As you all know, Apple’s “greatest” ever iPhone was launched yesterday, and sold by the bucket load. One question I keep getting asked is to do a camera comparison between the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. Since it’s one of the improved areas it’s obviously an important area to consider. Is the jump in quality noticeable enough that you’d upgrade from your 4th-gen iPhone?
With all the images below I tried to take exactly the same shot on both cameras, without any editing or changing the settings. If you want to view any of the images full size, just click them. First up, some trees!
One thing I noticed straight away is that the iPhone 4 appears to struggle with light. The sky is completely white in the shot from the iPhone 4, whereas the 4S handles it well showing clouds and blue sky. One repeating theme is the over-saturated color from the iPhone 4, greens are scarily green. 4S gives a much more natural representation.
Again, the 4S clearly gives a more natural color. It also picks up a lot more detail, and makes the image much crisper.
Looking at the Dandelions you can see the iPhone 4 is struggling, again, to cope with the light. The tips of the petals are overexposed, and it struggles to pick up the detail.
Although the colors look brighter and saturated on the iPhone 4 shot of the cathedral, it cannot handle the sun behind the building. The light causes the image to get really blurry around the turrets. I have to say though, I like it. Natural can sometimes come across as plain, this time it definitely does.
Next, I took the devices over to a subway running underneath a busy road. The tunnel is pretty dark, bar the lighting on the ceiling. The 4S yet again deals well with the individual lights, and gives a much more natural, sharp and refined look to the picture. The 4′s photo shows yet more signs of over-saturation and high contrast.
In the images of the street light, the iPhone 4 seems to have gone a little AWOL. It’s stained the entire image with a yellowish tint. 4S is a clear winner here.
Above are two examples that show the iPhone 4′s over-saturation can be a good thing. (Obviously a personal preference thing.) The more “natural” 4S shots look decidedly washed out, and lacking in contrast.
Below is a comparison between the two using HDR. The statue of Queen Victoria was very dark, and behind it was bright sunlight. It seemed a perfect opportunity to test the two cameras out.
Both HDR images were taken with manual focus pointed at the base of the monument. However, the iPhone 4 doesn’t quite lighten up the shot as well as the 4S does. That extra exposure is evident. That being said, the new camera doesn’t quite dampen down the sunlight in the sky as well as the 4.
The camera tests are pretty conclusive. With pretty much every shot the iPhone 4 is over saturated and over exposed. The 4S is much more natural and decidedly sharper. Despite this, the saturation and contrast can sometimes work in favor of the the older generation handset.
Earlier on I also uploaded a 1080p video sample taken from the iPhone 4S. What do you think? Is camera/video quality enough to make you switch? Let me know your thoughts, and tell me what else you’d like to see compared between the two models. Tweet me: @TiP_Cam.