Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Smartphone showdown

When two iPhones go to war...

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S: Is there enough in the new Apple smartphone to upgrde? Here's how they shape up in the specs department...

So Apple smartphone lovers, the time of reckoning has come. The iPhone 5 is available to pre-order and the hardcore masses are already lining up outside Apple Stores to buy one as soon as the doors are opened by a man in a bright blue shirt.

The question is, will you join them? Apple’s new smartphone has received a mixed response since it was officially announced earlier this week, but of course it’s early days, and as our hands-on time suggests, we are not ready going to cast judgement just yet.

If you are wondering whether to make the upgrade from the iPhone 4S or wondering whether to embrace the iOS world for the very first time, we see how the new iPhone 5 and its predecessor the 4S shape up against each other in the specs department. Let battle commence…

Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Build and design

Apple iPhone 5

At 112g and 7mm thick, the iPhone 5 unquestionably feels lighter and thinner than the 4S which is interesting considering it packs more power than the last iPhone. The aluminium/glass construction is gorgeous to look at, but the reduction in weight also makes it feel less industrial and less sturdy.

A nano-Sim on the side replaces the old style micro-SIM which forms part of the reduction in size with the new Lightning connector replaces the 30-pin model once again helping to shave off some of the millimetres and is of course 9mm taller than the iPhone 4S with the bigger screen but maintains the same width.

The headphone socket is now on the bottom with a two-tone design in both black and white, while the back is crafted from the same anodised 6000 series aluminium material used in Apple MacBooks. It perhaps also worth noting that the earphones sport a new design, which Apple claims will be more stable and durable than the current ones and should minimise the kind of sound leakage that is synonymous with the current buds.

Apple iPhone 4S

Looking near identical to the iPhone 4 from handset to earphones, the 4S is obviously shorter than the iPhone 5 and thicker at 9.3mm while there is a significant change in the weight department with the 4S landing on the scales at 140g.

It was a dramatic design change when compared to the 3GS having become 24% slimmer with a stainless steel band separating the handset’s scratch-resistant glass covered front and back. The band which was also the aerial is of course where the whole antennagate issues stemmed from and revealed a bizarre reception flaw, that Apple did eventually deal with.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Screen

Apple iPhone 5

The Retina display is now upped to four inches and brags a 1136x640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi. Real-estate is noticeably bigger, with a extra line of apps added to each screen and movies now playing in 16:9 without letter-boxing. It also means that there's simply more to look at when browsing websites, playing games and using apps.

Apple says apps built for the old screen will work just fine but it will allow developers to create new apps specifically for this screen. It didn't seem brighter in our short hands-on, but we were smitten with how much more information is now available to look at.

Apple iPhone 4S

The pin-sharp 3.5-inch Retina Display remains from the iPhone 4 with the same 960 x 640 resolution and 326 ppi as the previous handset. The iPhone 4S screen didn't jump up to 4 or 4.4-inches as it had been rumoured, but still retained its clarity and performance, which was market-leading if not at the very least market-matching.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Camera

Apple iPhone 5

One of the biggest feature upgrades is with the camera. It's now branded iSight and, while offering the same 8-Megapixel lens, now has improved HDR and PhotoStream sharing. Additionally, a new image processor includes a smart filter and should reduce noise in images.

Video recording remains at 1080p, while the front-cam is markedly better – 720p FaceTime being the standout feature. The headline newbie, however, is the panoramic mode that will stitch together a landscape shot in real-time and create an image up to 28mp in size.

Apple iPhone 4S

The iSight camera sensor went from a 5-Megapixel up to a monster 8-Megapixels. Its backside sensor lets 73% more light per pixel in. It’s got a Five element lens, plus a Hybrid IR Filter. That means nicer shots, essentially. When we tested it, photos were crisper, no question, but we doubted its ability to compete with traditional cameras with bigger lenses in low light. You could also choose to have a grid on the screen when taking shots, perform basic image-editing within the Camera Roll and jump straight to the camera function via a shortcut. The video camera was ramped up to allow full 1080p HD recording, however FaceTime calls could only be taken with VGA resolution quality.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Processor

Apple iPhone 5

Moving from the A5 processor found in the 4S and the iPad 2, to a new A6 chip, Apple claims it will deliver a CPU two times faster than the A5 and up to times better graphics. So, expect apps to launch quicker, browsing to speedier and overall performance to step up significantly from the 4S. When we tried it out, we were pinging around apps more fluidly than our iPhone 4S and video also looked smoother. With the iPhone 5 set to support 4G LTE, the more processing power should deliver a quicker performance in terms of web browsing, data transfer and multiplayer gaming.

Apple iPhone 4S

The A5 dual-core processor (as seen in the iPad 2) makes things noticeably nippier. Apps launch quicker, web pages load faster, multi-tasking is more fluid and resource-hungry apps like Pages now allow you to edit documents without any lag. The processor also supercharges the iPhone 4S's graphical prowess, and also enabled the ability to mirror 4S content over AirPlay The storage was also bumped up to a maximum 64GB.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S: iOS

Apple iPhone 5

New phone, new operating system. iOS 6 which will be available to download from September 19th could be the real star of the show. Promising a slightly tweaked user interface with a new look App Store and iCloud support, a smarter Siri that will launch apps, FaceTime over 3G and TomTom-powered Apple Maps, it's still one of the best mobile operating systems and the new features have certainly enhanced the capabilities of the iPhone.

Apple iPhone 4S

Shipping with Apple's iOS 5 out of the box, the iPhone 4S will also benefit from iOS 6 when it lands on September 19th. iOS 5 boasted a massive range of top features, including Siri, a new slide-down iPhone notifications bar, deep Twitter integration, additional camera features, FaceTime over 3G, WiFi sync and a completely PC-free operation.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Battery

Apple iPhone 5

While the iPhone 4 made a big jump from the previous iPhone 3G and 3GS, The iPhone 5 battery is generally the same as the 4S so it should see you through 8 hours talk time on 3G or LTE, and 10 hours of Wi-Fi which an extra hour more than the 4S.

Apple iPhone 4S

Battery life has also been improved. Apple claims 8 hours of 3G talk time, up to 9 hours of wifi use, 10 hours video playback and 40 hours of musical pleasure. In our experience, we can say that when compared to the iPhone 4, all of these activities had less of a drain on battery. We did notice the battery draining a little quicker when in standby, however.

Apple iPhone 5 vs Apple iPhone 4S: Price

Apple iPhone 5: £529 (16Gb), £599 (32GB), £699 (64GB)

Apple iPhone 4S: £449 (16GB), £599 (32GB), £699 (64GB)

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