) we can see it being useful but until the whole system can be activated without requiring touch at all, it's only of so much benefit.
What's more, although iOS is still the slickest OS going, its limitations can't be denied; the lack of Flash is an issue (no matter how much you make excuses for it), not being able to do proper email attachments is a real bind, and there are plenty more little restrictions that are starting to feel just a little too un-smart. It all adds up to an easy experience but one that for more experienced users will feel too limiting – well, unless you jailbreak it of course.
But, the ultimate point is that it's precisely this tight, slick and sometimes limiting interface combined with competent hardware and a class-leading library of easily accessible apps that makes the iPhone so appealing. Yes, it's expensive and were we spending our own money, we'd probably look elsewhere for more of a bargain, but if you've got the cash and just want an easy life, there really isn't a better choice right now.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network