Apple iPhone 4S vs Apple iPhone 4

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It’s out with the old and in with the new as the Apple iPhone 4S goes head to head with its predecessor the Apple iPhone 4. But which is the best? T3 finds out…

Apple iPhone 4S vs Apple iPhone 4: Design

Apple iPhone 4S
On the outside, the Apple iPhone 4S looks, feels and smells like an iPhone 4. That's because it is. On the inside, however, is where the magic really happens. The faster A5 processor makes operating the device noticeably quicker than the iPhone 4, especially when trawling through the App Store or using power-draining apps such as iMovie.

The plain fact that it looks like an iPhone 4 will be a hammer blow to those who have waited patiently for a freshly designed, potentially cooler-looking iPhone 5. If we don’t say so ourselves, this tweet from @crossan_phil pretty much sums it up: “glad the 5 didn't come out. Gives me more time to use my 24mth contract with the 4!!”

Apple iPhone 4
The rollout of Apple iPhone 4 handsets didn’t go quite as smoothly as the Cupertino-based company might have hoped, thanks to a troubling signal loss issue for anyone holding the iPhone 4 “incorrectly” – who knew prior to June 24 there was a “correct” way to hold mobiles?

That aside, there is no denying the Apple iPhone 4 is a stunning piece of kit. It’s 24 per cent slimmer than the iPhone 3GS at just 9.3mm thick, beautifully compact and elegantly designed with a stainless steel band separating the handset’s scratch-resistant glass covered front and back.

Apple iPhone 4S vs Apple iPhone 4: Screen

Apple iPhone 4S
While the Retina Displays on the Apple iPhone 4S and Apple iPhone 4 are pretty much the same, the improved graphics on the iPhone 4S are nothing short

of amazing. While the version we used didn't have Infinity Blade 2 installed, we tried Real Racing 2 which, to us, looked smoother than our iPhone 4 version. The keynote demo of Infinity Blade 2 was mind-blowing considering it was running on a bloomin' phone. It wowed the room. A room full of cynical hacks. Sony PSP Vita, eat your heart out.

Apple iPhone 4
The iPhone 4’s 3.5-inch Retina Display was a big improvement over the 3GS. With an 800:1 contrast ratio and 960x640p resolution – according to Apple, that’s more than the human eye can process at that size of screen – the Retina Display set a new benchmark for mobile screens – no wonder it chose not to replace it when determining the Apple iPhone 4S's specs and features.

The Retina Display is a joy to use indoors and at most outdoor light levels, although it becomes reflective and difficult to admire when in direct, bright sunlight.

Apple iOS 5 Video: 10 things you need to know

Apple iPhone 4S vs Apple iPhone 4: Processor

Apple iPhone 4S
The faster A5 processor makes operating the device noticeably quicker when launching and re-launching apps and when using power-draining applications such as iMovie. Getting hands on with Notifications, Newsstand, iMessage and Reminders demonstrated to us just how much of a step up from iOS 4 it is.

Siri is the most interesting feature of the iPhone 4S. We asked it the weather in London, and then San Francisco. We gave it a multiplication query. We asked who the prime minister of the UK was. We asked it the meaning of life. It answered them all.

Some of the replies were even funny. From a damn robot. It also got a few things wrong and we think that, in a real-world environment surrounded by lots of noise, it may struggle. Especially as it's still in beta. We're looking forward to testing it further (watch this space). Our long-suffering partners, however, aren't.

Apple iPhone 4
As noted, iOS 4 brings multitasking to the new Apple handset. This feature is reliant on the compatibility of apps, but this should cease to be an issue pretty sharpish: iPhone purchasers are not likely to look kindly on app developers who don’t update to support multitasking.

 


What is more; iOS 4 is no one trick pony. The ability to create folders for your apps is another very welcome addition, as is the option to set homescreen images, scrapping the any-colour-as-long-as-it’s-black background of previous models.

Apple iPhone 4S vs Apple iPhone 4: Camera

Apple iPhone 4S
The 8-megapixel camera shoots great photos (and macro shots). Although we were inside the Covent Garden Apple store with strip lighting a reflections-a-go-go, the resulting shots were nice and sharp, employing some of that new camera tech built into the iPhone 4S.

The difference in quality of the iPhone 4S’s 1080p video camera is instantly noticeable. We were very impressed. Will it nail the coffin shut on the dwindling camcorder industry? It's a great upgrade regardless of whether you really need it. Well, cinema pirates might.

Apple iPhone 4
Following repeated cries from consumers, the iPhone 4 now offers flash. No, not the Adobe version for viewing web video – that’s just not gonna happen, so get used to it – but a scorchingly bright LED flash to accompany the improved camera.

Stills are not suddenly of compact camera quality, but they are undeniably better, and bigger at five megapixels. Video is much improved, with 720p HD video offers pristine and sharp detail on the Retina Display, though some detail seems to be lost when compressing for direct uploading to YouTube. In-camera editing is also straightforward, and you can add the iMovie app (£2.99) if you want more sophisticated editing of your clips.

In addition to the main, rear camera there’s a second, front-facing one. This offers decent picture quality, but it’s there for more than just vanity’s sake. Apple, you see, is attempting to transform video calling from its current status as the forgotten starlet of the tech world into a must-have feature. To this end, it’s included the Skype-style Face Time app. Given that this works only over Wi-Fi and only between one iPhone 4 and another, we can’t see it reviving video calling’s fortunes, some

Apple iPhone 4S vs Apple iPhone 4: Verdict

Of course, until we've completed testing on Apple's newest contender it's impossible to come to a genuine verdict. That said, Apple's claims for the iPhone 4S are considerable, and if it lives up to them then it'll certainly be one of the best phones out there. But will it be better than its predecessor or will it fail to live up to the hype? Let us know your thoughts in our comments section below…

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