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.