To be frank, parents with kids under the age of six of this age spend a great deal of time marveling at each amazing new feat or silly moment of their children and scrambling to record it. They then try to post it on Facebook so that everyone else can marvel in turn (though no doubt much less so). A decent camera phone is the perfect tool for parents like us, since rather than having to go running for the camera, you just take it out of your pocket, snap the shot, and then upload.
Or so you hope. For roughly the last two and a half years, I have been running around with an iPhone 3GS in my pocket, and while it packed some impressive features (most notably video capture), its limited camera quality and occasionally sluggish behavior had me wishing for more.
Having now spent 24 hours with my new iPhone 4S, I have confirmed my suspicions: it is the perfect camera phone for parents with small children.
Don’t Miss the Shot!
You’d think that having a camera in your pocket would mean you would never miss a shot, but kids don’t hold poses for long. In the time it takes you to get the phone out of your pocket, turn it on, switch out of whatever app you happened to be running, find the camera app, and then wait for the camera to initialize, your kid has been distracted by something else. I can’t count how many shots I’ve missed waiting for the camera on my 3GS to finally activate.
The beauty of the iPhone 4S is that the camera is super-fast. It’s ready to take a shot within a second or two of the camera application opening, and with the modification in iOS 5 of having the camera button available on the lock screen (you have to double-press the home button), you can be ready to take a shot in under four seconds.
Parents spend a lot of time in playgrounds, and this can lead to some challenging situations for taking photographs. You can’t control where the playground equipment is, so many times you find yourself being forced to shoot into the sun, leading to loss of detail. You also find yourself shooting late in the afternoon when the sun is setting, creating deep shadows mixed with bright areas.
While my 3GS would generate useless pictures of bright spots surrounding smudges of subjects, the 4S is performing beautifully in these tough situations. The bright sunlight is still there, but all of the detail in the darker areas is still clearly visible and well colored:
High Quality Video
The 3GS was a breakthrough in its ability to take video, but the quality was limited. It was certainly enough for sharing on Facebook, but if you tried to use them for much else, they ended up being pretty grainy and poorly lit.
The 4S video is a hugh leap forward. The video is clear and crisp with excellent color, really allowing you to capture those moments where a still photograph just doesn’t tell the whole story:
Look, No Hands!
Aside from a great camera, the new voice recognition assistant “Siri” shows great promise for parents. When trying to herd two small children out the door, one thing that is often in short supply is an extra hand. While it would be nice to send my wife a quick text message to let her know where we are, it often isn’t feasible to stop, open up the Message application, and type out a text message. Your eyes and attention need to be on the kids. I already discovered to great advantage today how easily I was able to send a text message just using my voice while keeping my focus elsewhere.
This has the potential to be really useful.