iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4: Did Apple Deliver A Worthy Upgrade Over Android and Upcoming WP8 SuperPhones?

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News Posted: Sat, Sep 15 2012 2:49 PM

To much fanfare, Apple unveiled its iPhone 5 earlier this week, and as expected, pre-orders turned into back-orders mighty fast. It goes without saying that the latest iPhone is going to sell well - potentially better than anything else out there - but how does it compare to the other top-dogs in the smartphone race?

With the help of the table below, that's what we're here to evaluate. This isn't a comparison between operating systems and user interfaces, because whether one is better than the other is based on a number of metrics, including personal taste. Instead, let's look at the hardware. Does the iPhone 5 feature game-changing technology such that iPhone 4S owners will be jonesing to upgrade, while Android and Windows Phone 7 users will be tempted to migrate to Apple or hold off until Windows Phone 8 goes prime time?

That depends. Apple likes to play coy, leaving out certain details about its new products, and the iPhone 5 is no exception. We know it has a brand-new A6 SoC, but its characteristics will be left to the benchmarks and test analysis in the days ahead. Apple has touted that A6 is much faster, however, especially so where graphics are concerned.

Apple's iPhone 5

Versus the iPhone 4S, Apple's latest improves the display in a rather significant way. It increases in size from 3.5" to 4.0", but manages to retain the same 326 pixels per inch, thanks to its higher 1136x640 resolution. WiFi on the iPhone 5 has been upgraded to dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n, the front camera features an improved 720p resolution, 4G LTE support is packed in and it also includes a brand-new (and smaller) dock connector dubbed "Lightning".

  Apple iPhone 5 Nokia Lumia 920 Samsung Galaxy S III
Operating System iOS 6 Windows Phone 8 Android Jelly Bean (4.0.4, upgradable to 4.1 in Oct)
Size 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30" 5.12 x 2.79 x 0.42" 5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34"
Weight 112g 185g 133g
Display 4" @ 1136x640 (326 ppi) 4.5" @ 1280x768 (332 ppi) 4.8" @ 1280x720 (306 ppi)
Display Type IPS Retina IPS HD Super AMOLED
Battery Up to 8 hours LTE; 10 hours WiFi 2,000mAh Up to 11 hours talk/data, 2,100mAh; user-replaceable
Storage 16, 32 and 64GB 32GB 16 and 32GB (64GB in Oct)
microSDXC support
Wireless GSM model A1428:
UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz);
LTE (Bands 4 and 17)

CDMA model A1429:
CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz);
UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz);
LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)

GSM model A1429:
UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz);
LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5)

Bluetooth 4.0

802.11 a/b/g/n dual-band
GSM: Yes, Specs TBA

HSDPA: Yes, Specs TBA

LTE: Yes, Specs TBA

Bluetooth 3.1

802.11 a/b/g/n
GSM, GPRS, EDGE: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz

HSPA+: 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100MHz

LTE: Yes, varies

Bluetooth 4.0

802.11 a/b/g/n

Processors Apple A6 Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 SoC
Qualcomm Krait; Quad-Core @ 1.5GHz - Adreno 225 GPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 SoC
Qualcomm Krait; Quad-Core @ 1.5GHz - Mali-400MP GPU
RAM 1GB 1GB 1GB (International) or 2GB (NA, KR, AU and JP)
Price $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB) on contract
TBA $179 - $199 (16GB) on contract

Among these top-flight phones, Apple's is the smallest in every regard; weight, height and thinness - though Samsung's Galaxy S III does come close. All three offer excellent high resolution displays, though if Nokia's Lumia 920 ships with its rumored 1280X768 display, it'll actually manage to beat out the iPhone 5 - even if just barely.

With its iPhone 5, Apple finally joins the LTE party, and overall, its wireless support is excellent. It should be noted however that like most other phones, including the Galaxy S III, support will differ based on region. As an added note, it has been discovered that when using LTE with either Sprint or Verizon, you will be unable to use voice and data at the same time. This was a conscientious decision by Apple, as it would have had to add special hardware to the phone just to make up for these carriers' shortcomings. However, competing phones do not suffer this issue, as they do implement a workaround (adding another antenna). If you require data while using voice, this could greatly affect whether or not the iPhone 5 is for you.

