iPhone 5 vs 4S: Don’t Bother Upgrading

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The first iPhone changed the entire game back in 2007, and Apple has been trying to recapture that magic. However, the iPhone 5 feels more like a minor inline step rather than a revolution.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S review

Both the iPhone 5 and 4S are amazing phones, with the 4S being the best seller until ousted by the Samsung Galaxy S3. The iPhone 5 then got 5 million pre-orders in the first 72 hours, which will likely have it reclaim the fastest-seller spot before the year is up.

The iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 are competing along very narrow margins, as they’re both on iOS 6. This is also one of the reasons that many people aren’t upgrading from the 4S.

This new OS has lots of amazing features – FaceTime 3G, Do Not Disturb and Facebook integration. Apple Maps is utter garbage, and Tim Cook has apologised. There are, however, no iPhone 5 exclusive features on iOS 6, so an updated 4S has got everything an iPhone 5 has in terms of software.

The iPhone 5 has retained the classy two-tone glass and aluminium body that we’ve all grown to love. The 5 is also more drop-resistant, although it scuffs up a treat because of the use of aluminum in the rear instead of all-glass like the 4S. So you may need to slap a cover on this one.

The iPhone 5 is slimmer and lighter than the 4S – 112g compared to 140g and 1.7mm thinner at 7.6mm. The screen is 0.5” bigger at 4”, and there’s a 1,136x640p resolution. This is handy for browsing and watching films, although both phones have the same ppi.

The A6 chip in the iPhone 5 is twice as fast as the A5 in the 4S. The A5 was 1GHz, and the A6 is 1.3GHz, which is a lot faster than it may sound. There’s also 1GB of RAM, up from the meager 512MB.

Neither phone has a removable battery – or an SD card. There are 16, 32 and 64GB versions, but the iPhone 5 has LTE. The new dock connector has angered many, as they’ll have to buy a $30 adapter to use all their old Apple accessories. But be warned, just because you buy an adapter doesn’t mean it will make your old accessories. I for one couldn’t get mine to work with the Sony sound bar as the shape was incompatible.

The iPhone 5 camera is still 8MP, but there are some improvements, albeit subtle. It can take HD vids at the same time as still images, and it’s a real low light performer. However to the naked eye, both the pictures are difficult to differentiate.

The iPhone 5 aspect ratio has changed from 3:2 to 16:9, which might be a problem for app developers, as some apps will have to display black bars at the ends of the screen until (and if) they get updated. This will include most of Apple’s apps, as developers weren’t told about the screen change early enough.

The battery has had a minimal improvement – up from 1,432mAh to 1,440mAh meaning around 40 hours of music and eight hours of talk on both. In the real world tests however we found the iPhone 5 fall behind the 4S when it came to talktime and web browsing time.

It’s obvious that the iPhone 5 is the better phone – but not by a massive margin, and this might not be reason enough to buy it. The 4S is doing well on iOS 6, and LTE isn’t widespread outside of the US yet, and in the US it’s mainly with Verizon. In reality, most Apple fans upgrading to the iPhone 5 will be getting an extra half-inch of screenage – as well as the dreaded purple lens flare and rougher vibrations (Apple had to insert an older motor because of space constraints).

So, unless you really want that slightly bigger screen, stay in your two-year contract and wait to see what the iPhone 5S is like.

Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, PC, iPhone and Android games keep Berke busy at work all day. Honestly though we’re not sure why we’re paying him as it should be the other way around.