Hosting and bandwidth provided by MacAce.net.
If you find this page useful, please
Bookmark & Share
What are all the differences between the iPhone 4S, the iPod touch 4th Generation, and the iPad 2? Which one is right for my needs?
Please note that this Q&A compares the iPhone 4S, at the time it was first introduced, to the iPod touch and iPad models that were current at that time. Apple still sells variations of all three devices, although some details have changed, and these details have been updated. iOS compatibility information has been updated, too.
When Apple introduced the iPad 2, Everyi.com provided a detailed comparison of the three iPad 2 models -- the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi), iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/GSM/A-GPS), and iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/CDMA/A-GPS) -- to the most recent iPhone and iPod touch models available at the time.
Although the iPhone 4S has some significant similarities to the iPhone 4 it relegated to "entry-level" status and the 2011 variation of the iPod touch 4th Gen is almost identical to its predecessor, a detailed comparison of the iPhone 4S, iPod touch 4th Gen (2011) and iPad 2 still can be worthwhile.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPad 2 and Smart Cover)
The iPhone 4S and iPod touch 4th Gen models each have a multi-touch capable 3.5" 960x640 (326 ppi) "Retina" display but the iPhone 4S is higher-quality with IPS technology for a wider viewing angle. The iPad 2 has a physically larger 9.7" 1024x768 display, also with IPS technology, but it is much lower density (132 ppi). The iPhone 4S and iPad each have "oleophobic" (oil repellent) coatings, the iPhone 4S front and back, whereas the iPod touch does not.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 4S)
The front of all three effectively are the display, and all are available with a black or white front, but the housing design and back material differences are notable. The iPad 2 has a glass front and a matte aluminum back (models equipped with 3G have a plastic area on the top rear for the 3G antenna), the iPhone 4S has a stainless steel "band" that holds a chemically hardened flat glass front and glass back and the iPod touch 4th Gen has a "mirror" reflective chromed steel rear case with a tapered rather than flat back.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPod touch 4th Gen - 2011)
The iPad 2 models also support a magnetic "Smart Cover" -- available at additional cost -- that protects the screen when not in use and automatically wakes up the iPad 2 when the cover is removed and puts it to sleep when the cover is attached. The Smart Cover is not compatible with the iPod touch 4th Gen or iPhone 4S.
Although these particular models are not difficult to differentiate from one another based on design, it is particularly easy to mistake the iPhone 4S for an earlier model or the iPod touch 4th Gen for earlier iPod touch models, too.
The iPad 2 (Wi-Fi), iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/GSM/A-GPS), and iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/CDMA/A-GPS) have model numbers A1395, A1396, and A1397, respectively. The model number for the iPhone 4S is A1387 and the model number for both the iPod touch 4th Gen is A1367.
If the devices will boot, it may be even easier to lookup any of these models by order number with Everyi.com's Ultimate iLookup feature or the EveryMac app. Apple refers to the order number as "Model" in software. To find the "Model" select the "Settings" app and then click General > About > and scroll down until the field is visible.
All three devices have two cameras. The front-mounted cameras on all three are of similar quality -- each take VGA quality photos and video up to 30 FPS -- and are designed to be used for video conferencing in conjunction with Apple's provided "FaceTime" software over a Wi-Fi network.
The rear-mounted cameras, however, are of differing quality. The iPhone 4S has a rear camera capable of shooting 8 megapixel stills and 1080p 30 FPS video whereas the iPod touch 4th Gen has a camera that is roughly a paltry 0.7 megapixels (960x720 stills) without a flash or autofocus support. For the iPad 2, Apple does not even bother to specify megapixels for its low-quality back camera, but it is of similar capability to the iPod touch 4th Gen camera.
All three have accelerometers that allow each to "know" whether it is being held in portrait or landscape mode and switch automatically, an ambient light sensor to adjust screen brightness, and a three-axis gyroscope that is particular useful for 3D gaming. All also have Wi-Fi -- 802.11b/g and the 2.4 GHz frequency of 802.11n for the iPhone 4S and iPod touch and full 802.11b/g/n for the iPad 2.
Otherwise, features are quite different between the three devices. The iPhone 4S has "phone" capability, mobile phone networking (3G/EDGE), GPS-A support, a digital compass, and voice control functionality. The iPod touch has voice control but lacks the remaining features (phone, 3G, GPS-A, and the digital compass). iPad models do not have mobile phone voice capability or voice control, but do include a digital compass. The higher-end iPad 2 models -- the iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/GSM/A-GPS) and iPad 2 (Wi-Fi/CDMA/A-GPS) -- have 3G networking and A-GPS as well.
The iPhone 4S and iPad 2 are powered by a dual core Apple A5 processor, although the iPad 2 is faster, whereas the iPod touch 4th Gen is powered by a slower, single core Apple A4 processor. Storage capacities also are different -- 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB for the iPhone 4S (16 GB only starting September 12, 2012), 8 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB for the iPod touch 4th Gen (16 GB or 32 GB starting September 12, 2012), and 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB for the iPad 2.
iOS Support & Software Differences
All three devices run both iOS 5 and iOS 6 and all three devices support wireless keyboards via Bluetooth or the Apple keyboard dock accessory, although naturally, with the physically larger display, the iPad is better suited for composing full documents (not to mention spreadsheets and presentations).
