What’s The Difference Between The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5? Cult Of Mac Explains



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.

Next Page: Which iPhone Will Apple Release In 2011?

  • humedini

    What is this article actually about? Just link bait, this site is easily one of the worst culprits on the web. Jokers, do some actual reporting.

  • Chris

    C’mon this site is pure Infotainment … if there’s no info, they just write ‘tainment

  • Mark Miller

    I personally think it’s a well written article that is to-the-point. Kudos to the writer! :)

  • Jonathon Wilson

    Used a lot of words to explain something really obvious. if its called iPhone 4S it will be slightly improved if its called iPhone 5 it will have better specs and will look a bit different.

    Why did it need 2 pages?

  • Aro

    ..what a “waste of reading time” article…

  • Figurative

    Of course, if Apple release a 4S phone in a few weeks – and then a 5 sometime early next year, there’s going to be a lot of peed-off customers.

  • MacGoo

    “to-the-point” ? 2 pages. Sorry.

  • Ed_Kel

    Is this a last-stand attempt to try and appease the reader base after CoM’s whirlpool of nonfactual, opinionated rumors that has left most of us with our heads spinning?

    Clear the air so to speak? I’m sure that it’s safe to say that most of your reader base already knows the difference between the two “imaginary” phones that haven’t even been announced yet. Put down the keyboards and wait patiently for Apple to announce the new iPhone(s), would ya?

  • MacHead

    “it was an exception to the way Apple has usually gone about naming things.” Do you know anything about Apple? Theres been one product that used the silly “S” in its lineup. iPod touch is now refered to by its generation. Same with iPad. And I dont remember hearing about Macbook Air”S” anytime recently. The S was an exception to the rule not the naming of the iPhone 4

  • Steven Zahl

    Definitely an iPhone with a Bigger 4″ or + screen will come out.

  • JohnZen9876

    my best friend’s mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. she has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. read about it here http://xub.me/me

  • Anonymous

    You mean besides the Apple IIGS, of course.

  • Dyl

    Honestly no one knows, no one, what Apple is really going to do. It is how they do things. People will say stuff and say that saw clues but if anything those are just there to throw people off.

  • remco lok

    i say, iPhone 4G !

  • Jay

    Sent from my iPhone

  • Aj Tk427

    Not a chance CoM and again if you applied any logic when you write these articles you’d do so much more for your website.

    If we’re only going to see a 4s, why delay until now??? Only to release a 5 as you write early in 2012?? You’d have a bunch of people that upgraded to the 4s or worse, going over to Android getting really, really angry, that would be a great way to kill brand loyalty.

  • kriswm

    If it were not for them loosing the iphone 4 last year in a bar, we would have had no idea what it looked like until it was released. There was no indication from the supply chains or case manufacturers to the fact that i had a different exterior physical design. So i’m confident that apple can keep a newly redesigned iPhone 5 under wraps if they wanted to.

  • Shaun

    Full marks to the “keep them all guessing” department within Apple. I never seen so many conflicting rumours about an Apple product this close to it’s launch. Usually by now we have a pretty good idea what’s coming. The iPad 2 leaks were spot on so maybe Apple has doubled their efforts to stop it happening with the iPhone.

  • TylerHoj

    Even with the first generation of the iPad there were only wild conceptual shots in the dark as to what it would look like. You make a good point. 

  • TylerHoj

    I’m sure Cult of Mac gets a lot of traffic from google and other search engines. Not everybody is in the loop, and although I already new this information, it’s always refreshing to put everything into perspective. 

  • Unis Zuurmond

    If there is an iPhone 4S AND an iPhone 5, it makes sense to announce both at the same time, even if the iPhone 5 will only be ready later, in order to not position the phones and to not upset those who buy early. Much like the white iPhone 4.

  • Mark Monahan-Rial

    It’s an article to show my wife :)

  • Evan Benford

    Apple could get away with naming their iphones off the generation path because the iphone 3G denoted the 2nd gen iphone. the 3Gs denoted the 3rd gen and the 4 simplified the naming as the 4th gen. If they only release the iphone 4S next month then the next big iPhone release (2012) would be called the iphone 6 to denote the 6th gen iphone. A jump from 4S to 6 is un-Apple like. How confusing would it be to denote the 6th gen iPhone as iPhone 5.

  • Evan Benford

    iOS 5 releasing with iPhone 5 sounds nice, youll here that in the keynote many times for sure. Apple knows they have to come out strong with the android onslaught occurring. If they diversify their carriers they have to give certain people a reason to get the iphone over the “other guys” by offering bang out design and specs (really just a bigger screen). Lets hope they didnt make us wait this long over some crap A5 heating issues.

