iPhone 5 (rumored specs) vs. iPhone 4S: Is the 4S really a letdown?

A day before the iPhone 4S announcement, I finally gave my own prediction on what would be released. I was expecting to be disappointed, and I’m sad to say, I was right. (Check here if you don’t believe me.) But, let’s be realistic, what was the difference between the iPhone 5 that was rumored and the 4S which was eventually launched? I say, not a huge deal.

Now, before I begin, let me start by saying that I was all up for having a redesigned form factor. In fact, I’ve hated the iPhone 4′s sharp corners and flat back ever since it was launched. So please don’t misunderstand this post as being a fanboy trying to make the iPhone 4S look better than it is. I’m not, I’m just looking realistically at the rumored iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S.

The leaked cases pointed to a larger device which was thinner, wider and had a 4″ display. A boxful of cases allegedly arrived at an AT&T store sometime last week showing the same changes in design. Obviously, the 4″ display is what would have caused the device to change dimensions. The new shape design was supposedly to cancel out the effects of “antennagate” symptoms. The external appearance is the only thing stopping people from believing it’s a smartphone that can take on the SuperUltraAndroid monsters. Surely it’s the overall user experience that really matters and not just how big it is?

iPhone 5 was rumored to have the same A5 processor, the same 8MP camera and be a “world phone”, compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks. So, it seems now – in people’s minds – that a larger display means a better device. To me, this is ludicrous logic. However great it would have been for gamers and users who consume large quantities of visual media, for the average Joe the 3.5″ Retina display is perfectly fine. With a pixel density of around 330ppi, it’s still the sharpest display out there.

Think, if you will, of other markets. Take a PC/Mac for example, is it better if it has a larger display? No. Is a TV better if it’s bigger? No. Why? Because “better” is a subjective term. I don’t need a handset with a 4″+ display, just like I don’t need a 3D-equipped 40″ LED TV. Apple knows its market, and it knows the iPhone 4S will sell. The problem with us tech-heads is that we got so excited by all the fantastic and amazing rumors about the iPhone 5 that we almost forgot who we’re dealing with. Apple does what it wants to do, and isn’t afraid of sticking with the same form factor. It’s us that have become entangled in the “bigger is better” mindset.

There were other rumors floating around about LTE, 12MP sensor etc. The problem with those was that there were no credible sources or leaks to back them up. Months ago Sony’s chief confirmed it was in talks to have its 8MP cameras in the next iPhone. LTE was also never an option in my mind. Globally it’s still a very young technology, and it would undoubtedly cause any device to become a little bit chunky. “Too many design compromises” meant Apple would never entertain LTE, not this year.

The iPhone 4S, in my mind, proves a lot of people wrong. Apple is not intimidated by its competition. The designers won’t create a 4″ behemoth just because Sammy and HTC do. If the iPhone 5 had been released as expected, with it’s 4″ display and new design, it would not have performed any better than the iPhone 4S. It would give the same overall experience, it would just look different. So, what I’m saying is: if you’re disappointed about the 4S (and I was), you’re essentially saying that having a different form factor makes a device better.

I don’t mind admitting it. I am disappointed, and I wanted a new form factor. But at the same time, I don’t think the 4S is as much of a let down as think it is. It’s essentially the rumored iPhone 5 in an iPhone 4 body. It can’t be that bad can it? Maybe I’m just in denial, but to me, my argument is logical. What do you think? Is the disappointment with the 4S just a reaction to having the same form factor? Are you just bored with the look and feel of the iPhone 4?

Comment below, or tweet me: @TiP_Cam

 

 

 

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  • Daniel Wolfe

    There’s only one word to describe it. Lazy. Hat the hell have they been doing for 16 months?? They used the exact same design as before, and even the same name pattern that they used earlier! Making us wait a year and a half for a phone should be made up by making the phone amazing. An I know the specs and everything are great! But it doesn’t have the wow factor. At all. All I see when I look at it is a reused and overdone design that I’m gonna have to look at for another year. Huge dissapointment.

    • Davidclk430

      Hey Daniel, what Apple has been doing for the past 16 months is letting the android and others fight it out. Apple owns the commercial smart phone market. They needed to penetrate the BB industrial market which I feel they did.  Their growth will come from that. Read Forbes. What could anyone want more from Apple. The 4S is faster, the camera is 8mp, and the new features are all available as an upgrade. Save your money or jump ship just to go to another platform that is confusing, not as user friendly, and offers nothing substantially different. My company who employs 200+employees are now encouraging a switch from BB to Apple. Android platform never entered discussions. I had the opportunity to use a Android device, and although it performed well, my loyalties will remain with Apple. Simply put, Apple simplifies everything. The out of box experience still is at the top, and don’t think that Steve Jobs is still not  behind the scenes. The final pro to of the 4S was approved long before Jobs departure.  

