The iPhone 4S is nearly upon us, bringing with it the joys of iOS 5 on a dual-core processor, an updated camera and, in Siri, a voice command system that appears to be as intelligent as HAL from 2001.

And Pocket-lint has managed to get its hands on one to have a jolly good play prior to its launch this Friday (14 October) and therefore a chance to tell you what we think before we deliver you our full review.

First impressions count and, as is the case with the previous iPhone (partly because they look nearly identical), the iPhone 4S is just as exciting the first time you pick it up. It has that same meat to it that the last handset did, not overly heavy, but with just enough weight to make it feel like one solid chunk of technology. 

The glass front and back is as sweet as ever and the improved antenna band keeps the handset looking like just about the slickest mobile on the market. Sure, some may prefer the looks of the Galaxy S II or any of the other flagship competition, but there is no denying that Apple knows how to do it right in the design department. And with the iPhone 4S, it most definitely has.

The iPhone 4S is just 9.3mm deep by 115.2mm high and 58.6mm wide and it still feels as thin as it did when the iPhone 4 launched last year when compared to more modern rivals. It is a device that is just the right side of a size zero waistline, being compact but not so slim that it feels like something you will lose easily. The 140g weight also reminds you that it is still there and gives the handset that meaty feel we talked about earlier. 

The only real design change externally is with the antenna. We personally didn't experience any major death grip issues with our iPhone 4, but the decision to move the black line of the outer rim balances the handset out a bit more looks-wise, and also serves to eliminate reception issues as much as possible.

Apple has done quite a bit to up its game in the iPhone camera department with the 4S. The new handset features an f/2.4 8-megapixel camera capable of shooting 1080p video. From the pictures we took, albeit not that many and in bad light, we definitely noticed an improvement. The first thing is how much quicker it boots up, thanks to the new dual-core processor, but second is how much sharper and more balanced pictures look.

iphone 4s pictures and hands on image 13

Few phones can rival the quality that a compact can produce, no matter how entry-level the compact may be. Handsets like the Xperia Arc have come close but not much else has managed it... bar the iPhone 4S. The improved colour and sharpness means it looks like you could now use the handset as a totally viable and printable alternative to an entry level compact camera.

Siri is the real bread and butter of the iPhone 4S; it is the thing that makes the upgrade so much more exciting than just a faster processor. As much as we hoped Siri to have a Furby-like understanding of what we were asking it, instead it managed to cope with just about every conversational question we threw its way, including "what is the answer to life, the universe and everything?" It replied 42. Really.

Even obscure questions like city populations were answered quickly. We can't quite see it becoming an everyday occurrence that you ask your phone questions, and feels slightly odd, to be honest, but there is no doubt it speeds up the iOS 5 experience no end. 

So, just as the 3GS did before, from our initial quick fiddle, the iPhone 4S transforms its immediate predecessor into a handset that can rival its competition in the specs department, while adding new features, to boot. Maybe the lack of an iPhone 5 is not as disappointing as some have made out.

We'll be spending some quality time with the handset over the next few days, and will be bringing you our extensive and in-depth iPhone 4S review soon.

Like the look of the iPhone 4S? Let us know in the comments below...