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Apple’s iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 4S vs. iPhone 4

2 October 2012 One Comment

Not so long ago Apple made the biggest change in its iPhones by finally hearing the requests of the geeks all over the world and making the iPhone 5… bigger. The old iPhones had 3.5-inch screens, and perhaps that was a good size back in 2007-2010, but since 2011, people prefer 4-inch and bigger screens, and now Apple has finally made an iPhone that meets this demand.

Of course, the bigger screen wasn’t the only thing updated in the new iPhone 5. It was redesigned, too, getting an aluminum body instead of the vulnerable glass that was used in the iPhone 4S, so it became much lighter and shatterproof.

Let’s now see what else was changed in the new iPhone 5. Do these changes make Apple’s new phone more competitive on the market?

Display

As I’ve mentioned above, the iPhone 5 now has a bigger display. Unfortunately, it’s not as big as that of Samsung’s famous Galaxy S2 or S3, but we have to admit that getting rid of the old 3.5 inches and making a 4-inch screen was a step forward for Apple, at least the display now holds 5 rows of apps instead of 4. On the other hand, the screen lost in pixel density after getting bigger – the resolution of the displays of the iPhone 4 and 4S was 640 x 960 pixels, and the iPhone 5’s is 640 x 1136, providing worse pixel density at 326 ppi against 330 ppi. However, this difference is too small, and human eyes won’t notice it at all.

OS

The iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6 pre-installed, while both old iPhones have iOS 5 on board. Apple managed to make many useful improvements in the new iOS, but many bugs remained unfixed. Among the nice improvements we can mention the Safari browser, which works very fast and comes with the new iCloud Tabs feature that allows keeping tabs in sync across all devices. There’s also a new photo sharing feature (Shared Photo Stream), updated Notification Center and video chat (which isn’t much used, however). As for Siri, she can now make a restaurant reservation, tell you sports games scores and understand your speech even better.

Apple’s new iOS 6 has a number of advantages over iOS 5 and seems to be a good platform overall, but many geeks agree that it can’t beat the latest version of Google’s Android known as Jelly Bean.

Battery

All three iPhones have similar batteries with slight differences, the one on the old iPhone 4 being the best among them. Don’t be surprised! The fourth generation iPhone has weaker features and a smaller screen, so its 1420mAh battery provides even better talk- and stand-by time than that of the iPhone 5. Perhaps Apple should have armed its new flagship with a more powerful battery, but even with this one, ~8 hours of talk-time and 225 hours of stand-by are enough for most users, even if it’s not a big improvement over the older iPhones.

Hardware

In terms of hardware, the iPhone 5 is much ahead of Apple’s older devices, coming with a dual-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz against the dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 of the iPhone 4S and the even worse single-core 1000 MHz CPU of the iPhone 4. The amount of RAM in the iPhone 5 is twice bigger than in its predecessors – 1GB against 512MB, which also ensures flawless performance.

By the way, none of the iPhones has any SD slots, which is a big disadvantage for all of them. Most geeks thought Apple would add a microSD slot in the iPhone 5, but alas.

Camera

The iPhone 4 has a 5MP camera, but both the 4S and the 5 come with 8MP ones, with the same LED flash, the same aperture size of F2.4 and the ability to shoot 1920 x 1080 pics. However, the camera of the iPhone 5 has a number of additional features like High Dynamic Range mode (HDR), plus it makes better panoramic images, so it has definitely been improved since the 4S.

Price

The price of the new iPhone 5 is perhaps its biggest problem. The SIM-free iPhone 4 can be bought for about £250 (~$400); its successor is sold for about £340 (~$550), while the iPhone 5 costs about £650-700 ($1000+), which seems to be too expensive for a phone that doesn’t have too many improvements over its older versions. Even in the UK where almost all high-end smartphones come for free on 2-year contracts, the iPhone 5 is sold for £150 (~$240) via some mobile operators. Of course, there are free offers, too, but the monthly fees are rather high – the cheapest O2 deals start from £46 (~$75) per month, and the other operators have even higher prices. Even Samsung’s Galaxy S3, which is thought to be the best phone on the market, costs less.

Verdict

The Apple iPhone 5 has a number of improvements (including a bigger display, a better camera, updated Siri and others) over the older iPhones, which make it quite a decent device. But does this mean it is cool enough to be paid £650-700 for? Well, if you’re going to buy your first smartphone after using a feature phone for a long time, or if you’re an Apple fan, the iPhone 5 will definitely be a better choice than any of its predecessors (if you can afford it of course!). But the truth is – the iPhone 5 isn’t the best phone on the market. So if you already own a high-end Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S2/S3 or Nokia’s Windows Phone-based Lumia phones, don’t bother thinking of buying the new iPhone.

One Comment »

  • Chris said:

    I am struggling with myself…. Are these improvements really worth upgrading from my 4S to iPhone 5? I think I will have to try a friends iPhone 5 to make my decision…

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