iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 4S

Thoughts By 6 years ago

If you swing past b2cloud on the day of an Apple launch, chances are we will have a collection iPad 2’s or 4S’s that very day. We usually line up, but nobody seemed to be excited about the 4S before release so we paid someone else (Luke’s idea).

So what is the difference between the 4 and the 4S?


It has an improved 8 MP camera which snaps pictures with higher resolution. So be prepared to upgrade your external backup with the increase in file sizes of around 15%. The new f/2.4 aperture lens means the camera picks up more light meaning more clarity in low light conditions. The processing of colour is far more natural on the 4S. Im not sure if the hardware or software processing does this, but you can see in the sample below an iPhone 4 HDR photo on the left and 4S HDR on right.

iPhone 4 (Left), iPhone 4S(Right)

Video is exceptional quality, but at full HD it very quickly drains the battery and memory on the phone. 20 minutes of video used a good 30% of the battery with every minute consuming around 186MB of storage. My 20 minute tooth extraction video however stunning the quality chewed up a solid 3.8 Gigabytes!


My first tweet minutes after receiving my iPhone was:

Followed shortly after by:

Siri is cool, really useful when driving in the car and sending a text message or walking down the street and making a call without flicking through the address list. There are plenty of sites out there showing off Siri, so here are the basics:

  • Activate Siri by raising the phone to your ear and waiting for the beep indicator through the ear piece. Alternatively hold the home button for 3 seconds to activate Siri through the loudspeaker
  • Most general requests will direct you to a Google search. For instance “What is the highest mountain?”.
  • Phone directory, address search and directions are only currently available in the US.
  • Requets to Siri relating to weather, maths questions, word definitions, phonebook (on device), email, text message, recent calls are all handled within Siri through custom Siri widgets. For instance the answer to a maths equation is displayed on a torn piece of paper.

What was surprising is that all voice requests and recognition happen on a server, not on the device. Meaning technically Siri could run on older devices and only today a hack has allowed this (http://jailbreakstory.com/2011/10/siri-has-been-ported-to-ipad-1-too/). The reality is that Siri was marketed for the iPhone 4S, and therefore Apple servers will block usage on other devices.


The dual-core A5 chip is supposedly faster, but I have yet to notice the diffence in performance on my existing apps. The reality when developing for Apple devices is to best utilise a limited amount of CPU and memory, so the pressure is on the coder. Hopefully the A5 doesn’t encourage lower quality code to run at a normal pace on the 4S, something we see on Android and Windows devices!


A subtle inclusion is an updated vibrate module in the phone. It is more responsive and includes new accessibility options such as custom vibration patters for contacts.


I have received several reports that the battery life on the device has degraded. My battery has been draining significantly faster that my iPhone 4, possibly up to 25% faster. This may have been caused by beta apps on my device, but others have experienced this too. Using geofenced reminders (remind me when I get home) and the use of constant location has a massive battery drain!

Button configuration

Yes, the buttons on the side of the phone have moved ever so slightly. So if you are hoping to use your old iPhone case then think again!

4S button arrangement

iPhone 4S on right has buttons located lower down

Should you buy one?

If you must have everything new (like me), or your contract has expired and an upgrade is free then obviously get one. But there is not enough variation to justify the upgrade as the performance of all the Apps you love are perfect on the iPhone 4. The design of the phone is exactly the same which means nobody will notice your $1000 investment, thats why we buy Apple right? 😉

Save your pennies and buy a cool accessory for your iPhone 4, like my most recent purchase a customised natural wooden iPhone cover from Miniot!