iPhone 4S: Farhad Manjoo Chats with Slate Readers

Farhad Manjoo Chats with Slate Readers about the iPhone 4S

Farhad Manjoo Chats with Slate Readers about the iPhone 4S

Innovation, the Internet, gadgets, and more.
Oct. 4 2011 3:58 PM

Hey, iPhone 4S! Why Are You Such a Letdown?

Farhad Manjoo and Slate readers discuss the release of Apple’s latest iPhone.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the event introducing the new iPhone 4s
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the event introducing the new iPhone 4s.

Photograph by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Slate technology correspondent Farhad Manjoo was on our Facebook page to chat with readers about Apple’s iPhone 4S announcement. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Farhad Manjoo: Hi Everyone. I'm Farhad Manjoo, Slate's technology columnist. The Apple event is just starting. At this point, it seems like we're getting a new iPhone that looks exactly like the old iPhone. It's (supposedly) called the iPhone 4S, not iPhone 5. Seem like a letdown to you? Tell me what you think, and let's talk.

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Chris Barker: That does seem like a letdown. The cynic in me wants to think Jobs pawned this off on purpose, knowing it would disappoint.

John Holz III: Jeez, we've been hearing about the teardrop design for weeks now, and it's not even happening? Wow. I didn't get the iPhone 4 because I thought the brick design was a huge step back

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Farhad Manjoo:
Rumors suggest the iPhone 4 will sport a new voice assistant feature. Maybe we'll be able to ask it whether we should buy the new phone...

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Sarah Lester Shimanek: Couldn't a software upgrade support voice assistant capabilities on the existing iPhone?

Farhad Manjoo: Sarah—yes, perhaps. It may need a faster processor to work. More likely, they'll keep it on the 4S to give you a reason to upgrade.

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Jon Lutz: I thought they'd come out with bigger guns, since Steve is gone, I thought they'd want to bring Tim out to the public with a big announcement.

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Jorge Paiva: BOOOO BOOOOOO quadruple BOOOO.

Farhad Manjoo: Jon—what were you hoping for?

Jon Lutz: I love the iPhone and don't really know how they could improve it physically. But I suppose the mockups of the iPhone 5 that have been floating around look cool.

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Jeff Karl:
The Apple store's servers now have a Sprint logo on them-so that is promising for those of us on Sprint...

Farhad Manjoo: Yes. Word is that Sprint signed a major deal with Apple, guaranteeing $20 billion in sales. So now the iPhone will be on three American carriers.

Farhad Manjoo: Meanwhile, at the Apple event, CEO Tim Cook is talking about Macs ...

Sarah Lester Shimanek: How's Tim doing?

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Jeff Karl: The NY Times claims he's "smooth, totally on his game."


Cory MacDonald:
I still have the iphone 3G I got three years ago and am ready to upgrade. My main concern with this being a 4S is that I do not want to upgrade and find out the real big new phone is coming out in 6 months or something. I'm in Canada, land of 3 year contracts.

Farhad Manjoo: Cory, that won't happen. You'll have a year, at least, before the 4S is outmoded.

Cory MacDonald: ‎@Farhad— even still. I just don't want to miss out on a particularly revolutionary jump to the 5 given the length of my contract. Probably no other choice though. Sigh.

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Farhad Manjoo:
First announcement: A new app called Cards. Take a photo, Apple will mail out postcard for you. But that app exists already—it's called Postagram.

Sean Carlson: Farhad—will you and Slate be providing this level of hype/coverage and live-blogging the release of the upcoming Nexus Prime?

Farhad Manjoo: Sean: No, we won't. It'd be easier to hold an in-person meetup with everyone who's interested in the Nexus Prime.

Gadi Ben-Yehuda: re: in-person meetings. This from the man who penned a hagiography for the Windows phone? :)

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Farhad Manjoo: It's true, I should have held a meetup for that, too. Would need to find a studio apartment.

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Dan Bock:
They're introducing a lot of features that Android has had for years and making them sound new.

Farhad Manjoo: Dan, it's not features that matter. It's how those features work.

Farhad Manjoo: Update: So far, this is a tremendously newsless news event.

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Cory MacDonald: It's all Tim's selfless attempt to further deify Steve Jobs by making us miss him intensely.

Farhad Manjoo: An hour into this, they're talking about the iPhone....

Mark DeWitt: Sorry @Cory. 4S for you. Gotta wait another year.

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Dan Bock:
They compared Mac's market share to PCs because comparing installed base would show how many more PCs there are out there. Then they compared iPhone's installed base to other smartphones, because comparing market share would show how much faster Android is growing. Tricky!

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Farhad Manjoo: Right, Dan. The best comparison is profits: Apple's > everyone else's.

Mark DeWitt: one more thing? Gotta admit it’s not the market-share reclaiming mega-smash we were hoping for.

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Farhad Manjoo:
Schiller says battery life is better than iPhone 4. We'll see.

Brooke Bailey: The iPad 2 is dual core and the battery life is unbelievable. I only charge it once a week. That's with light use but that's still amazing.

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Farhad Manjoo: They say that with new wireless system, the phone gets speeds comparable to "4G."

Brooke Bailey: Farhad, how do you tweet, Facebook, and pay attention to the conference. That's impressive.

Farhad Manjoo: Tabs!

David Snead: Note the "4G" phones are AT&T HSPA+ phones, not comparing speeds from Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon devices that connect at faster speeds.  Pick the slowest user of the "4G" term and say your phone is as fast as "4G"? Kinda like targeting the slowest/least agile kid in dodge-ball.

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Farhad Manjoo:
And now there's an 8 MP camera instead of 5 MP

Farhad Manjoo: Camera will shoot 1080P HD video.

Dave Fox: What a disappointment. With all of the successful Android phones, and with Apple waiting 18 months to introduce this phone, one would think it would be a substantial upgrade. It's as if all the great Android phones, and now the new Windows phone, are not of any concern. Thankfully, I'm not due on an upgrade on iPhone 4 until next summer. Meh

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Scott Cole: My take: Apple is saving its new product juice for next year when it might actually need it. They don't need the numbers this year, since they've already blown it out. Disappointing, but understandable.

Stan Horwitz: Considering that Apple is still selling the iPhone 4 like hotcakes, I am not surprised they are offering only an incremental update in the iPhone 4S.

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Farhad Manjoo: They're starting to talk about the voice-assist feature

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Mark DeWitt: heard this assistant thing is supposed to be neat. Speaking to machines = creepy.

Dan Bock: Have they figured out a way not to look foolish while speaking search terms into your phone? That's what keeps me from using my phone's voice recognition feature.

Farhad Manjoo: Dan—no, they haven't. Remains a big problem.

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Casey Martin: Is Siri the new Clippy?! Sweeeeet!

Farhad Manjoo: Casey—it could well be.

Farhad Manjoo: Prices remain the same: Cheapest 4S is $199 with two year contract.

Farhad Manjoo: Launches Oct. 14th

Farhad Manjoo: He just announced it will be on Sprint.

Sarah Lester Shimanek: Eh, this was an incredibly disappointing roll-out. Yeah, some of the stuff looks cool, but nothing feels like it would change your everyday use of the device, unless you really get into the voice assist feature. I do like the idea of image stabilization on the camera, but who knows how well it actually works. And it's definitely not a reason to upgrade. I'll definitely be waiting another generation (or two... or three) before I consider it.

Farhad Manjoo: OK, that's it, folks! New iPhone is 4S. You can ask it questions. My first one will be, Hey, why are you such a letdown? Thanks for chatting!