Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S

Introduction and Design

When the iPhone 4S was unveiled last year, feelings of disappointed started to engulf many people, as it turned out being nothing more than a revamped iPhone 4. Well, one year later, and the industry finally got what it wanted in the iPhone 5 – regarded by many as the biggest undertaking by Apple since the original back in 2007. Now that it’s finally here, we bet there are some iPhone 4S owners out there wondering whether it’s worth the investment to make the upgrade. Let’s take a peek, shall we?


Here’s the thing about these two beauties, they share the same foundational design DNA that was established with the iPhone 4 from a couple year ago. Despite the obvious that the iPhone 5 is longer, it’s remarkably lighter and skinnier than its predecessor, making it as comfortable to hold in the hand as the iPhone 4S. Plus, the iPhone 5’s brushed aluminum rear sports a cleaner overall look, as opposed to the glass surface of the iPhone 4S, which tends to exhibit more smudges. So yeah, the iPhone 5 has enough distinction over its predecessor to stand out more.

Being iPhone and all, it’s no surprise that we find the same recessed home buttons below their displays. However, the iPhone 5’s button has a springier response – whereas the iPhone 4S has a less pronounced response.

Taking a tour around the two handsets, they share many commonalities such as their separated circular-sized volume controls, mute switches, responsive power buttons, microphones, and internal speakers. However, as we know by now, the iPhone 5 ditches the 30-pin docking port of past iPhones, which the iPhone 4S obviously packs, in favor of a tinier proprietary Lightning docking port. Additionally, the two differ as the iPhone 5 now boasts a nano-SIM slot, as opposed to the micro one from before.

In terms of camera, the newer iPhone 5 benefits from a higher count 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, versus the 0.3-megapixel one on the iPhone 4S. And even though the two are flaunting the same sized 8-megapixel cameras with LED flash, the iPhone 5 is actually outfitted with a new backside illuminated sensor, a reworked lens, and a sapphire glass encasing the entire getup.


Now this is where it gets interesting, just because as we know, the iPhone 5 moves up to a larger 4-inch 640 x 1136 Retina Display – while the iPhone 4S sports a 3.5-inch 640 x 960 Retina Display, keeping the same 326 ppi. Conversely though, when it comes to color production, brightness output, and viewing angles, the iPhone 5 has the superior quality to make it the more compelling display. In fact, its colors are now  noticeably warmer, and about 44% more saturated. Furthermore, we notice that the iPhone 4S Retina Display displays more distortion at different viewing angles – whereas the iPhone 5 maintains its sharp clarity and is better looking in the direct sunlight.

Interface and Functionality:

Hmmm…let’s see what we’ve got here on these two beauties. Obviously, they’re both iPhones, and on top of that, they’re also running the same iOS 6 experience. So what does that mean folks? Without question, there’s no difference between the two experiences – since they’re identical. However, mainly due to the larger display of the iPhone 5, there’s an extra row of icons in the homescreen panel, which means that a single page can now contain more icons. Aside from that one distinguishable item, there’s nothing that separates the experience between the two.

Delving deeper with their core organizer apps, they’re much the same considering that the platform experiences are identical. Save for the added real estate of the iPhone 5, which enables for more things to be displayed on-screen and less scrolling, there’s nothing out of the ordinary with their functions. For example, the only advantage we find with things like email, is that the iPhone 5 can display more content than its predecessor.

In portrait, there’s not one that proves to be more helpful when it comes to typing up messages. In fact, their responsiveness and fantastic auto-correct features enable us to type away at a fanatical rate with few issues. Flipping them over to landscape, yes, the iPhone 5 has the more spacious layout, but it doesn’t particularly prove to be any more beneficial than the iPhone 4S’ offering.

Processor and Memory:

Apple has seemingly established the fact that it shouldn’t really matter if they explicitly mention the kinds of processors that are in use with their devices, mainly because the outcomes usually turn out the same. On one hand, the just released iPhone 5 packs a newer chipset in the form of a 1GHz dual-core Apple A6 processor with 1GB of RAM – while the iPhone 4S packs an 800MHz dual-core Apple A5 CPU coupled with 512MB of RAM. Therefore, it might seem like it’s a win for the iPhone 5 on paper, but in reality, their performances with most operations are the same – smooth, quick, and oh-so responsive. Even with processor intensive stuff, like playing 3D games, it’s rather difficult to say which device performs better. Well, as developers soon grasp the capabilities of the A6’s potential, we’ll probably see more games that’ll look better on the iPhone 5, but for right now, the iPhone 4S is still a formidable contender.

