iPhone 4/4S/5: Side by Side by Side
Side by Side by Side by Mike Hill
After a long weekend of waiting, my new Iphone 5 finally came in Monday morning. I couldn’t wait to set it up and start shooting, I kinda felt like that troll thing from the Lord Of The Rings finally getting his precious. If you were uncertain on getting it because of the only slight changes to the camera, then this might help you make a final decision. I was skeptical at first on upgrading, since it was staying at 8 megapixels, that there was no reason to get it and I would just wait for a 5s or something with higher resolution. Well, It’s a pretty big improvement, and at the same time it’s not. First lets get all the technical “phone” stuff out the way, since that’s what some seem to think it is. I’ll be brief since we all really just care about the camera anyway.
It’s nice, or better yet great! Everything seems smoother and faster (cause it is) thanks to the new A6 chip. Apps load quicker, the camera processes photos faster and the speed on safari seems like it’s twice as that of a 4s using ios6, loading pages and websites is much quicker over wifi. The new LTE service is so fast that it was like I was sitting next to a modem using wifi. Even in a moving car (I wasn’t driving) it went directly to a website I pulled up shockingly fast. The screen is much more detailed and vibrant then the 4s and the higher screen resolution makes the photos seem more lifelike. But there is a problem I noticed with the screen I’ll mention below. The headphone jack has been moved down to the bottom, which I really like because now there’s no cord dangling over the phone. The new plug is a big improvement in my opinion, it’s now much smaller and has no specific right or wrong way to connect it, like the plug on the older phones how it has to be put in with the little design facing up, this ones reversible. Battery life claims to be better, I actually noticed no difference but I keep my screen brightness up pretty high around 85%. It is significantly lighter then before, a strong enough gust of wind could knock it out of my hand probably if I wasn’t expecting it. The sides are kinda sharp, holding it in my hand I could feel the edges were more rough then the 4 and 4s and because it’s lighter you feel the need to hold it a little tighter, which doesn’t help in this. A case will fix this obviously but mine hasn’t come in yet. Texting is faster, connecting calls are faster, blah blah blah everything is faster, surprisingly faster!
A problem though with the screen. I noticed a yellowish tint on, well, everything. Everything was yellower and greens were brighter. It’s not that noticeable, but to someone who edits photos on the phone it’s a pretty big deal breaker if the coloring isn’t on point. At first I just thought it was the new screen resolution that I hadn’t gotten used to yet but when comparing the same web pages between the 4, 4s, 5 and my pc I noticed it was way over saturated. So of course I panicked and started looking on the web to see if anyone else had this yellow poop. Aaaaannnd they did, there were tons of people reporting this same issue. Just google “iphone 5 screen yellow” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. They also say it happened with the earlier releases of the Iphone 4, 4s and Ipad 2, which I never got mine until a few weeks after the launch, so I was unaware of this. The issue seems to be that they use a glue to attach the screen to the body of the phone and it takes a little while to cure then it would go away. Some say this, some say it’s a design defect. I wasn’t sold on this glue thing so I took it to apple and they exchanged it for another new one, and guess what… Same thing. Of course Apple had no idea what was up. So I figured I’d just give it some time to see if this “curing process” has any truth to it. Supposedly it goes away after a week or so once it’s dried a little more and they (the people on the Apple message boards) say using your phone more and trying to get it warm will help dry it. So I figured I would just leave it in the car for about an hour, it gets hot in Southern Florida and worse case scenario it breaks and I return it again. Well after about an hour of sweating like a hostage in my black truck in southern heat I think it might have decided to take the hint, it’s noticeably better! so I’ll keep with this torture until color improves just ask me again in a few weeks, only time will tell I guess. But this to us mobile photographers is crucial. No way we could or should tolerate a yellow screen.
