One of the things Apple really gets right is the streamlined names. Other companies add a bunch of confusing prefixes and suffixes to each incremental product change, but with Apple a MacBook Pro is simply called a MacBook Pro, and not a MacBook Pro 15XRCT. It cuts down on the confusion for some of us simpletons.
So if that’s the case, you might be wondering: what the heck is all this talk of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5? Are they the same device? If not, how are they different from each other? What does it all mean?
Well, it’s not as confusing as you think. Here’s the scoop on what all this talk about the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S is really about.
How Apple Chooses Its iPhone Names
The first thing to keep in mind is that while the iPhone 4 had a relatively straight forward name denoting it as the fourth generation iPhone, it was an exception to the way Apple has usually gone about naming things.
First thing to understand is that the next iPhone will be the 5th generation of the device. Just because it’s the 5th generation iPhone does not mean that its name will be “iPhone 5.” In fact, the iPhone 4 was the only iPhone with a title that reflected its slot on the generational timeline.
For example, when Apple released the 2nd generation of the iPhone they titled it the iPhone 3G because it was the first iPhone capable of using a 3G wireless network (more info on that here). The 3rd generation of the iPhone held the exact same form factor as the iPhone 3G. To denote a change of internal hardware Apple named the device the iPhone 3GS. The “S” stood for speed because the new phone had an improved processor, more RAM, and abetter camera.
So when Apple releases the next iPhone, it’s likely it’ll call it one of two things. It’ll either stick with the iPhone 4 and iPad 2’s naming convention and call it the iPhone 5. Such a device would likely represent a significant change to the external design of the iPhone. If the next iPhone is like the iPhone 3GS, though, in that it’s mostly a speed bump, Apple will likely fall back upon the iPhone 4S naming convention.
So when we talk about the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S, what we’re really talking about is what the actual next iPhone will look like, and what specs it will have.
The Difference Is In The Specs
Right now, if Apple releases an iPhone 5, rumor consensus says that it’ll have an A5 processor, an aluminum back, a wider screen, a capacitive home button, a thinner, tapered design and a better camera. If it’s just an iPhone 4S, though, what we expect to see is a phone that looks a lot like the iPhone 4, and differentiates itself with just an A5 processor, a better camera and an updated antenna design. It’ll also probably be a world phone, in that one device will work on both GSM (AT&T) and CDMA networks.
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