Sadly, we were hoping to see higher storage capacities with the iPhone 5, but instead, it follows in the same footsteps as its predecessor – meaning the two are available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities.

Internet and Connectivity:

Alright, so these two beauties cough up the same memorable web browsing experience with mobile Safari. From their smooth pinch zooming to their buttery kinetic scrolling, these two offer an astounding amount of finesse when it comes to perusing complex web pages. However, the advantage ultimately goes to the iPhone 5 because it’s rocking out to 4G LTE connectivity – so if you’re in an area that has coverage, you can expect blistering data speeds that leave the iPhone 4S trailing far behind.

Sharing pretty much the same cellular radios with one another, both of which are available in GSM and CDMA flavors, the only difference is that the iPhone 5 packs support for a variety of different LTE networks throughout the world. As for the other included connectivity goodies, they both feature aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot functionality.


When so much hype surrounded the iPhone 5’s improved camera quality, one would be inclined to believe that its quality would be far superior to its predecessor – without actually checking it out for themselves. After snapping the same shots between the two devices, we have to admit, there’s not much of a difference with shots taken with sufficient lighting present. In fact, details, color, and exposure appear to be almost identical with one another, and overall, they both take immaculate shots. And the same can be said about their panoramic shots as well. However,  we do notice slightly better results in lower lighting conditions with the iPhone 5, as it boasts details that are moderately sharper. Furthermore, its LED flash seems to work better as well, as it doesn’t produce the same vignetting effect we see with the iPhone 4S.

Likewise, the same can be said about the 1080p video recording qualities of both handsets. All in all, there’s a lot to like about their qualities, since they’re filled with detailed visuals, fast moving frame rates, and rich audio recording. As we meticulously look over the results, it’s undeniably tough to make a call on which device is better, but we only notice a small amount of artifacting with the iPhone 4S.

Apple iPhone 5 Sample Video:

Apple iPhone 4S Sample Video:

Lastly, we also checked out their front-facing cameras. More than likely due to its higher count 1.3-megapixel front-facing  camera, the iPhone 5 produces the better results – though, it’s still only passable for video chatting. Between the two, the iPhone 4S results appear more speckled in appearance.


Since the two are running iOS 6, it shouldn’t be a shock that their music players are identical to one another – so we won’t go into any more detail about it. Although the iPhone 5 seems to have a larger internal speaker, the quality isn’t any better than the iPhone 4S, as they both produce the same volume tones at their loudest settings. Pleasant as a whole, there’s no evidence of distortion with their output.

Now here’s an easy call on our part, mainly because the obvious is staring at us right away. Thanks to its larger display and richer color production, the iPhone 5 is the clear favorite for watching high definition videos – and it helps that its boasts a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Call Quality:

Clearly a win for the iPhone 5, Apple made some considerable improvements in the calling quality department over the iPhone 4S. Without a doubt, it’s the noise-cancellation feature that stands tall with the iPhone 5, as it’s able to quickly mute any wind noise to give our callers one noise-free experience on their end. Unfortunately for the iPhone 4S, its call quality is softened by choppy voices and background noise heard through the earpiece.


Using the Sprint versions of the iPhone 4S and 5, we don’t notice too much of a difference between the battery life of both devices – while using them strictly with 3G service. Of course, considering that the iPhone 5 is packing a larger display and slightly faster processor, we’re comforted to know that Apple is able to maintain its battery output, then again, 4G LTE is sure to drain it faster.


Sharing many commonalities between one another, it’s mostly physical attributes that separate the two – especially when the core platform experiences are identical. Being the new kid on the block, we’re absolutely taking a liking to the iPhone 5’s larger display, rock solid industrial design, 4G LTE connectivity, and better calling quality. However, it’s going to be a tough call to move up to the iPhone 5 if you’re currently an iPhone 4S owner, since those aforementioned items seem to be the main draws worth switching over for. In addition, if you happen to love taking a majority of photos in low lighting conditions, it might be beneficial as well to switch to the iPhone 5. However, if you don’t fancy its new redesign, larger display, or not located in an area with LTE connectivity, there’s not much of a compelling reason to switch.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S:

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