Moving on to the camera. Is it really better then the one on the 4s? Not really, or barely. The lens has been replaced with a new fancier one that’s supposed to be scratch proof. I’m not testing that, haha. But it’s supposed to make photos sharper and more detailed, and it does, but barely. They were more crisp and detailed even though pixel dimensions were exactly the same between the shots from a 4s and a 5 but not substantial. Photos process faster, as I said earlier thanks to the new A6 chip. Using the rapid fire mode (with high speed mode turned OFF) on the great camera replacement app Pro Camera, I was able to get 6 full resolution shots in one second on the iphone 5 and 3 shots per second on the 4s using the exact same setup in Pro Camera. There is slightly less noise and static in the background on the new camera. Go outside with your 4 or 4s, aim that bad boy up at the sky and take a shot. Now look at it and zoom in as much as you can, it gets kinda grainy. It’s still there, only slightly not as bad, but very hard to tell the difference. I’m not gonna pretend to know all the technical jazz as to why the grain is better, but it is, and I think you Apple. Processing, rendering and saving edits in apps is much much faster. I worried that my settings were off and they were saving at a low resolution at first cause it was so fast, but nah, all good. Did I mention this phone was faster? But here’s the thing, if you’re someone who is a heavy or even medium apper or editor, none of this will matter. This little bit of added clarity will only be relevant to those who use minimal to slightly edited processing. The low light sensor is slightly better. I was able to get better shots in low light situations, but I’m the type of cat that doesn’t shoot in low light, so I don’t really see this being a huge advantage unless you just want a better shot of you and your friends doing shots of whiskey in the local dive bar. but as far as a artistic edit, not likely. It has a built in panorama mode that I doubt I’ll ever use, it’s nothing special and there are some apps that already offer panorama anyway. Oh and the facetime camera has improved, it seems to be a little clearer, though I can’t say for sure.
Here’s a few shots I took for a comparison. Each were done using the native iphone camera. These were taken at noon under a overcast sky in slightly shaded area. The 4s and the 5 had the same pixel dimensions of 3264 x 2448 at a 4:3 ratio while the Iphone 4 was at 2592 x 1936
This first one below is from a Iphone 4. f-stop: f/2.8 exposure time: 1/331 sec. ISO speed: ISO-80
This next one below is from a 4s. f-stop: f/2.4 exposure time: 1/789 sec. ISO speed: ISO-50
This one below is from a 5. f-stop: f/2.4 exposure time: 1/616 sec. ISO speed: ISO-50
With the settings on the camera exactly the same and focused on the same area, the colors from the 4 looked very vibrant and the ones from the 4s just looked flat, while the 5 seemed to be a nice balance and looked more like what I saw.
These were taken outside at around 6:30 pm, I used a tripod and the native camera. I chose my prized Where The Wild Things Are figure to use cause of the texture and color on it against the blue wall so you can get a better idea based on the clarity. Once again the pixel dimensions on the 4s and 5 were the same at 3264 x 2448 and the Iphone 4 was 2592 x 1936
Below is a 4. f-stop: f/2.8 exposure time: 1/120 sec. ISO speed: ISO-125
Next is a 4s below. f-stop: f/2.4 exposure time: 1/120 sec. ISO speed: ISO-100
And next is a 5. f-stop: f/2.4 exposure time: 1/60 sec. ISO speed: ISO-64
Just like before, the 4 looked overly saturated, the 4s just flat and the 5 more like what I saw.
Here is the same ones cropped around the head and zoomed a bit.
And the 5 below
Once again, the 5 looked the closest to what I saw and the 4s was dull and flat, while the 4 was to saturated.
Ok so the night shots are supposed to be better. Here is the same shot outside about an hour later around 7:30 pm. Again on a tripod and using the native camera.
Iphone 4 below
Iphone 4s below
And the 5
The 5 is slightly better then the 4s. And the 4 is just horrible, it wouldn’t have even been possible without a tripod the shutter was so slow. Bottom line, always shoot in the light.
Here’s the panoramic option in the native camera. It’s pretty basic, if you’ve ever used a panoramic camera before this should not surprise you.
And this is the starting point of the panoramic shot in the 4:3 ratio
Here is a comparison between a 4s and a 5 of a blue sky, cropped and zoomed in a bit so you can see the grain difference.
This below is from the 4s.
And this is the 5.
The 5 is a little bit smoother, but not by much.
Here is my bottom line statement on the new hotness, the Iphone 5 – If you have a Iphone 4 or older and have the means, get it. You’ll be amazed by pretty much everything it has to offer. If you have a 4s and aren’t concerned with the new features of the phone aspect and are just wanting a better camera, maybe wait for the next one. If you have a 4s and want a better phone with a slightly better camera, and you have the means, get it. It is a great phone! Well, like I said, maybe ask me again in a few weeks and see if mines still got the canary yellow paint job across the screen first. And to be honest after reading back over everything I’ve just wrote and viewing the test shots, I’m considering returning it and reactivating my 4s.
*NOTE – I started writing this on Monday evening and finishing it up Wednesday evening I’ve noticed more of a balance in the color return to the screen. I compared it to my 4s and it’s still a little more yellowish but it’s not as bad as it was at first so there could be some truth to the glue theory or possibly the screen just needs to be broken in a bit. It’s still an inconvenience and Apple should have taken care of this instead of me having to place it in my hot vehicle for a little while at a time, which I have been doing.