  • Buster


  • Buster

    that was the plan. it was written for people who aren’t hardcore about reading apple news but have enough knowledge to confuse themeselves

  • hippcatt

    Losing patience. Been a huge Apple fan the past 5 yrs, and never got an iPhone. Finally want one. Will get the iPhone 5 if it is new design, but if only a 4S speed bump, then itz the Samsung Galaxy S2 Droid for me.  Yes, I will switch teams for that 4G beast, Pffft!

  • Guest

    If they release a world phone would that mean if you have an ATT or Verizon phone, you would be able to use it on the other carrier when your contract expired?  I would think the companies wouldn’t let you do that.  I still long for the day when we can just buy a phone and then use it on any carrier…(Cuz right now even the no-contract people really have a contract because if you just spent several hundred dollars on a phone, you’re not going to dump that carrier in a few months and then have to pay another few hundred for a new phone on another carrier – you may not have a 2 year contract but that is a quasi penalty).  It is incredible how good Apple is at keeping secrets and managing the media speculation and hype.  Id think the executives are laughing all the way to the bank.  IT does seem like the latest rumors are that an iphone4s would be released in October and then maybe an iPhone5 in 2012…(although would they release 2 versions in less than a year, and would they announce that now?  Who would buy an October iphone4s if they knew an iPhone 5 was coming in six months?)  Some even speculate that Tmob would get the 2012 iPhone and Sprint is getting the 4s now.  Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  • Guest

    just curious if you’re a heavy data user, would you choose iPhone even if it doesn’t run on the 4g lte network?  I don’t have a smartphone  yet so just wondering how important speed is to people.  Personally I don’t think I want to be so connected; I don’t have a need to be on the web 24/7.

  • Enmar68

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Not the iPhone 4 is not a good looking, phone but whole antenna-gate thing turned me off from upgrading my aging 3G.  If Apple keeps the same small, squarish screen, it’s going to start dating itself.  Most, if not all of iPhone’s major competitors have great looking and larger screens with a widescreen format.  It will be tragic if Apple doesn’t release a significantly redesigned iPhone.  It will also mean that my aging 3G may not soon see retirement.

  • hippcatt

    Not a heavy data user. Just sayin that I only want to get an iPhone if it is the redesigned version. 3G speed is just fine, but I will get a 4G Droid if no redesign.

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  • Macxapple

    i agree about this post :


  • Eric Ellis

    It doesn’t matter if it runs on LTE, heavy data users can no longer exist on AT&T or Verizon.  People are all up in arms about whether the device is 3G or 4G but it’s nothing more than hype and they need to get over it.  Unless you are going to tether your device, which cost a lot more, there is no purpose in worrying about it. 

  • steve

    spot on buddy

  • Mac John

    Iphone 4 vs Iphone 4s :


    enjoy :)

  • Biteme000

    Guess you don”t really know much.

  • Jessykipkirui


  • bestbatteryshops

    Great article! Will get the iPhone 5 if it is new design, but if only a 4S speed bump, then itz the Samsung Galaxy S2 Droid for me. read more: http://news.top-shoppingmall.c

  • Smriti Rawat

    Here’s one more interesting post on the differences between iPhone 4S and 4 – http://cellphoneswatch.blogspo

  • Fb Covers

    This is not even 4G phone. $100 for what. Some lame speech recognition software, which does not work well with people speaking with accent. I would like to see German or Korean to successfully use Siri. This phone feature is pretty much useless outside USA. I just got my Blackberry 9810 and got it for .01 plus I am getting $100 worth of free apps for last week network RIM network problems. :)

  • DBurg

    Blackberry is the worst smart phone on the market. I have the tour and I can not wait to get rid of it. Blackberry has horrible apps and the apps that were given so far should be free anyways.

  • meganorbert13

    want 4s for free? try wruu.info !!
    and hurry up!!

  • Cheri Aho

    i have an i phone 3 should i wait for the 5 or get an iphone 4s?

  • Jerome McWilliams

    Never getting a dime outta my pocket for this piece of shit excuse me to the creator of Apple but this is a sham for money. If any of you people buy this phone you are the stupidest idiotic buffoons in the goddamn world. All they did was update the camera, antennae and the processor. GARBAGE GARBAGE GARBAGE. I could open my iphone 4S And do that myself. Idiots.

  • Jerome McWilliams

    ..what a “waste of reading time” article…

    OMG Thanks. He even knows it

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