Smartphone Battle: Apple iPhone 4 vs. Apple iPhone 4S

By Louis Ramirez, dealnews senior feature writer

Apple's next-generation iPhone is officially here. Sporting an upgraded dual-core processor and a suite of fancy new features, the new wonder phone is due to hit shelves October 14. But with no mention of an iPhone 5, is the iPhone 4S worth the upgrade? Let's take a look and find out.

Apple iPhone 4 vs. Apple iPhone 4S

Apple iPhone 4
Apple iPhone 4S
Verizon, AT&T, Sprint (eventually)
Verizon, AT&T, Sprint
Operating System
iOS 4
iOS 5
3.5" multi-touch (960x640)
3.5" multi-touch (960x640)
ARM Cortex A4 CPU
w/ PowerVR SGX 535
ARM Cortex A5 CPU
w/ PowerVR SGX 535
VGA front-facing camera, 5MP rear camera, Bluetooth, aGPS, 802.11n
VGA front-facing camera, 8MP rear camera, Bluetooth, aGPS, 802.11n
4.8 oz.
4.9 oz.

The New Features

Cosmetically, the new iPhone 4S looks identical to the previous model. It'll come in both black or white sporting Apple's retina display. Under the hood, however, the iPhone 4S is a different beast, one that Apple claims is two times faster than the current iPhone.

The extra speed comes courtesy of the iPhone 4S' new A5 chip. The dual-core, Apple-designed chip is identical to the one found in the current iPad 2. The new iPhone also comes with dual-core graphics, which Apple claims will deliver seven times faster performance than the current iPhone 4. For on-the-go gamers, this should come as great news as it will allow for games with richer graphics.

If you're worried the new processing power will cut into your battery life, fear not, as the iPhone 4S will house the best battery of any iPhone with up to 8 hours of talk time, 6 hours of 3G browsing, and 9 hours of WiFi browsing. Unfortunately, the iPhone 4S will remain a 3G phone for the time being.

Other notable hardware upgrades include a new 8-megapixel sensor with face detection, HD video camera with image stabilization, and the inclusion of both GSM and CDMA radios, meaning the iPhone 4S will double as a world phone. The new iPhone 4S will also be available on Sprint for the first time.

On the software front, the iPhone 4S will be the first Apple device to come pre-loaded with iOS 5, which is where you'll find the majority of the new features, such as Twitter integration, iCloud (which manages and syncs your music and files), iMessage (an instant messaging service amongst all iOS devices), and Notification Center (which lets you preview incoming texts, messages, and e-mail).

And perhaps the iPhone 4S' biggest new software feature is Siri, a "personal assistant" that uses voice-recognition technology to provide information on weather, local restaurants, note dictation, and more. Siri will only be available on the iPhone 4S.

What to Buy for the Holidays

With all the new features, is the iPhone 4S worth the upgrade? For current iPhone 4 owners the answer is no. Most of the iPhone 4S' new features stem from iOS 5 and the iPhone 4 can be upgraded to the new OS. The only catch is, you won' be able to run Siri on the iPhone 4.

And despite Apple's 8GB iPhone 3GS price drop (the 8GB phone is now free on contract), we'd still recommend going with an iPhone 4 (or refurb refurb iPhone 4), since the iPhone 4 provided a significant hardware upgrade from the 3GS and will most likely provide a smoother experience with iOS 5.

Now if you want a deal on a new iPhone 4S, you're out of luck. Last year's iPhone was released in June, which gave us just enough time to see iPhone 4 refurb deals for Black Friday. This year, however, the new iPhone 4S is debuting weeks before Black Friday, which leaves us with a very slim chance of seeing iPhone 4S refurbs or discounts.

Ultimately, budget-conscious consumers are better off sticking with an iPhone 4 (upgraded to iOS 5).

An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


Leave a comment!

or Register
i saw jesus riding on bigfoots shoulders and they were both carrying 3gs's . the son of man was toothin', of course  
i'm going to list small improvement/downgrade: 
gained only 1 hour talk time from 7hrs on iPhone 4 and 8hrs on iPhone 4S
standby decreased from 300 hrs to 200 hrs
so overall battery life is the same... 
so why was my comment flagged ? I thought we were all adults on the intrawebs,
Oh... Dealnews must just be shilling for the man
The apple site lists the 4 (regular) as being offered by sprint coming soon.
dear new dude at apple,
learn to manage expectations dumbfuck. you should have squashed the 5 talk and maybe your stock wouldn't have tanked on a day you release some new shit. die of aids already. 
samsung galaxy nexus ftw!
This is True... I am not going for iPhone 4S...