The 5 biggest disappointments of the iPhone 4S

The new iPhone 4S is here, but not everybody's happy about it. We run down some of the most-wanted iPhone 5 features that you won't find in the 4S.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read

The iPhone 4S may offer plenty of new features and improvements but a few key upgrades are missing. Apple

If you were among those who bet your office mates that Apple wouldn't come out with an iPhone 5 today, congratulations, give yourself a high five, you win. But if you were on the losing side of that bet and were sure Apple would unveil a truly new iPhone with a new chassis and a number 5 in the name somewhere, you're probably shaking your head a little.

That's it? The iPhone 4S? We waited these extra months for that?

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There is some good news. If you own an iPhone 4, you may be less tempted to upgrade and more willing to hold out for the true iPhone 5.

We know that for some Apple fans anything new is hard to resist, and a lot of you will probably want the iPhone 4S anyway. But maybe this quick roundup of what we missed will change your mind.

  • No new design: Yes, all that talk of a slimmer, teardrop-shaped iPhone 5 turns out to be a fantasy (at least for now). On the outside, the iPhone 4S looks the same as the iPhone 4 but it has upgraded guts. While plenty of people like the iPhone 4's design, people expect the latest and greatest gadget to look different from the previous version. The beauty here appears to be on the inside.

  • No larger screen: A lot of folks were hoping that Apple would move to a larger screen--like the ones found on competing Android models. There was even some talk that it didn't have to radically alter the design to add a larger 4-inch, "edge-to-edge" screen. But for better or worse the screen size remains the same.

  • No 4G: This was a biggie for a lot of people and will keep many iPhone 4 owners from upgrading. We thought the odds of a next-generation iPhone offering support for 4G LTE networks was at best a 50-50 proposition. Unfortunately--and not unexpectedly--the iPhone 4S came out on the short end of the 4G stick. If it's any consolation, the 4S does offer dual-mode HSPA+ and CDMA2000 compatibility, making it a world phone. And while it's now available for AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, it doesn't appear to be coming to T-Mobile.

  • No big leap in battery life: We know. We're asking a lot for a phone with a faster dual-core processor and graphics chip to improve on battery life, but the fact is, some people were hoping Apple could continue its trend of significantly improving battery life from generation to generation. While we won't pass final judgement until we run our own battery tests, the battery life of the 4S appears to be about the same as the iPhone 4's; Apple is saying it's slightly better, but it looks pretty even to us--on paper, anyway.

  • No one more thing: At the end of an Apple press conference, we're used to Steve Jobs pulling out that little extra gee-whiz feature that makes the Apple faithful swoon. That just wasn't here. Sure, Apple talked up its new voice-controlled Siri personal assistant and all the new features in iOS 5, but most of that stuff we knew about already. In this case, the press conference ended on a pretty flat note. A lot of people said to themselves, "That's it? That's all?" It felt a little like a concert where the band walks off without doing an encore.

Will any of these shortcomings prevent Apple from selling a gazillion iPhone 4Ses? Probably not. But we still thought we should take a moment to point them out.

Apple iPhone 4S (photos)

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If you think there are some iPhone 4S feature omissions we missed in this little roundup, please add them to the comment section below. Needless to say, if you're an Android fan, you can probably tick off a few (Micro-HDMI out, anyone?)