$199 iPhone 4S vs. $99 iPhone 4: What's the Better Deal?

The iPhone 4S is coming October 14th with a starting price of $199, and in its wake, the iPhone 4 will receive a price drop to $99. Now that what was new is now old, it helps to take a look at both devices and compare what you get for the price.

In terms of external design, the iPhone 4S closely resembles the iPhone 4, but with a host of improved internal components.  As you can see in our comparison chart below, for $100 bucks more,  the iPhone 4S will offer a faster dual-core Apple A5 processor, sharper 8-megapixel camera, and 8GB of more memory standard, but that's only part of the story.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Row 0 - Cell 1 Row 0 - Cell 2
Row 1 - Cell 0  iPhone 4iPhone 4S
CPU1-GHz Apple A4Dual-Core A5 Chip
OSiOS 5iOS 5
Display3.5 inches(960 x 640)3.5 inches(960 x 640)
Size(Inches)4.5 x 2.3 x 0.374.5 x 2.3 x 0.37
Storage(Included / Expandable)8GB16GB
Front CameraVGAVGA
Back Camera5MP (720p video)8MP (1080p video)
Battery Life(Rated)7 Hours8 Hours
CarriersAT&T, Sprint, VerizonAT&T, Sprint, Verizon

The iPhone 4S' new camera will be a deciding factor to some. It not only features a larger camera sensor than any other iPhone, but one that also captures 73% more light thanks to better backside illumination. During the keynote, Apple also mentioned that the shutter speed is 33% faster than on the iPhone 4, and that the camera speed is seconds faster than competing smartphones such as the HTC Sensation, Galaxy S II, and the Droid Bionic. The camera inside the iPhone 4S can also record 1080p video, up from 720p in the iPhone.

The A5 processor doesn't just improve overall performance and graphics. It also enables users to stream content from their devices to an Apple TV using AirPlay. It can be movies, pictures, a game, or a presentation. And it's a cinch to use this feature, just as on the iPad 2 (with iOS 5).

On the software side, the iPhone 4S will ship with iOS 5, while the iPhone 4 can install the update on October 12th. When it's available, iOS 5 will support a long list of new features including Twitter integration, an Android-style notification center, iCloud, and tons more.

During the Apple press event, one new iOS 5 feature really stood out amongst the others, and that's Siri, an intelligent voice recognition interface that's integrated across much of iOS. Phone users can ask Siri conversational questions such as "Should I take an umbrella today," or "Do I have any meetings this Friday at noon?" and the service will know to research local weather or check a specific time slot in the Calender app.

Unfortunately, Siri leverages the dual-core processor power available only in the iPhone 4S. iPhone 4 owners won't have access to this assistant.

On the plus side, the iPhone 4 (running iOS 4) does support voice commands for making phone calls, navigating music, and can even answer a question like "What time is it?" However, it isn't as intelligent as Siri, which can connect to Yelp to answer the prompt, "Show me nearby Greek restaurants."

The iPhone 4S is also unique in that it can switch between two antennas for sending and receiving data. Apple claims this boosts the max download speed of the device to 14.4 Mbps, up from 7.2 Mbps. This is on GSM networks, however, and it remains to be seen how much of a performance increase users will see in the real world.

Does all of that make the iPhone 4S worth an extra $100 bucks? For smartphone users who prefer a sharper and faster 8-MP camera, the answer is yes. The Siri assistant also sounds compelling, though it will be most useful to those who have a need or desire to use their phone hands-free. Of course, a $99 iPhone 4 with 8GB of storage, a 960 x 640-pixel display, and iOS 5 is still nothing to scoff at. If you're in the market for a smartphone and want to save $100 bucks, the iPhone 4 is easily the best phone in its price range.

Social Media Editor