The iPhone 4S, however, is the only device of the three that supports "Siri," Apple's "intelligent assistant" software program, even when upgraded to iOS 6 (the iPad 3rd Gen models do support Siri running iOS 6, but the iPad 2 models do not). The iPad 2 models also do not support Panorama photographs.
Otherwise, the iPad 2 is fully supported by iOS 6, as is the iPhone 4S. Both devices support Turn-by-turn Navigation, Flyover, and Offline Reading List. The iPod touch 4th Gen models do support iOS 6, but they do not support any of these features.
Upfront pricing for the iPod touch 4th Gen and iPad 2 have no contractual strings attached. The iPad 2 models that are equipped with 3G capability are available without a contract. The iPhone 4S, on the other hand, can be purchased "unlocked and contract-free," but most likely will choose a contractual obligation with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon.
The primary differences between the iPad 2, iPod touch 4th Gen and the iPhone 4S are summarized below:
iPod touch 4th Gen
|Primary Functionality:||Fullscreen Web
Basic Video Editing
Basic Music Editing
Basic Video Editing
Basic Music Editing
Basic Video Editing
Basic Music Editing
|Display Size:||9.7" (1024x768)||3.5" (960x640)||3.5" (960x640)|
|Display PPI:||132 ppi||326 ppi||326 ppi|
|Oleophobic Coating:||Front||None||Front & Back|
|Housing Material:||Glass & Aluminum||Glass & Steel||Glass & Steel|
|Processor Speed:||~800 MHz||~800 MHz||~800 MHz|
|Processor Type:||Apple A5||Apple A4||Apple A5|
|RAM:||512 MB||256 MB||512 MB|
|Data Networks:||2G/3G* & Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi||2G/3G & Wi-Fi|
|Original Storage:||16, 32, 64 GB||8, 32, 64 GB||16, 32, 64 GB|
|Current Storage:||16, 32, 64 GB||16 GB, 32 GB††||16 GB|
|Talk Time (3G):||N/A||N/A||8 Hours|
|Talk Time (2G):||N/A||N/A||14 Hours|
|Music Runtime:||10 Hours**||40 Hours||40 Hours|
|Video Runtime:||10 Hours**||7 Hours||10 Hours|
|Rear Camera:||0.7 Megapixels||0.7 Megapixels||8.0 Megapixels|
|Voice Control:||No||Yes||Yes+ (Siri)|
|Shake to Shuffle:||No||Yes||Yes|
|Nike + iPod:||No||Yes||Yes|
|Original iOS:||iOS 4.3||iOS 5.0 (2011)||iOS 5.0|
|Maximum iOS:||iOS 6 (Partial)||iOS 6 (Partial)||iOS 6 (Complete)|
|Dimensions (In):||9.50 x 7.31 x 0.34||4.4 x 2.3 x 0.28||4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37|
|Weight:||1.33, 1.35, 1.34 lbs.||3.56 oz. (101 g)||4.8 oz. (137 g)|
|Current Price:||US$499-US$829†||US$199, US$249††||US$99§|
** Apple doesn't break out individual tasks for the battery life of the iPad 2 but estimates that it provides 10 hours of runtime over Wi-Fi and 9 hours of runtime over 3G.
† The iPad 2 with 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of storage and Wi-Fi is US$499, US$599, and US$699, respectively. Configured with the same capacity, but GSM or CDMA and A-GPS in addition to Wi-Fi costs US$629, US$729, and US$829.
†† The 2011 edition of the 8 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB iPod touch 4th Gen originally were offered for US$199, US$299, and US$399, respectively. The current 2012 models, which are the same except for capacity and tethering support, are available with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage for US$199 or US$249.
§ With a two-year contract with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon, the iPhone 4S originally was US$199, US$299 or US$399 for 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB, respectively. Starting on September 12, 2012, Apple instead offered just 16 GB of storage for US$99, but still subsidized by and locked to a two-year contract with a carrier.
Which one is right for my needs?
Ultimately, although the technical differences between the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone models continues to change, the target customer has not.
The iPod touch 4th Gen is best suited for those who want a handheld computer capable of playing music, displaying photos and videos, surfing the web, video conferencing, basic video editing and playing games.
The iPhone 4S also is a handheld computer capable of doing everything the iPod touch is capable of doing and then some with phone, mobile data connectivity, and GPS as well as a higher-quality display, a much better rear camera and convenient Siri support.
The iPad 2 is larger and is best suited for those who need portable -- but not handheld -- mobile Internet use, media playback, a digital book reader, as well as basic productivity and other applications in addition to convenient support of a full-size keyboard. As always, only you can decide which device -- or devices -- are best for you.
To dynamically compare any iPod, iPhone, and iPad models to one another -- new and old -- please see Everyi.com's Ultimate iComparison feature.