      • Daniel Wolfe

        I completely agree. I understand the point f making the phone the way it is. And if I was in their shoes, I would have too. But from a consumer’s standpoint who always wants the latest and greatest, an exact replica doesn’t cut it. No matter the internals. I will be getting. I do every year. Which I guess kind of cancels out my argument. Haha. But it will be a very lackluster release. For me anyway. And don’t get me wrong. I am stoked about assis- well, Siri. And the camera. And the A5 chip looks incredible. But I don’t know. It just didn’t do it for me this year. Kind of like with the 3GS. And I have no doubt the 4S will be a great device, and I’ll love it as much as I did my 3GS.

      • Daniel Wolfe

        I completely agree. I understand the point f making the phone the way it is. And if I was in their shoes, I would have too. But from a consumer’s standpoint who always wants the latest and greatest, an exact replica doesn’t cut it. No matter the internals. I will be getting. I do every year. Which I guess kind of cancels out my argument. Haha. But it will be a very lackluster release. For me anyway. And don’t get me wrong. I am stoked about assis- well, Siri. And the camera. And the A5 chip looks incredible. But I don’t know. It just didn’t do it for me this year. Kind of like with the 3GS. And I have no doubt the 4S will be a great device, and I’ll love it as much as I did my 3GS.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KHXXSLBO3R5HWZL44X7R4BKIMA Benjamin Roberts

          Daniel, I was feeling the same as you were yesterday after listening in on the conference, but after sleeping on it I feel a lot better about the 4S than I did before. I really think we need to look at it differently: http://bit.ly/q4UdTZ

      • iDroid

        great response David. but for the record, Apple doesn’t own the commercial smartphone market. android does… for now at least. maybe the 4s could change that.

  • Derronw

    Honestly I was disappointed as well. I was excited about a larger screen and new design. With that being said tho, this is still a nice, well thought out upgrade. The iPhone 4′s design is beautiful and the 4S will most likely out perform most of it’s competition in the “real world”. The best designs usually stay the same for a while in other industries. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it…

  • http://markcarruthers.blogspot.com Mark Carruthers

    Yes it is a letdown!  Using the keyboard on a 3.5″ screen is difficult with large hands.

  • Jacob Weihrauch

    I think your article is great.  I was looking forward to a new form factor and possibly a bigger display, though the internals were more important for me.  I’ve never been disappointed with an Apple product so this one should be no different.  Again, great article.

  • Yasith

    I was excited to read this article then half way I was disappointed with the justifications. The 4″ screen should have been a great feature that all would have loved. And different design doesn’t make the device better but the design is what on the top of Apple’s list. Junction of Technology and Art. 
    Whole heartedly we all were dissapointed. But when you get over it you are correct it is a great phone.

  • Yasith

    I was excited to read this article then half way I was disappointed with the justifications. The 4″ screen should have been a great feature that all would have loved. And different design doesn’t make the device better but the design is what on the top of Apple’s list. Junction of Technology and Art. 
    Whole heartedly we all were dissapointed. But when you get over it you are correct it is a great phone.

  • Rohit

    I just wanted a larger display, at a minimum!! C’mon!!

    • His Shadow

      Why?

  • SoulCystic

    Completely agree, and it doesnt just apply with electronics.  Vehicles do the same thing.  Better engines and tweaks to the internals before a huge redesign.  Im sure functionally it will be awesome.  and hopefully the ipad 3 will be groundbreaking, where they have a little more room to perfect the tech that makes it into the iphone 5.  A6 chip..direct brain synapsis interface, etc… :)

  • Wesley Elling

    I was as disappointed as the next fanboy not to see a radical new iPhone, but honestly the screen should not be that big of a deal breaker. The only time I ever feel my screen on the 4 is not big enough is when my friend whips out his droid X. Cam’s right and I don’t think all the bad press apples getting is unwarranted.

    Did anyone elts see that there’s a sprint iPhone 4 in the apple store?

  • Pitchfordce90

    This is how I feel about the whole thing. I am an android user but I have an ipad2 and waited 16 months thinking that we were going to get something magnificent. My point here is that they made us wait this long for just internal differences and a new camera. Secondly, I understand that they are innovative but they are going around suing every person they can find and mean while other manufacturers are making bigger screens and most importantly 4g speeds available. I mean siri is basically the same thing that android has had all along but just a little perfected and on top of that is doesn’t come out until next yr. I was upset and I have never ever owned and iphone. Irk Maybe it is just me.

