Last year when the iPhone 4S was first announced the Talking heads bemoaned how small an update the 4S was.  Which to me seemed way off the mark.  So I went and compared the new features to the iPhone 4 vs new features for the 4S.  You can see that comparison here.  But in a nutshell what I found was the iPhone 4S was just as big an upgrade from the iPhone 4 as the iPhone 4 was from the iPhone 3GS.  And essentially just because it was called iPhone 4S and not iPhone 5 - many thought it was an incremental update at best.  They were wrong.  

 

Fast forward 11 months and how does the iPhone 5 upgrade from the iPhone 4S measure up.  After all Apple said it was the biggest upgrade ever.  Well per the below chart you can see all the new key features for the iPhone 5, 4S and 4.  

 

Larger version here

 

At initial glance it seems to be a major upgrade - at "initial glance" that is.  But when you really look closely what I think you will see is that the iPhone 5 is really a smaller update than what we had with the iPhone 4S.  Blasphemy you say - well let me take this one step further.

 

Lets assign a score to each new feature.  And lets rate them as a +1 or +2 or +3 depending on if they are a minor, mid or major upgrade to the UI for the end user.  So for example with the iPhone 4 - the Retina display would be a +3, the 720p Video recording would be a +2 and the 4 element lens would be a +1.  By going through all the new updates for that version of the iPhone vs the previous - you get the results in the chart below. 

 


Larger version here

 

The iPhone 4's new features vs the 3GS give a score of +30.  The iPhone 4S's new features vs the iPhone give a score of +29.  This is very much in line with what we said a year ago - that the iPhone 4S was just as big an upgrade vs the iPhone 4 as the iPhone 4 was vs the iPhone 3GS.  

 

But when we look at the iPhone 5 - well it scores just a +25.  And that is giving a 0 score for the new 9 pin dock connector.  If you are someone coming from another iOS device - this likely would be looked at as a -2 or -3.  And then there is the movement of the headphone jack from the top of the device to the bottom.  Again this is not scorred - but if it was - it would be a -2 or -3 as well.  Wait until try to plug your headphones in and put it in a dock on your desk.  Yeah - that is going to suck.  So if you add in the minuses - what you are looking at is a score of +20 for the iPhone 5 vs +29 for the iPhone 4S and a +30 for the iPhone 4.  

 

If you are someone with an iPhone 4S - I just don't see how you can be as excited about upgrading to the iPhone 5 - as you were when upgrading from the iPhone 4.  Now that all said - if you are coming from the iPhone 4 or earlier or from an Android device - the difference will be that between Heaven and Hades - to pull a quote from a Samsung Executive.  

 

Calling it the iPhone 5 will cause many bloggers to report it as a bigger upgrade than it was - just like they belittled the iPhone 4S last year becasue it was called the iPhone 4S.   Isn't it amazing how much power there is in a name.  

 

 

.

Category:breaking news -- posted at: 5:30pm EDT
Comments[6]

  • Surely if the video stabilisation can be counted as a 3, then the new case design must be a 3 too. Plus with the iPhone 5, what about the new low lighting improvements? What about the fact that the iPhone 5 is also around 18-19% louder in the speaker system? How about the fact that the iPhone 5 appears much stronger in the drop tests? The earpods should also be worth more - they are amazing. Plus, at least according to the Apple commercials, the iPhone 5 defies the laws of physics, that has to be worth at least a 2.

    posted by: David McAfee on 2012-10-04 13:39:18

  • Any thoughts on carriers and what their offerings will be re: iPhone5?

    posted by: Sister J on 2012-09-13 15:27:16

  • I think you underestimate the value of a new case design. With the 4s you were walking around with what looked like a 1 year old phone. With the 5 its 'the thing'.

    posted by: paulose on 2012-09-13 02:55:45

  • Kevin - I put the "Thinner and Lighter" under new Case Design - along with No back glass. Per the dock connector - Again I think it could just as easily be a negative - especially if you have a bunch of iOS accessories with 30 Pin dock connectors. Yes down the line it may be a positive - but I think the negatives now - make it a wash best case. I do think the new design is pretty and sleek - and next year - for the iPhone 2013 - I look forward to getting the 2nd gen of this case design.

    posted by: rob@wizzard.tv on 2012-09-13 01:20:41

  • I think the smaller dock connector warrants a plus here. Yes, I understand the ecosystem issues. But for many many iPhone users all they do is plug it in. And a smaller dock connector is a plus. Similarly, go down the road a couple years - that connector will be a plus as well (as it become ubiquitous). "Thinner" and "lighter" and "no easily breakable glass on the back" should be BIG plusses for the iPhone 5.

    posted by: Kevin Crossman on 2012-09-13 00:20:40

  • Agree totally across the board Rob. Me personally, I never saw a "need" to upgrade to a 4" screen with all the compact power and the retina display being so crystal clear. Ido find myself try to convince(myself,lol) to pre order one anyway. Any words of advice? Love the show and everything you do.

    posted by: Amalio on 2012-09-12 23:41:49

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