Apple iPhone 4S: what's new for business travellers?

By David Flynn, October 5 2011
Apple iPhone 4S: what's new for business travellers?

Apple's newest iPhone will touch down in Australia on October 14, but it's not the iPhone 5. The fifth-gen iPhone failed to materialise at Apple's overnight launch in Silicon Valley, with the company instead unveilling a pepped-up version of the iPhone 4 dubbed the iPhone 4S.

And sure, the iPhone 4S has plenty of natty features – but what's the executive summary for the busy business traveller? Should you step up from your iPhone 4, or stay put for another generation in the iPhone family?

Australian Business Traveller suggests sticking with your iPhone 4, but closely considering an upgrade from the iPhone 3GS – a move that will be made more tempting as early buyers of the iPhone 3GS are exiting two-year contracts which may have locked them into networks with slow speed and limited coverage.

(There's still going to be the 'iPhone 5 factor' hanging around – this will be the next big leap forward, potentially running on new superfast 4G networks, but are you prepared to wait for 6-12 months to find out?)

Here's our list of what's new and notable in the iPhone 4S for business travellers.

iOS 5 and iCloud

This 'dynamic duo' of the iPhone world has plenty of appeal for business travellers, as we've detailed here – but it's also going to be available for your iPhone 4 or 3GS, and it'll be free. So while being a no-brainer, it's also no reason to stump up for the iPhone 4S.

'Siri' personal assistant

This much-touted voice assistant makes its debut in the iPhone 4S.

The theory: you can make simple requests in plain language, such as "Where's the nearest Westpac ATM?" or "How's the Aussie dollar versus the Euro?", as well as ask the iPhone to set a reminder or send a text message, and 'Siri' will not only respond in plain language but manage those tasks for you.

The real world: it remains to be seen how effective Siri is, despite Apple's assurances that it will support 'Australian English', as well as how practically useful this is on a daily basis.

Use your smarts and let somebody else be the guinea pig.

Faster network performance

Apple has also revved up the 3G speeds of the iPhone 4S, stepping up to the 14.4Mbps HSDPA technology used by all Australian mobile networks. By comparison, the iPhone 4 and 3GS are capped at 7.2 Mbps for downloads.

Once again, you'll want your mobile network to take full advantage of this.

But if you're thinking of using the iPhone 4S as a 3G-to-wifi hotspot to provide your laptop with high-speed Internet access (here's how to do that), the speeds you get on the notebook won't be anywhere near the peak data rate.

As we noted during our recent Qantas airport lounge wireless speed test, even an iPhone 4 tapping into Telstra's hot-to-trot Next G network averaged only 2.5Mbps for the laptop connection – but hooking up a Telstra Ultimate USB modem to the notebook saw speeds catapult to 12Mbps.

The take-out? If you're a road warrior who's serious about enjoying high-speed internet on the go, you should be running a USB 3G modem instead of any iPhone.

Faster processor

The iPhone 4S packs a new 'dual-core' processor – similar in design to the twin-engine Intel processors found in almost all laptop and desktop PCs and Macs – so it'll be faster to launch and switch between apps and web pages, with the added bonus of more intensive gaming for downtime.

But these faster-faster changes are just part of the playbook for today's tech – of course any next-gen device will be quicker than its predecessor. The question is, has anybody complained that the iPhone 4 isn't fast enough?

On the other hand, if you're using an iPhone 3GS, this could almost be a deal-breaker – provided your chosen mobile network can keep its part of the deal and load those web pages almost as quickly as the iPhone 4S can open its browser, otherwise the experience will likely prove more frustrating.

Those are our thoughts on the iPhone 4S. What are yours? Did you expect more, and will you wait for the iPhone 5 – or are you going to upgrade to the 4S (and if so, why)?


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

Bit of a disappointing update I think... Great summary though! Just wondering if in your Telstra tethering test you tried connecting the iPhone to the computer using a USB cable and which end of the scale that lies at? 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Didn't do the cable tether, should try that!

07 Oct 2011

Total posts 1

Really bad assessment, no detail, doesnt deal with the detail of the phone.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Sirrch: there's no end of iPhone 4S stories and websites at launch that dove super-deep into details, so our focus was to cut through all the the specs, features, analysis and hype and present a view of what was in the iPhone 4S for our readers - ie, Australian business travellers. I think we've covered the key relevant elements in this article, but always interested to hear your suggestions as to what else should have been there and why that's relevant to the biz traveller.

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