  • Pitchfordce90

    This is how I feel about the whole thing. I am an android user but I have an ipad2 and waited 16 months thinking that we were going to get something magnificent. My point here is that they made us wait this long for just internal differences and a new camera. Secondly, I understand that they are innovative but they are going around suing every person they can find and mean while other manufacturers are making bigger screens and most importantly 4g speeds available. I mean siri is basically the same thing that android has had all along but just a little perfected and on top of that is doesn’t come out until next yr. I was upset and I have never ever owned and iphone. Irk Maybe it is just me.

  • Ldominguez1986

    I like the iPhone 4 design but definitely would have like to see a bigger screen.  3.5 is way to small when the average screen size is 4.  I mean, 3.7 would have been awesome and doable while keeping the same design and everything.  As far as the specs, there beast.  I am an android user and plan on getting an iPhone on sprint just because I care about taking photos with my phone and love the quality of apples lenses.  In my opinion, if apple made that uni body phone I think I wouldn’t even think about buying it because I thought the design was atrocious.  Anyway, that’s just my two cents…

  • Ldominguez1986

    I like the iPhone 4 design but definitely would have like to see a bigger screen.  3.5 is way to small when the average screen size is 4.  I mean, 3.7 would have been awesome and doable while keeping the same design and everything.  As far as the specs, there beast.  I am an android user and plan on getting an iPhone on sprint just because I care about taking photos with my phone and love the quality of apples lenses.  In my opinion, if apple made that uni body phone I think I wouldn’t even think about buying it because I thought the design was atrocious.  Anyway, that’s just my two cents…

  • http://bottleupthecrazy.com Jenn

    I don’t understand why there’s so much anger surrounding the 4S release. The 3G was followed by a 3GS, so this isn’t completely out of left field. And while it might not sport a new design (which really isn’t a huge deal), the other features are pretty cool. 

    So the keynote was a little lackluster, I’ll admit it. And I probably won’t wait 6.5 hours in line for the 4S like I did with the 4. In fact, iPhone 4 owners really don’t need to rush out an upgrade. This seems to be a great thing for anyone still carrying a 3G or 3GS though. 

    As usual, everyone needs something to complain about. In a few weeks the focus will shift back to complaining about Facebook’s new design. Personally I’m really looking forward to iOS 5.

  • Pete

    You know.. come to think of it… you are right…its not TOO TOO bad. It will though cause iPhone 4 users to stick to their phones or perhaps get another device rather than getting the 4S, so that’s some lost potential sales. But being apple, I’m sure they have thought of that as well.

  • David

    I like the 4S. If I can find the money, I’ll even get it too. It did get HSPA+ which I’m happy about and it’s a great phone. I just don’t have the money to buy it sadly so I don’t know if I can get it anyway

  • Paul

    I didn’t think they were going to radically change the design this year. It fell in line with what my gut was telling me. That was the big reason I got the Verizon iPhone 4 back in April. I don’t like bigger screens on phones, so that doesn’t matter much to me. Bigger screens on a TV are a different story though. Great perspective as usual, Cam.

  • Mgrosete76

    all i can say is “FLASH” since it’s a dual-cored beast…would iphone5 be at the same spec? maybe better? one thing they’re in common with, they’re both Apple…can you tell the difference?

  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

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  • misha

    apparently you are the only one i know that will be buying one.the 4s is a letdown period!

  • User

    Yes I was very disappointed but not surprised at all.  Last week it was looking like 99% there was going to be a 4S.  And I highly doubt apple would release a 4S and a 5 at the same time.  As you see most people were disappointed in the 4S so apple knew that the 4S wouldn’t sell if they were to release a 5 along with the 4S.  Come on, you know anybody that would buy the 4S over the 5?
     
    I some ways though I was a little surprised there wasn’t a iPhone 5.  If you think about it.  Apple released the iOS5, A5 Chip and an additional lens in camera for a total of 5 lenses.   You see it yet?  There is a “5″ theme going on here.  So, I thought that would be a perfect time to release an iPhone 5.  Maybe there were planning on it but ran out of time.
     
    Really all I wanted was a bigger screen.  3.5″ is getting a little small especially as my eyes are getting worse.  Yeah 4.5 screen would’ve been AWESOME!!! but 4″ would been great as well.  Yeah, I can’t believe apple didn’t upgrade the screen at all.  I’m sure they had their reasons that we’ll never know exactly why.
     
    What’s really sucky for me personally is that I’m in the wrong year for apple stuff.  I have a 3GS.  My 2-year contract just ended last month and know I have to get this 4S.  Know I’m stuck with this small 3.5″ screen for 2 more years.  Yes, I know I could upgrade early but I can’t because I’m getting this phone though my work and they won’t let you upgrade until the contact is up.
     
