iPhone 4S Hardware and Software Features

iPhone 4S
image credit: Apple Inc.

Announced: Oct. 4, 2011
Released: Oct. 14, 2011
Discontinued: Sept. 9, 2014

When the iPhone 4S debuted, it was more notable for its software features than its hardware. The hardware offered incremental improvements in the expected areas—a faster processor, a better camera, improved quality for video recording—but it was the software that got all the headlines.

That's because Siri, iMessage, Notification Center, and iCloud debuted along with the iPhone 4S (Siri was, at that time, an exclusive feature of the 4S, while the other features were part of iOS 5, which came with the 4S).

These features have gone on to become fundamental parts of the iOS and Mac ecosystems across a range of Apple devices. 

The iPhone 4S was also the first iPhone to work officially on the Sprint network.

iPhone 4S Software Features

The most significant software additions to debut on the 4S include:

iPhone 4S Hardware Features

The notable changes in the hardware features of the iPhone 4S were:

  • Apple A5 processor, the same processor used in the iPad 2, which Apple says will make the iPhone 4S about twice as fast as the iPhone 4
  • New dual-core graphics chip, which Apple touts as providing graphics performance up to 7 times faster the iPhone 4
  • GSM and CDMA compatibility in a single phone, meaning that the same phone will work on both kinds of networks, rather than requiring separate devices for AT&T and Verizon networks, as the previous model did
  • Two antennas which work independently, to improve call quality and reliability
  • Improved data speed, at up to 14.4 Mbps download (HSDPA)
  • 8-megapixel camera, with improved color fidelity and sharpness, better whites, a new light sensor, faster speed in taking both the first photo and subsequent ones
  • 1080p HD video recording with image stabilization.

    iPhone 4S Capacity 

    16 GB 
    32 GB 
    64 GB 

    iPhone 4S Battery Life

    Voice Calls

    • 8 hours 3G
    • 14 hours 2G


    • 6 hours 3G use
    • 9 hours Wi-Fi use


    • 10 hours


    • 40 hours


    • 200 hours standby

    U.S. Carriers





    4.5 tall by 2.31 wide by 0.37 deep, in inches


    4.9 ounces


    Release date: Oct. 14, 2011 in
    United Kingdom

    The phone debuted on Oct. 28 in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lativa, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. A number of other countries got the phone by the end of 2011.

    The Fate of Previous iPhone Models

    Unlike in the past, when the introduction of a new model meant the previous one was discontinued, both the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 were still sold for some time after the release of the 4S. The 8GB iPhone 3GS sold for $0.99 with a two-year contract, while the 8GB iPhone 4 was $99 with a two-year contract. The 3GS was discontinued in Sept. 2012, while the 4 survived until early 2014.

    Critical Reception of the iPhone 4S

    Upon its release, the 4S was greeted with enthusiastic reviews from much of the tech press.

    A sampling of these reviews includes:

    iPhone 4S Sales

    The iPhone 4S was at the heart of a huge explosion in iPhone sales. In March 2011, about 6 months before the 4S debuted, Apple had sold around 108 million iPhones all time.

    Two years later in November 2013, that figure had expanded to over 420 million iPhones.

    The iPhone 4S wasn't the only iPhone for sale in that time. As noted above, the 3GS and 4 were still sold after the 4S debuted, and the iPhone 5 was introduced in Sept. 2012. Still, the 4S was popular enough that it wasn't officially discontinued until 2014, nearly three full years after its release.