The first iPhone was groundbreaking and changed the game. Apple has tried to recapture that magic ever since 2007, but the iPhone 5 seems like a minor inline progression rather than a huge improvement.
iPhone 5 vs 4S (comparison)
The iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 are both amazing phones. The 4S was the best seller before the Samsung Galaxy S3 came along. The iPhone 5 got more than 5 million pre-orders in its first weekend, making it the fastest seller ever.
So these phones are competing with very small margins, as they are both on the same OS – iOS 6. This is the reason why many people aren’t bothering to upgrade from the 4S too.
iOS 6 has loads of new features, like Facebook integration, FaceTime 3G and Do Not Disturb. Apple Maps is rubbish, however, wringing apologies from Tim Cook. There are no iPhone 5 exclusive iOS 6 features, either, so the upgraded iPhone 4S has everything that iOS 6 has to offer.
On to design – the iPhone 5 has that classy two-tone glass and aluminum look. It’s also more drop-resistant – although scratches present a whole new problem as it is easily scuffed compared to the 4S.
The iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than the 4S, at 112g compared to 140g. It’s also 1.7mm thinner at 7.6mm. The screen is bigger – 4” and has a 1,136×640 resolution. This is good for films and browsing, and the phones have the same 326ppi.
The iPhone 5 aspect ratio is 16:9 compared to the previous 3:2, and this may be a problem for app developers. Some apps have to show a black bar at the top and bottom until they’re updated. At this time it is pretty much most of the apps since Apple didn’t give developers a heads up about the new iPhone 5.
Both phones have non-removable batteries and there’s still no SD card. They both come in 16, 32 and 64GB versions, and the iPhone 5 has 4G LTE support. A lot of people are annoyed about the new dock connector which needs a $30 adapter to keep old Apple accessories going.
The iPhone 5 has an 8MP camera with some improvements on the 4S, but these are quite subtle. It can take photos at the same time as recording HD video, and is great in low light.
The A6 chip is twice as fast as the 4S’ A5. The A5 chip is 1GHz and the A6 is 1.3GHz, which in real life is much faster. The iPhone 5 also has 1GB of RAM compared to the 512MB in the 4S.
The batteries are very similar – the 4S has a 1,432mAh and the iPhone 5 has a 1,440mAh. This means around 40 hours of music and eight hours of talktime (both iPhone models are about the same).
The better handset is obviously the iPhone 5, but this may not be good enough reason to buy it. The 4S runs well on iOS 6 and the LTE feature of the iPhone 5 isn’t that common outside of the US nor widespread locally unless you’re with Verizon. So the average consumer will soon find out that the upgrade from the 4S to the iPhone 5 is about that extra half inch on the screen, really. Furthermore the iPhone 5 has a couple of “features” that 4S owners may not take too kindly to. This includes the easier scuffing of the back plate, the purple lens flare and even the harsher vibrations given that Apple had to stick an older motor in the iPhone 5 due to space constraints.
So don’t go breaking your 2-year contract so fast unless you absolutely must have the bigger screen on the iPhone 5.