    I’m sure though that next year the iPhone 5 (or whatever it will be called) be way KILLLER!!!  Mainly because they can concentrate more on the phone than the iOS like they did this round.

    • http://twitter.com/The_Prosser SonOfRosser

      “I some ways though I was a little surprised there wasn’t a iPhone 5.  If you think about it.  Apple released the iOS5, A5 Chip and an additional lens in camera for a total of 5 lenses.   You see it yet?  There is a “5″ theme going on here.  So, I thought that would be a perfect time to release an iPhone 5.  Maybe there were planning on it but ran out of time”
      Or maybe they had reserved it for Jobs to present as his “One more thing” and had to scrap it at the last minute when he fell ill. Maybe out of respect, who knows? I’m sure they reserve the ability to change that presentation at the drop of a hat.

    • http://twitter.com/The_Prosser SonOfRosser

      “I some ways though I was a little surprised there wasn’t a iPhone 5.  If you think about it.  Apple released the iOS5, A5 Chip and an additional lens in camera for a total of 5 lenses.   You see it yet?  There is a “5″ theme going on here.  So, I thought that would be a perfect time to release an iPhone 5.  Maybe there were planning on it but ran out of time”
      Or maybe they had reserved it for Jobs to present as his “One more thing” and had to scrap it at the last minute when he fell ill. Maybe out of respect, who knows? I’m sure they reserve the ability to change that presentation at the drop of a hat.

  • User

    Yes I was very disappointed but not surprised at all.  Last week it was looking like 99% there was going to be a 4S.  And I highly doubt apple would release a 4S and a 5 at the same time.  As you see most people were disappointed in the 4S so apple knew that the 4S wouldn’t sell if they were to release a 5 along with the 4S.  Come on, you know anybody that would buy the 4S over the 5?
     
    I some ways though I was a little surprised there wasn’t a iPhone 5.  If you think about it.  Apple released the iOS5, A5 Chip and an additional lens in camera for a total of 5 lenses.   You see it yet?  There is a “5″ theme going on here.  So, I thought that would be a perfect time to release an iPhone 5.  Maybe there were planning on it but ran out of time.
     
    Really all I wanted was a bigger screen.  3.5″ is getting a little small especially as my eyes are getting worse.  Yeah 4.5 screen would’ve been AWESOME!!! but 4″ would been great as well.  Yeah, I can’t believe apple didn’t upgrade the screen at all.  I’m sure they had their reasons that we’ll never know exactly why.
     
    What’s really sucky for me personally is that I’m in the wrong year for apple stuff.  I have a 3GS.  My 2-year contract just ended last month and know I have to get this 4S.  Know I’m stuck with this small 3.5″ screen for 2 more years.  Yes, I know I could upgrade early but I can’t because I’m getting this phone though my work and they won’t let you upgrade until the contact is up.
     
    I’m sure though that next year the iPhone 5 (or whatever it will be called) be way KILLLER!!!  Mainly because they can concentrate more on the phone than the iOS like they did this round.

  • User

    Yes I was very disappointed but not surprised at all.  Last week it was looking like 99% there was going to be a 4S.  And I highly doubt apple would release a 4S and a 5 at the same time.  As you see most people were disappointed in the 4S so apple knew that the 4S wouldn’t sell if they were to release a 5 along with the 4S.  Come on, you know anybody that would buy the 4S over the 5?
     
    I some ways though I was a little surprised there wasn’t a iPhone 5.  If you think about it.  Apple released the iOS5, A5 Chip and an additional lens in camera for a total of 5 lenses.   You see it yet?  There is a “5″ theme going on here.  So, I thought that would be a perfect time to release an iPhone 5.  Maybe there were planning on it but ran out of time.
     
    Really all I wanted was a bigger screen.  3.5″ is getting a little small especially as my eyes are getting worse.  Yeah 4.5 screen would’ve been AWESOME!!! but 4″ would been great as well.  Yeah, I can’t believe apple didn’t upgrade the screen at all.  I’m sure they had their reasons that we’ll never know exactly why.
     
    What’s really sucky for me personally is that I’m in the wrong year for apple stuff.  I have a 3GS.  My 2-year contract just ended last month and know I have to get this 4S.  Know I’m stuck with this small 3.5″ screen for 2 more years.  Yes, I know I could upgrade early but I can’t because I’m getting this phone though my work and they won’t let you upgrade until the contact is up.
     
