As expected, the iPhone 4S has a dual-core processor, bringing it in-line with the iPad 2, which features a dual-core 1GHz ARM A9 CPU. Android smartphones are sure to beat the new iPhone in pure technical terms within the next six months, with the Google Nexus Prime set to offer a 1.4GHz dual-core CPU.
Smartphone processors are beginning to hit a wall, though, where the bottleneck in user experience is almost entirely down to software, not hardware. In the top-end at least.
A colleague noted the other day, as we chatted about the upcoming iPhone (as we’re sure many of you have), that the single-core 1GHz A4 chip inside the iPhone 4 is still pretty snappy, even though it’s technically trounced by many Androids. Gaming aside, the cutting edge of smartphone software rarely requires the most cutting edge of processors.
The Truth of Apps
Asking what the iPhone 4S could add to the iPhone series’s app scene is like trying to think of a present for the person who has everything. Aside from apps of dubious legality or precarious moral standing, the App Store has it all, and the iPhone 4S isn’t going to change that much.
Just like the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 before it, though, the iPhone 4S will incite a spurt of graphics-focused development from a handful of precocious developers. In the last round of graphical splurging, the most notable entries were Epic Citadel and its full game spin-off Infinity Blade – from Epic Games. It’s likely we’ll see similar feats, probably once again from Epic Games too, within the next 4-8 months.
As for Android? While there are a great many keen Android developers out there, making money from the platform is still a major problem – one that will take more than a handful of dual-core flagship phones to remedy. There’s a mindset issue within Android users, an unwillingness to pay – where plenty of iOS owners appear willing to fritter away 69p over and over again.
There are plenty of contributing factors – ropey Android Market navigation in most handsets, frequently tricky payment and a lack of a central nav space like iTunes, are but three factors (and no, the Android Market website isn’t much of a mitigation). The iPhone 4S doesn’t do anything to rock the app scene boat – other than pushing older iPhone iterations closer to obsolescence – but its minor upgrades will keep it ticking along nicely, ahead of Android.
Storage and Flexibility
The iPhone 4S doesn’t drastically alter the approach previous Android have taken. There’s no Mass Storage mode, and just the usual proprietary jack to connect to a PC. However, iOS 5 will loosen the restraints placed on the smartphone somewhat.
It removes the need to be connected to a PC to upgrade software, and lets you perform the initial iPhone setup without a computer too. All this is fairly standard fare on Android, but it’s a big step for the traditionally hamstrung iPhone range.
The iPhone 4S also sees the introduction of a 64GB model, offering more built-in internal memory than any other current Android phone. It won’t come cheap though, as you might expect.
Some manufacturers, like Samsung with its Android-powered Galaxy Tab 10.1, have shown signs of adopting the Apple approach to storage, but while there are those that don’t, Android will still have the upper hand in storage terms.