Following Apple's Let's Talk iPhone event, several members of the media were able to do brief initial hands-on reviews of the new iPhone 4S. Here's what they had to say:
Overall, the power of the iPhone 4S is impressive. Being able to use apps like Siri will be fun, but we’ll have to wait to see what coverage and call quality are like. - Jim Dalrymple of The Loop
Apple's new smartphone has a dual-core A5 CPU, an 8-megapixel still camera, a 1080p video camera, and of course, iOS 5. What does all this mean to the average user? We will have to get it into PC Labs before we issue a judgment, but in the short time I spent with the iPhone 4S, it seems like an improved version of an already very solid smartphone. - Dan Costa of PC Mag
Much in the same way that the 3GS improved the overall experience of the 3G, the 4S does likewise compared to the existing 4. The dual-core A5 chip is a laudatory improvement, and whisking about pages, loading the camera application and launching -- well, just about everything -- just feels zippier. As it should. The other major change, the antennas, weren't readily different at a glance, but as Mr. Cook stated, you'd have to be iFixit to notice (and we're sure they will). - Darren Murph of Engadget
In the hand it may feel like the same device, but in practice the “S” in 4S could easily stand for “Speed.” Now with the dual-core 1GHz Apple A5 inside, with what is claimed to be 2x the performance and 7x the graphics speed of the iPhone 4, it’s all round a faster phone. Navigating between apps has never been slow, but there’s literally no lag to be found. Webpages rendered instantly, while pinch-zooming was silky smooth. - Vincent Nguyen of SlashGear
The story with the iPhone 4S is obviously all about the software, and while you might be bummed about not seeing a major external hardware revision, you should know that Apple has introduced some serious new features into the language of the iPhone. - Joshua Topolsky of This is my next/The Verge
In aggregate, the casing is the same, the new A5 processor is fast, the camera is great, and Siri is very impressive.