    I’m sure though that next year the iPhone 5 (or whatever it will be called) be way KILLLER!!!  Mainly because they can concentrate more on the phone than the iOS like they did this round.

  • Austin

    you can’t tell a book by it’s cover! But it shore sells a bunch of them! I liked the shape of the Ipnone 3
    Make it 4″ with the upgrade and you have a great phone, I’ve got an Idea how about letting all phone carriers have it, the lets see the last man standing. I have always disliked the 4 design, clunky and awkward.

  • Austin

    you can’t tell a book by it’s cover! But it shore sells a bunch of them! I liked the shape of the Ipnone 3
    Make it 4″ with the upgrade and you have a great phone, I’ve got an Idea how about letting all phone carriers have it, the lets see the last man standing. I have always disliked the 4 design, clunky and awkward.

  • Austin

    you can’t tell a book by it’s cover! But it shore sells a bunch of them! I liked the shape of the Ipnone 3
    Make it 4″ with the upgrade and you have a great phone, I’ve got an Idea how about letting all phone carriers have it, the lets see the last man standing. I have always disliked the 4 design, clunky and awkward.

  • Jeffrey

    I find it interesting that there’s a sense of entitlement with consumers… “I deserve a bigger screen, I want, I need…” Seriously? If you don’t like the phone don’t buy it.  But don’t act like Apple has some moral obligation to put out a product that lives up to your standards. If it cuts the mustard, great.  If not, get over it.  I, myself, will not be buying the 4S, and instead I’ll hold onto my 4 until the 5 comes out.  I saw the product being offered, decided it wasn’t worth the $$ and moved on.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001523625721 Payton Wescoat

    um, on the whole LTE rant in paragraph 6, you do know it has 4G, right? they just arent defining it as “4G” so that people dont jump all over them about what is and isnt 4G, but its the same netword speeds as all other 4G phones… just saying.

    • Hmmmm

      The network speeds are not all the same with 4g phones, LTE obviously has much faster capability than HSPA+. just saying. 

  • pre-ordered already

    they would use the same form for atleast 2-3 years. so since the iphone4 body was only launched last year then it should be good for another year or 2. it’s just like cars. honda civiv 10 and 11 same body civic 12 new body 13 probably same body but add-on features.

  • Lewis

    I always hear the rant like the don’t buy it if you don’t like it in these types of discussions.  It’s such a drag.   No one’s claiming any moral right, they’re just discussing things.  How about –  If you don’t want to discuss things then don’t…

  • Fire_snake

    Yes I also agree, it is a letdown. The iPhone 4S is a boosted version of the iPhone 4. It’s probably beause Steve Jobs was to sick to design and bring the iPhone 5, so the company decided to upgrade the actual version. Disapointed I am, theys should have upgraded the screen size atleast. Unfortunately, I don’t see the future of Apple as bright as I was a year ago. What do you think, should we start looking for an other company to take over the iPhone, do you think that Apple will do grade in the upcoming years??? Only time will tell…

  • Rosaprop123

    Love my iPhone as a portable comp but as a phone it completely sucks eggs. Not running flash is a huge hassle as well. My main concern with 4S would be how it works as a phone. Maybe Apple should change the name from cell phone to micro-comp. If you ask me if I want to watch a movie on a 32″ LCD or a 65″ plasma it most definitely would be the latter. Bigger screens are better hands down.

    • His Shadow

      “Not running flash is a huge hassle as well.”

      Yeah, the lack of Flash has really impeded sales of the iPhone.

      Oh wait. No it hasn’t.

      It’s been 4 years. it’s time to STFU about Flash on iOS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shinobubu Xyriz Arceo

    I don’t think anyone wants to manufacture or buy new cases and accessories for a new form factor. Besides I like the Glass and Steel construction. It feels very nice to me. I can break a car window with this if I need something to save my life. Now I can have the iPhone 5 performance with out having to buy new accessories. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=668998237 Cameron Tomlinson

    ordered my iphone 4Steve today. I mean yeah I was let down a little but other then a bigger screen (GET A FRIGGIN IPAD) what more could they possibly do to this thing? Make it different design? They don’t follow with an S and change the design. plus i’m glad I don’t need new accessories. And since Ebay buying out and is paying straight up $318 with out auction etc *what i paid for my iphone 4* (32 GB) just a few months ago on verizon I look at it like I got to use the iphone 4 while waiting for my iphone 4Steve for free. Yes i’m upgrading at full price but just a few months ago if i wasn’t a new verizon customer I would have paid the retail for the upgrade anyway so in all reality I didn’t pay anything to use this iphone 4 while waiting for the newest iphone. I’m dissapointed but I don’t think I have room to complain.