The iPhone 4S may look identical to the iPhone 4, but that's where the comparisons stop. Under the hood, the iPhone 4S is full of hardware and software innovations that help Apple catch up with its rivals. Here’s how Apple’s iPhone 4S stacks up against its Android, Windows Phone 7, and BlackBerry competitors when it comes to specs.
The iPhone 4S arrives on October 14 (preorders start October 7).
Because Apple recycled the iPhone 4 design for the iPhone 4S, the new device can continue to claim the title of the thinnest smartphone in the world, according to advertising regulators, closely followed by the Samsung Galaxy S II. The iPhone 4S has, however, gained a little weight (increasing from 137 grams to 140 grams), making the Galaxy S II the lightest phone in this comparison at 122 grams (4.3 ounces).
The iPhone 4S features the same processor found in the iPad 2: the 1GHz dual-core A5 chip, which is on a par with the chip in Motorola’s Droid Bionic, and slightly slower than the 1.2GHz dual-core processor in AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy S II. The upcoming HTC Titan and the BlackBerry Torch 9850 (U.S. availability unannounced) do not feature dual-core processors; instead, HTC and Research In Motion used single-core 1.5GHz and 1.2GHz chips, respectively.
Apple didn’t say how much RAM it packed into the iPhone 4S, although it is expected to have doubled the amount from the previous model to 1GB. The Galaxy S II and the Droid Bionic (as well as most high-end Android phones) carry 1GB of RAM, while the single-core Titan and Torch trail with 512MB and 768MB, respectively.
Apple bucked the trend toward increasingly larger smartphone displays, and kept the iPhone 4S screen at 3.5 inches. In comparison, the Titan has a generous 4.7-inch display; the Droid Bionic sports a 4.3-inch screen, and the Galaxy S II offers a 4.27-inch one. Research In Motion went for a larger, 3.7-inch screen on the Torch, the biggest display on a BlackBerry so far.
Although the iPhone 4S has the smallest screen in this comparison, Apple retained the previous iPhone's Retina display technology, which has the highest resolution and pixel density out of the bunch. The closest match to the iPhone 4S in screen resolution is the Droid Bionic, while Samsung’s Galaxy S II has been praised for its sharpness and vivid colors. The HTC Titan has the lowest pixel density here.
The iPhone 4S features an 8-megapixel camera on the back, on a par with the Galaxy S II, Droid Bionic, and HTC Titan. Apple says it made several improvements to the camera lens and aperture, which should help users achieve much better photos--but these claims remain to be tested until the phone arrives in the PCWorld Labs.
The iPhone 4S can also record 1080p HD videos, as the Galaxy S II and Droid Bionic can. The Titan and Torch can record only 720p HD videos. Meanwhile, Apple kept the same VGA camera for video calls on the iPhone 4S--a similar resolution to that of the Droid Bionic, but significantly below the resolution of the Galaxy S II’s 2-megapixel front-facing camera. The BlackBerry Torch is the only phone in this comparison without a video-calling camera.