iPhone 5S vs. iPhone 4: 9 Things Buyers Need to Know Right Now

Later this year, Apple is expected to announce two new iPhone models. A cheap plastic iPhone 5C that is apparently going to be aimed at emerging markets like China, and a premium iPhone 5S that is expected to replace the iPhone 5. Of course, Apple’s older iPhones aren’t going to just fall off the face of the earth with the earth when the new models arrive and many consumers likely have their eye on both the iPhone 5S and an older iPhone like the iPhone 4.

For most of 2013, consumers have been inundated with rumors of two new iPhone models, one, the iPhone 5S and the other, an iPhone 5C. The iPhone 5C is expected to be a cheap, plastic iPhone that comes with a Retina Display, 8MP camera, plastic back with several color options and be aimed at markets like China where Apple wants to attack a market that has been flooded by cheap Android devices.

The iPhone 5S is expected to be a premium smartphone that replaces the iPhone 5 as the company’s flagship model and one that takes the reigns as the company’s go to device for new customers. While the iPhone 5S is a given for the United States, it’s still not clear if the iPhone 5C will make it stateside. So at this point, consumers may ultimately end up seeing the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S continue to be sold for discounted prices.

We’ve already taken a look at what consumers debating between the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S need to know. But what about Apple’s current bottom feeder, the iPhone 4?

The iPhone 4 remains on sale, three years after it first launched in the United States and in just a few short weeks, it will be upgraded to iOS 7, making it more desirable than it is right now.

And in the build up to the iPhone 5S launch, and likely after it as well, there will be consumers that are debate between the very new and the very old, iPhone 5S or iPhone 4. Here, we take a look at some things those buyers need to know before buying one of those two devices.

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Design

The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to introduce a design that utilized Apple’s now well-known glass back. The design carried over to the iPhone 4S but has since been replaced by the anodized aluminum back that arrived with the iPhone 5, a much sleeker, arguably more durable design.

Rumors suggest that the iPhone 5S will be keeping the industrial design that is found on the iPhone 5 which means that we should see some drastic differences between the two.

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The iPhone 4 shares a design with the iPhone 4S.

For one, the materials will be different. While the aluminum has been shown to be less-than-durable, it is not susceptible to cracks and shattering like the iPhone 4′s back plate is.

Second, the dimensions will be different. The iPhone 5 employs a form factor that is both lightweight, it’s a mere 112 grams, and thin, it measures in at 7.1mm. The iPhone 4 is thicker and heavier as it checks in at 9.3mm thin and weights 137 grams.

Third, the screen on the iPhone 5S will more than likely be larger than the 3.5-inch Retina display found on the iPhone 4. Rumors suggest that it will keep the 4-inch display found on the iPhone 5S, possibly with some improvements, which means that the iPhone 5S should be taller than the iPhone 4 is.

Finally, expect the iPhone 5S design to employ the Lightning dock standard as opposed to the 30-pin dock standard on the iPhone 4. As we’ve pointed out, this likely means that the iPhone 4 will see less accessories going forward as accessory makers opt to produce accessories for Apple’s new standard.

Price

As it stands, the iPhone 4 is free through Apple and its various carriers and retailers. This is a tempting proposition for those that might be on the hunt now or in the future, after the iPhone 5S launch. The iPhone 5S will likely spell the end of the iPhone 4′s presence at most places but it should still be available through some retailers as they look to clear stock.

The iPhone 5S will most likely check in with a $199.99 on-contract price tag, like previous iPhone models, making it $200 more expensive than the iPhone 4′s price. So for those that are looking to avoid a large up front cost, the iPhone 4 will look enticing, but heed this.

The iPhone 4S will be a good pre-paid option but users will want to think about shelling out the $200 for the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 4S will be a good pre-paid option but users will want to think about shelling out the $200 for the iPhone 5S.

While the iPhone 4 might be free, it’s still going to require a data plan which will cost quite a bit of money over a two year contract, same as the iPhone 5S.

So what buyers need to weigh is whether the $200 discount and the lesser features are worth it. In the short term, maybe. But over the long haul, it might be worth saving up to buy the new iPhone as it not only comes with better features, but a longer life.

Of course, those who are willing to buy an iPhone 4 off of Craigslist will also have the pre-paid route afforded to them, something that might be enticing to those that don’t wish to sign a contract. It’s a route that has been less traveled in the past but it’s still one that should be considered if a $200 upgrade seems like too much.

