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Which iPhone shall I buy? iPhone 5 VS iPhone 4S VS iPhone 4

So the iPhone 5 has arrived and with it are all of the latest features and services worthy of an Apple flagship. Along with iOS 6, there’s a 4-inch screen, the first time an iPhone has made the jump beyond 3.5-inches and A6 processor.

But if you’re considering investing in an Apple smartphone for the first time, is this is the right phone for you?  The iPhone 5 is expensive and you might not need all its cutting edge features. Apple has two other phones in its portfolio getting progressively cheaper – the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. Here’s a look at how their specifications stack up.

iPhone family 2012


  • iPhone 5: The slimmest iPhone yet at just 7.6mm deep and 18% lighter than the iPhone 4S – yet only a little bit taller than its predecessors. Made from anodised aluminium with diamond cut chamfered edges and glass inlays, it’s a stunning phone and comes in black/slate and white/silver.
  • iPhone 4S: The iPhone 4S was an incremental upgrade, so looks exactly the same as the iPhone 4, with the exception of the antenna, which was repositioned following ‘antenna gate.’ 
  • iPhone 4: A combination of stainless steel and glass with a flat back, the iPhone 4 was groundbreaking when it first launched and is still (arguably) one of the best looking phones on the market.


  • iPhone 5: 4-inch screen, 1136×640, 326pi
  • iPhone 4S: 3.5-inch, 960×640, 326 ppi
  • iPhone 4: 3.5-inch, 960×640, 326 ppi

Operating system

  • iPhone 5: iOS 6 with all the features
  • iPhone 4S: iOS 6, at the moment we think it will have all the features, but will Panorama be there or will Apple keep that for the iPhone 5? Update: Panorama is now listed as a spec for the iPhone 4S
  • iPhone 4: iOS 6, but no Siri, turn by turn navigation or flyover


  • iPhone 5: Apple A6 –  no confirmation from Apple on the number of cores, but speed bump over A5
  • iPhone 4S: Apple A5 dual-core
  • iPhone 4: Apple A4 single-core


  • iPhone 5: 8 hours 3G talk time, 8 hours 3G browsing, 10 hours video, 40 hours audio
  • iPhone 4S: 8 hours 3G talk time, 6 hours 3G browsing, 10 hours video, 40 hours audio
  • iPhone 4: 7 hours 3G talk time, 6 hours 3G browsing, 10 hours video, 40 hours audio


  • iPhone 5: 8-megapixel, autofocus, LED flash, 1080p HD movies/front-facing 1.2MP, 720 HD video, face detection
  • iPhone 4S: 8-megapixel, autofocus, LED flash, 1080p HD movies/front-facing VGA, face detection
  • iPhone 4: 5-megapixel, LED flash, 720p HD movies


  • iPhone 5: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
  • iPhone 4S: 16GB
  • iPhone 4: 8GB


  • iPhone 5: Bluetooth, WiFi, 4G (LTE), 3G, lightening dock connector, 
  • iPhone 4S: Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi, 3G, 30-pin connector
  • iPhone 4: Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi, 3G, 30-pin connector


  • iPhone 5: £529 (16GB) £599 (32GB) £699 (64GB)
  • iPhone 4S:  £449 (16GB)
  • iPhone 4: £319 (8GB)

Which iPhone should I buy?

It you want ultra fast gaming and to stream HD movies over 4G using a 4-inch screen this is the phone for you. The iPhone 5 is the ultimate iPhone – fast, powerful and with a new stunning design.

The iPhone 4S is an extremely powerful machine, the dual-core processor handling gaming and movies with aplomb. Despite being an older phone, it still has one of the best screens on the market, the same camera as the iPhone 5 and (of course) Siri. It doesn’t have 4G though and in the future if (and this is a big if) apps start to get slicker to fit the new screen iPhone 4S users may miss out.

The iPhone 4 has a fantastic design and screen, but lacks power, the camera is good rather than amazing and there’s no Siri. To get the best performance and graphics from apps you really need a dual-core processor instead of the single-core here, but for email, browsing and everyday use the iPhone 4 is more than capable.


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