iPhone 4 And 4S Vs. iPhone 5: Which One Is Best For You?

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iPhone 4 And 4S Vs. iPhone 5: Which One Is Best For You?

The iPhone 5 has already reached an extraordinary demand, with a highly anticipated release that reaped more than two million preorders (and back orders) within its initial 24 hours. In comparison, the iPhone 4S received approximately half as many preorders. But with only a year between the two iPhone models, is it really necessary or economically worth buying a new phone? What does the iPhone 5 have that the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 doesn't? Read on for a helpful comparison guide and decide on your own which iPhone model to keep, upgrade or purchase.


The iPhone 5 has a 4-inch (diagonal) screen, while the iPhone 4/4S both have a 3.5-inch (diagonal) screen. The change is in height, not width, so the iPhone 5 will still fit in and permit you to type with just one hand. This larger screen also enables an improved widescreen feature for the iPhone 5, making it ideal for checking out content, playing games and watching videos.

All three models use IPS-variant screens and have Retina display, a term coined by Apple that refers to an extremely high quality design of 326 pixels per inch. But, the iPhone 4/4S’s resolution has jumped from 960 by 640 pixels to 1136 by 640 pixels in the iPhone 5. Also, the iPhone 5 has 44 percent more saturated colors; yet, the brightness and contrast has stayed the same.

App lovers gain an extra row of icons on the iOS Home Screen. Don’t worry—your previously downloaded and paid for apps will work on the iPhone 5 with one irritating drawback:  Apps will be centralized on the bigger screen and greyed out on the sides. For some users, this view will be annoying and unattractive, and it might stay that way until developers redesign their products to fit within the larger screen.

Conclusion: If you use your cellphone to browse websites, read articles or watch videos, upgrade to the iPhone 5. The bigger screen size and the higher resolution are desirable elements and add some ease to the eyes.


Compared to the iPhone 4/4S’s dimensions of 115 by 59 by 9.3 mm thick, the iPhone 5 is larger but thinner at 124 by 59 by 7.6 mm thick. In terms of weight, the iPhone 4S is heavier at 140 g and the iPhone 4 at 137 g, compared to the iPhone 5 weighing in at 112 g.

Conclusion: Clearly, the iPhone 5 has grown in height but slimmed down in terms of depth and weight. It’s 18 percent thinner, 20 percent lighter and has 12 percent less volume than the 4. Nonetheless, the iPhone 4/4S are hardly bulky models, so the weight and dimensions should not be the focal reason behind upgrading your phone.

Camera For Photo/Video

The iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S still have the equivalent 8-megapixel camera and LED flash, along with features such as tap to focus, autofocus, backside illumination sensor, five-element lens, face detection, hybrid IR filter and a f/2.4 aperture. The iPhone 4 is a little behind with only a 5-megapixel camera and no face detection or hybrid IR filter.

A cool new panorama capture mode to shoot up to 240 degrees and an easy share photo stream function come with the iPhone 5, but you can upgrade an iPhone 4/4S/3GS to iOS 6 to obtain those same features. However, the iOS 6 upgrade unfortunately cannot give you the iPhone 5’s smaller camera lens that is 25 percent smaller in size than its predecessors. Other new features include a clear and durable sapphire lens cover and a dynamic “low-light mode,” which works two f-stops better in low lights and takes photos 40 percent faster.

In terms of video capabilities, the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S rear cameras possess the same 1080p quality, while the iPhone 4’s is 720p. On the other hand, the iPhone 5’s front camera has moved from off to the side to above the earpiece, and it has advanced from 480p to 720p for HD video with a backside illumination sensor. The iPhone 5 cameras also boast of an improved video stabilization; the multitasking function of taking still photos while recording video; and face detection during video.

Furthermore, the iPhone 5 has an addition of another microphone for a grand total of three (one on the front, one on the back and one on the bottom), compared to the iPhone 4S’s two microphones. More on the audio front for the iPhone 5: wideband audio, meaning better voice transmission and enhanced noise-cancellation.

Conclusion: The iPhone 5 has made quite a few changes to both its front and rear cameras. However, with the megapixel aptitude staying the same and the iPhone 5’s major camera updates available through the iOS 6 update, buying the new model for camera associated reasons isn’t truly essential—unless you intend to frequently film video with your cellphone.

Overall Speed

The iPhone 5 is unquestionably faster than its forerunners. In regards to processor performance, the iPhone 5’s new and powerful A6 chip is 22 percent smaller but reportedly twice as fast for graphics and tasks performed by the CPU (central processing unit), compared to the previously used dual-core A5 chip. The power-efficient A6 chip is designed completely by Apple and increases performance while also increasing battery life.

Moreover, the iPhone 5 features 4G LTE wireless service, enabling data downloads at almost 23 megabits per second. LTE networks are faster with a high-speed data capability, said to be approximately twice the speed of most at-home WI-FI connections.

Conclusion: If your older model is not as fast as you would like, you cannot go wrong with the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 is supposedly the fastest available smartphone available today.


The iPhone 5 includes Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 6. This updated system includes a multitude of new features, specifically a more knowledgeable Siri, Apple’s famous voice assistant and a Maps app that abandons the previous Google format and offers Apple’s own vector-based cartography.

Conversely, the iOS6 update was released shortly after iPhone 5’s release, available for free and also compatible with the iPhone 3Gs/4/4S, in addition to iPods and iPads.

Conclusion: Because the software updates are available for other iPhone models via IOS 6, the software undoubtedly should not be a deciding factor in upgrading to the iPhone 5. Be wary of the new Maps app, which is said to possess poor address location, subpar traffic reporting, missing public transit information and various other issues.

Dock Connector

One of the most prominent changes of the iPhone 5 is the new smaller “Lightning” eight-pin dock connector, replacing the standard 30-pin connector. The positive aspect of Lightning is that it enables the iPhone 5’s increased thinness and reduced weight. Moreover, Lightning is more all-digital, durable and reversible, making plugging in the cable much easier. Apple also says the new port allows for faster data transfer between phone and computer.

An obvious negative is the fact that iPhone 5 users must purchase new accessories, such as iPod/iPhone docks, players and car chargers, specifically compatible with this different sized port. Apple does offer a Lightning port adaptor at $29 to help mediate this concern, but it must be purchased separately.

Conclusion: Sure, having to purchase and use the Lightning adapter might be slightly annoying. But the previous connector was about a decade old, and perhaps the thinner size, lighter weight and faster data transfer make the change to Lightning wholly worth it. And although your iPhone 5 order unfortunately does not ship with a free adapter, it will come with a new, eight-pin compatible cable/connector that you can use freely.


With a two-year wireless contract, the iPhone 5 is available in 16GB from $199, 32GB from $299 and 64GB from $399. Meanwhile, the iPhone 4S’s price has dropped down to $99 for 16 GB, and the iPhone 4 is completely free—with a supplementary wireless service plan. Or, you can purchase an unlocked iPhone without a contract: $549 for 4S and $450 for the 4.

Conclusion: The element of price depends on your budget. Always check with your current wireless carrier to see if you are eligible for a reduced price on a new iPhone depending on account status. If you choose to upgrade, try selling your older model for some extra cash.

Apple will probably continue to release new versions of products each year. It’s up to you, the customer and consumer, to decide if these releases are not only newer, but more importantly, better. Weigh each iPhone model’s negatives and positives to make the most informed and smartest purchase.

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