It's fairly clear the iPhone 5 is a fairly nice upgrade to the 4S, but does it trump the competition? In some ways, it does. If size matters to you, Apple currently offers the best option, so long as you're not looking for a larger display. In terms of performance, we'll assume for now that Apple's A6 will perform similarly to the Qualcomm SoCs used in both the upcoming Lumia 920 and Galaxy S III.  Display-wise, resolutions are similar, with both Apple and Nokia offering industry-leading pixel density.

Samsung's Galaxy S III

Nokia's Lumia 920 will come in a single 32GB flavor, while Apple and Samsung offer 16 - 64GB. However, for those who like extra storage, the expandability of the Galaxy S III is hard to ignore. While usually slower than on-board flash storage, it's much less expensive to expand your storage with an add-in card, than it is to upgrade to the next highest model phone.

Which phone, then, should you opt for? That's a difficult question to answer, because based on what we know of all these phones, which doesn't include performance from the iPhone 5, all are very attractive. It's really going to boil down to your choice of OS. If you're already an iPhone user, the 5 is a solid, appreciable upgrade if you're looking for a performance increase, a bigger screen and LTE support. Some users may be personally drawn to the Galaxy S III because they've come to appreciate the flexibility of Android. There's also the addition of NFC that helps set that phone apart - a feature Apple has once again proven it believes isn't something customers want. While it's not a hugely popular feature at the moment, it is one that may help you future-proof a bit if you're not usually quick to upgrade your phone.

It's hard to ignore forthcoming Nokia's Lumia 920, however. The device should offer excellent specs, but it's not out for another month - and even then, its success will be dependent on Windows Phone 8. If Microsoft's new smartphone OS delivers on all of its promises, it could very-well by the sleeper product of Q4 and intrigue consumers on the fence to jump ship from their respective platforms. Smartphone-wise, this is going to be a very interesting holiday buying season.

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JFarrell replied on Sun, Sep 16 2012 11:00 AM

Any PDA with more and better pixels and an interface that does no further insult to human sensory capabilities is worth buying.

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Display Type: IPS Retina? No. It is just IPS. Retina is a marketing term, not a technology. Nokia is retina too by the definition.

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Retina, LOL

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RWilliams replied on Sun, Sep 16 2012 5:01 PM

Good point on the retina mention. It just happens to be what the panel is touted as, so I left it. With the Lumia having an improved PPI though, I wonder if Apple would mind it adopt a Retina+ moniker?

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RiCoFrost replied on Sun, Sep 16 2012 7:43 PM

For me not a chance, Nokia's Lumia 920 for me thanks :)

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Sep 16 2012 8:19 PM

It's understood that Retina is not a display type and it's just IPS, but this is what Apple lists in their specs. We listed it that way to be consistent. To be honest, they don't even list IPS in their display type spec. We put that in there. Regardless, glad to have amused you.

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rapid1 replied on Sun, Sep 16 2012 11:27 PM

I would easily rather have a Galaxy SII or any other quad core ddr2/3 (3 preferably) Android. Of course I am thinking Galaxy Note 2 is also a very nice looking Samsung device.

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LWeng replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 3:47 AM

dual sim cell phone

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MCaddick replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 6:42 AM

Can't wait for the 920. Pity there is no microSD slot like there will be in its smaller brother the Lumia 820.

I can't believe that apple is continuing with its retarded 'screen rising above the outer casing' design. Fantastic way to make sure that as many phones as possible end up with smashed screens and add to apple's bottom line as people foolishly replace phone after phone.

But hey, at least the back isn't fragile glass too this time.

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SGomz replied on Mon, Oct 15 2012 7:42 AM

I bought my iphone 5 two days ago, and I really regret I did it so late. The device is the best one I ever touched and used.If any one still using iphone 4s then i would suggest to upgrade it with iphone 5 .The iphone 4s is selling for $361.47 according to this price report http://www.movaluate.com/apple/iphone-4s-32gb-att-black

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