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iPhone 5 vs 4S: Not As Straightforward As You Think

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The Apple iPhone 5 is the newest iPhone to come out, and most people would think it’d be the best. This isn’t necessarily the case, though. We’re going to compare the iPhone 5 with its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, to look at each phone’s pros and cons.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S

The iPhone 5 had a slightly reworked design, with a larger display than the iPhone 4S, a faster chip, and LTE. These changes aren’t too big, though, and don’t represent a great departure from the 4S.

The iPhone 5 and the 4S are neck and neck with software and camera. The iPhone 5’s camera is improved, but it’s not that great a leap.

The redesign means that the iPhone 5 has an aluminium rear instead of glass. If you’ve had your iPhone 4S for a year or so, it’ll still look reasonably new because of its Gorilla Glass. The new aluminium back of the iPhone 5 is a bit of a disaster, as it’s very prone to scratching up. Metal is softer than glass, you see. We have a test iPhone 5 that’s a few weeks old, and we can see scratches on it already. It doesn’t look bad as such, but will age very rapidly.

The iPhone 5 is lighter than the 4S, and lighter than the Samsung Galaxy S3. This might not matter a jot to you. When the Galaxy S3 came out, though, we said that its lightness made it feel insubstantial and plasticky, as well as weak. So, it’d be wrong to say that the light iPhone 5 feels more luxurious and high-end than the 4S. It’s up to you, really.

The iPhone 5 is amazing, though, with a larger display that is 16:9. That extra half-inch makes a real difference. There’s a faster chip in the iPhone 5, but as iOS 6 runs a treat on the 4S, there’s not much to compare.

Then we have LTE, which you either like or you don’t. If you’re with Verizon or AT&T, then you’ll need an LTE-supported iPhone. If you’re on another network, it won’t matter, as decent LTE coverage might only get to us in time for the iPhone 6.

The cameras are level-pegging – you can only see the difference in side-by-side comparisons of photos. Even then, the difference is no great shakes.

What decided things for me was the screen size. The iPhone 5’s 4” screen seems like a great draw, but it costs $100 more than the 4S, and you don’t have the solidness and resilience of the 4S. The iPhone 5 also has a more primitive, harsher vibration motor, as Apple had to make some sacrifices to make the body smaller. There’s also no jailbreak solution yet. You also have to remember that while a 4” screen is big compared to the iPhone 4S’ 3.5” display, it’s still small compared to the average Android. The Nokia Lumia 920, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X+, which all cost around the same – or less – than the iPhone 5.

If you’re in no hurry to upgrade, wait for the iPhone 6 to come out. If you’re after upgrading now, go for the iPhone 4S, unless you want a bigger display and LTE. Most popular apps are now optimised for the 4” screen of the iPhone 5, but there are some still waiting.

You’ll pay as little as $47 for the iPhone 4S if you go to Walmart, and it’s still the country’s second-best seller, behind the Samsung Galaxy S3. The iPhone 5 is closing in though.

Dwayne is a jack of all trades. Not only is he an executive editor and collaborates on many stories here at Autoomobile, but he also does artwork and handles the running of the website on a daily basis. We’re not sure what we would do without Dwayne, especially on those days when we have a great scoop and our servers can’t handle the influx of traffic.