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iPhone Q&A - Published October 10, 2012

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How much faster is the iPhone 5 than the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4?

Please note that the iPhone 5 has been discontinued. The iPhone 4S still is available for sale new from Apple and the iPhone 4 is available for sale new from Apple in mainland China. However, this Q&A is up-to-date and is quite useful for anyone interested in purchasing any of these iPhone models whether new or used.

In the company press release trumpeting the introduction of the iPhone 5, Apple declares that the device provides "blazing fast performance" without mentioning specifics. Elsewhere, however, the company notes that it is "twice as fast" as the iPhone 4S model it effectively replaced.

The iPhone 5 has a custom dual core Apple A6 processor with a 1.3 GHz maximum clockspeed and 1 GB of onboard RAM. This compares to an earlier, but still dual core, Apple A5 processor with a 1.0 GHz maximum clockspeed and 512 MB of onboard RAM for the iPhone 4S and a single core 1 GHz Apple A4 processor and 512 MB of onboard RAM in the iPhone 4 models.

As the processors are different, it is difficult to know what to expect in terms of performance, but with twice the RAM in the iPhone 5, it is a safe bet that the device would be significantly faster than previous iPhone models. Exactly how much faster requires benchmark testing and real-world use.

Benchmark Performance Overview

For a solid general overview of the performance differences between the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 4 -- as well as all other iPhone models and the iPad and iPod touch lines -- Everyi.com's own Ultimate iComparison makes it quick to compare side-by-side Geekbench benchmark averages for hundreds of possible performance comparisons.

The Geekbench benchmark shows that the iPhone 5 is roughly 155% faster than the iPhone 4S and a massive 324% or so faster than the older iPhone 4 (GSM) and iPhone 4 (CDMA) models.

It doesn't take much evaluation to determine that "155% faster" already is a huge performance jump for the iPhone 5 compared to its predecessor.

Other Benchmark Test Results

Geekbench provides an easy-to-use standard to compare overall performance, but additional benchmarks also can be useful for additional perspective.

In addition to Geekbench, BareFeats hit the iPhone 5 with the GLbenchmark, Linpack, and Sunspider Javascript benchmarks and the iPhone 5 was dramatically faster than the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 in every test.

The complete results should be viewed for the full perspective, but in the Linpack benchmark, which "solves a dense N by N system of linear equations Ax = b" to simulate a common engineering task the iPhone 5 was "four times as fast."

AnandTech likewise subjected the iPhone 5 to a barrage of benchmarks -- Geekbench, BrowserMark, SunSpider Javascript, and the Google V8 and Octane tests -- and reported on average "we're seeing the iPhone 5 deliver 2.13x the scores of the iPhone 4S."

Real-World Usage

Benchmarks are an excellent way to quantify performance difference, but for how this speed difference "feels" in actual use, nothing beats a side-by-side video.

This video, from YouTube user DetroitBorg, does an excellent job comparing the speed difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S with benchmarks as well as real-world use with the camera, video editing, and games:

Performance Summary

Ultimately, Apple's claim that the iPhone 5 is "twice as fast" as the iPhone 4S is quite reasonable, perhaps even modest by Apple standards in recent years. Benchmarks definitely confirm that the iPhone 5 is at least twice as fast, and in day-to-day use, the iPhone 5 is noticeably faster, too.

When combined with faster 4G/LTE networking support, a modestly larger display, better cameras and a thinner, lighter housing, no doubt many will find the iPhone 5 to be a compelling upgrade.

Also see:

  • What are all the differences between the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 4?
  • What are all the differences between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s? What are all the differences between these devices and the iPhone 5 replaced?


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