Camera

The iPhone 4 camera was good, for its day. Camera technology in mobile phones though has come a long way since 2010 and the differences between the iPhone 4 camera and the iPhone 5S camera are going to be striking.

Apple’s iPhone 5S is expected to have a camera upgrade from the iPhone 5 that is in the 12-13MP range. It’s supposedly going to take far better photos in noisy environments as well.

The iPhone 4 camera simply won't match the one found on the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 4 camera simply won’t match the one found on the iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 5 camera is far better than the iPhone 4′s camera so it’s easy to think that the iPhone 5S camera is going to blow the iPhone 4′s out of the park.

That’s something that buyers who take a lot of photos and video will need to heavily consider.

Speed

Something else to consider is speed. The iPhone 4 had one of the best processors available when it first hit shelves but that’s no longer the case as the Apple A4 processor has since been replaced numerous times over. The iPhone 5S is expected either have the current A6X chip inside or quite possibly, a new A7 chip from Apple.

The iPhone 5S should be much faster than the iPhone 4.

The iPhone 5S should be much faster than the iPhone 4.

What this means is that gaming will likely perform and look better thanks to a better GPU. It also means that performing tasks like multitasking or simply opening up an application will be much snappier on the iPhone 5S.

Overall, expect a better and faster performance out of the iPhone 5S while the iPhone 4, especially after iOS 7, may see some slow down and signs of age.

iOS 7

iOS 7 is coming to the iPhone 4 though it won’t be the full update. The iPhone 4 will be getting all of the goodness of iOS 7 except for AirDrop, Panorama, Filters in Camera, or Siri, the latter of which never arrived on the iPhone 4.

It also won’t be getting any of the unique features that come to the iPhone 5S, said to possibly be tied into the fingerprint reader that is rumored to be on board.

Buyers need to be aware of the fact that the iPhone 4 will not only be getting a gimped iOS 7 update but that this is the software update they will be stuck on forever as Apple is unlikely to update it with iOS 8 and beyond.

Storage Options Limited

As of right now, the iPhone 4 is only available, new, in 8GB form. Those who are content with buying an old phone can find it in larger storage options. The iPhone 5S on the other hand should arrive in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB form at least which means that users will be able to get their hands on a new device with tons of storage space.

This is important because the iPhone does not come with expanded storage meaning on board space is critical, particularly for those that don’t want to depend on iCloud storage for support.

U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular has confirmed the iPhone for arrival later this year. The fifth largest carrier in the U.S. has not yet said which iPhone or iPhones it will be getting but the fact that it hasn’t released an iPhone yet is telling.

Prospective iPhone buyers should expect it to get the iPhone 5S at the very least and it may wind up carrying the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S as well as cheaper alternatives.

The iPhone 4 will more than likely be discontinued which means that there is little chance that it will arrive on U.S. Cellular in the future. That said, expect the iPhone 5S to be available on at least one more carrier than the iPhone 4.

LTE

The iPhone 4 does not come with 4G LTE data speeds which means it can’t pull down the Wi-Fi like speeds that the iPhone 5 can and the iPhone 5S will be able to once its released. Instead, users will be stuck on HSDPA, where available, and 3G where it isn’t. Even then, the iPhone 4′s antennas only support up to 7.2 Mpbs, far slower than LTE.

With LTE connectivity now commonplace, it’s certainly something that those leaning toward the iPhone 4 will need to consider. It really makes a huge difference, particularly on a smartphone, a device that users take everywhere.

Longevity

The iPhone 5S will be supported for years. The iPhone 4? Not so much.

The iPhone 5S will be supported for years. The iPhone 4? Not so much.

As we touched on before, the iPhone 4 is expected to be discontinued after the iPhone 5S arrives with Apple removing it from shelves and stock drying up in a relatively quick manner. This means two things.

One, the iPhone 4 will be tougher to find later this year so those who want it over the iPhone 5S should think about buying it soon. And two, it means that iOS 7 is likely the device’s last major iOS update. Yes, it will get iOS 7 updates, but it likely won’t get iOS 8 and beyond.

Apple typically keeps its devices updated for three years, a year longer than a contract, and that means that the end of the road is likely near for the three year old iPhone 4.

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This of course is great news for the iPhone 5S as it means that it stands to be updated for years to come, making a two-year contract a much more appetizing endeavor.

Comments

  1. Jroberts says

    Why are you comparing the iPhone 5S to the iPhone 4? Of course the iPhone 5S will have a different form-factor than the 4 – the iPhone 5 already does.

    Stupid article.

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