If you’re in the market for a new iPhone, which one do you get? It’s a tough question when you don’t know much about the devices that you’re deciding over, but hopefully this guide can get you going into the right direction.
Apple currently offers the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and the iPhone 4s, while the iPhone 5 is now discontinued, although you can buy one used pretty much anywhere online, most preferably on eBay.
The iPhone 5s is the company’s flagship device, while the iPhone 5c is the middle-of-the-road option that replaces the iPhone 5 (but is essentially the same device), and the iPhone 4s is the company’s entry-level budget selection. All four phones cater towards specific users, and we’ll tell you some of the differences between these device as well as which one is best for you.
While the iPhone 6 is most likely just a few months away, many users are eligible for an upgrade and are looking to get a new iPhone now; the iPhone 5s is still a really great phone and one of the top smartphones on the market, so it’s still a great time to upgrade. And even if you’re looking for a cheaper option, any of Apple’s older iPhones can still get the job done.
Starting with the iPhone 4, Apple changed the design of the iPhone by getting rid of the rounded edges and introducing squared-off edges with a flat back. Every iPhone since then has included this design.
The iPhone 5s, iPhone 5 and iPhone 4s, sport an aluminum band that goes all the way around the edge of the phone, with the iPhone 4s’s rear plate consisting of all glass. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s are both thinner than the iPhone 4s and opt for an aluminum plate on the back with plastic sections at the top and bottom to let the cellular antennae breathe.
As for the iPhone 5c, it sports a unique design that brings plastic back to the iPhone, which hasn’t been a thing since the iPhone 3GS in 2009. However, it’s a much tougher polycarbonate plastic that can withstand a few blows. The iPhone 5c also comes in five color options: white, blue, red, green and yellow.
While the iPhone 4s’s design changed dramatically over the iPhone 3GS, the size of the screen remained at the same 3.5 inches, but the resolution was doubled to 960×640, which marked the beginning of Apple’s infamous Retina display technology.
The iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c all sport larger 4-inch displays with a resolution of 1136×640 — same pixel density, but slightly more pixels to fill in the extra 0.5 inches. This change in screen size also changed the aspect ratio of the iPhone 5 and newer, making the screen more elongated than the iPhone 4s. In other words, the screen is still same width, but it’s a bit taller.
At 4 inches, the iPhone’s screen isn’t the biggest one on the market. In fact, it’s one of the smallest screens on a smartphone when compared to some of the other flagship devices out on the smartphone market, but Apple’s argument is that bigger isn’t always better. However, the company is rumored to be launching a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone later this year.
One area that Apple has dramatically improved on with each new iPhone is the camera. Granted, the iPhone has stuck with the same 8 megapixels ever since the iPhone 4s, but the quality of images has only increased.
A big difference, though, is the aperture. The iPhone 4s and the iPhone 5 and 5c sport a f/2.4 aperture, while the latest iPhone 5s has an f/2.2 aperture, which basically means that the iPhone 5s’s camera lets in more light resulting in better quality photos, especially at night in low-light situations.
As for the front cameras, the iPhone 4s is the last iPhone to be equipped with a VGA front-facing camera, meaning that photos and videos are limited to 640×360. However, starting with the iPhone 5, users are able to take 1.2-megapixel photos and record 720p video, which is mighty impressive.
Of course, the iPhone 5s comes with a ton of exclusive camera features, like automatic image stabilization, burst mode, and slo-mo video mode where users can record video at 120 frames per second and play it back four times slower than normal.
It’s pretty obvious that with each new iPhone iteration that comes out every year, the performance gets better and better. Every new iPhone has a better processor in it than the previous version, so it makes sense that the iPhone 5s is faster than the iPhone 5, and the iPhone 5 is faster than the iPhone 4s.
The video above does a great job of comparing the performance of all the iPhone models side-by-side and showing you that performance does indeed get quicker with every new iPhone.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that a side-by-side comparison isn’t necessarily the way to decide which iPhone to get based solely on performance, nor does it mean that you should pay more for the iPhone 4s rather than get the iPhone 4. That’s because the difference in performance between iPhone generations is quite negligible.
Does having Safari start up a split second faster really that fantastic? Of course, I’m not saying that Apple hasn’t boosted the performance of every new iPhone it releases, but most of the time, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Safari is just an eye blink faster on the iPhone 5s than on the iPhone 5.
Apple’s flagship iPhone 5s costs $199 after signing a new two-year contract, or you can buy it off-contract at full retail price starting at $649.
The iPhone 5c starts at $99 on-contract and $549 off-contract, while the iPhone 4s is free when signing a contract or you can pick it up for as low as $449 with a commitment.
The iPhone 5 is a slightly different story. It’s a discontinued phone, so Apple doesn’t sell it anymore and neither do any other stores. However, you can still buy them from the used market, where you can get a pretty nice discount from what it would usually cost brand new. In fact, you can easily find 16GB models selling for under $300 on eBay if you’re lucky.