iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S: What’s the difference?

Features Richard Goodwin 13:19, 29 Jun 2011

Some sources are suggesting Apple will release both an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 4S. But if it does how will they different? We investigate

Is Apple about to unveil two iPhone devices? One source over at the Deutsche Bank seems to think so – although they could be wrong. But let's just entertain the thought they’re not, and Apple does unveil the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5. How will Apple differentiate the two handsets?

It’s a tough question, but one that is easily speculated about. For starters, what we know about the iPhone 4S (in theory, at least) is that it’s aimed at the middle-markets, which means it’ll be priced anywhere between £200 and £400.

Granted, a lot of people will pass this rumour off as mere guff. Why, exactly, would Apple turn its back on premium-grade products and produce, god forbid, an affordable product? Simple – the same reason it does anything: Money.

As Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore points out, ‘there are 1.5 billion people in 98 countries who prefer to use pre-pay phones and, as you’d expect, cannot afford to buy an iPhone. If Apple went after this market with a mid-range handset it could almost certainly deliver a deathblow to Nokia and RIM.’

At least, it could if both the price and the hardware are right. But getting that right could be very tricky indeed, especially if Apple just re-tweaks the iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS. But what else could it do – it’s only ever made one phone at a time? Here are our thoughts on the matter:

If Apple does make a ‘mid-range’ iPhone, and it is called the iPhone 4S, we’d expect it to cut a lot of corners, in terms of hardware, to ensure that it can create enough profit to justify producing such a device.

One of the first components we’d expect to see omitted is Apple’s Retina Display. Not only would this significantly lower the production costs associated with the iPhone 4S, but it would also separate the iPhone 4S from the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5 will no doubt feature a Retina Display – this is a given. But what will differentiate the iPhone 5 from the iPhone 5 is the size of the display. We’re hearing a lot of talk about the iPhone 5 featuring a curved side-to-side Retina Display, something that will increase the screen real estate up to around 4-inches.

So, in terms of display we’d expect the iPhone 4S to not feature a Retina Display and the iPhone 5 to feature a curved 4-inch Retina Display. This way, all Apple’s current devices (the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5) will be completely differentiated.

Storage is a tricky one, especially with advent of Apple’s iCloud. That said, we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple upped the storage to the 64GB mark on the iPhone 5, especially since so many Android handsets are now rocking around the 64GB mark with their combined internal and SD storage.

On the subject of the iPhone 4S, we reckon Apple would limit the storage to either 8GB or 16GB. That way, it limits the storage costs but users will still have access to iCloud support within iOS5, so they should be too limited by the lower-end storage capabilities of the device.

If Apple does it this way, the iPhone 4S (8GB or 16GB), the iPhone 4 (16GB and 32GB) and the iPhone 5 (potentially, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB) will be completely different in the storage facilities they offer, which will allow Apple to price them accordingly.  

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