iPhone 4 vs iPhone 3GS

So Stevie Jobs has reached into his wizard's sleeve and pulled out...another iPhone! Who would have thought it after all these years of launching iPhones at WWDC and the fact that Gizmodo bought one off some geezer a good month or two before the announcement was made?

All the same, the iPhone 4 has arrived and people are going to want to buy it. Why not indeed? Now, that may be all fun and games for those with money to burn, but people still tied into a 3GS or without vast piggy banks might be wondering whether what they're missing out on is, well, worth missing out on. So, pound for pound, here's a comparison of the iPhone 4 vs iPhone 3GS so you can decide which is the one for you.

Looking at the specs, the move from the 3GS to the 4 is everything last year's 3G to 3GS wasn't. It's better in every department and considerably so too. With the Apple A4 system-on-a-chip running the show - the same one as at the heart of the iPad - the iPhone 4 has a processor running at almost double the speed and a far better graphics offering as well but it still has the same 256MB of RAM which is entrusted to deal with the addition of multitasking in the iPhone 4.0 software.

To cope with the strain, the battery is also 16% bigger as well. Don't be fooled into thinking that it means your phone will last longer because it probably won't. Video playback is the same, as is standby time. The only difference appears to be a couple of extra hours of 3G use and some more audio too.

If the iPhone 4 battery does indeed perform as advertised, then fantastic, but it might be worth just considering the new unit as the extra oomph to keep this handset with a faster processor powered for the same length of time. Most smartphones tend to give you one day of heavy use before they need recharging and that's the way it'll probably stay.

With all the extra space taken up on the inside while making the phone 25% thinner, something has had to give and one way Apple has saved on real estate is by using a micro SIM instead of a normal SIM card. What this means for the user is that it's slightly more complicated to put your own SIM card in there but it's by no means impossible.

So as well as the iPhone 4 being considerably faster and more powerful, Jobsy has also upped the ante with the camera as well. Yes, there are more megapixels to play with but the real boons are the addition of the flash and the bigger lens. One's going to mean that you can take photos where you couldn't before and the other, probably more important, is that all of your shots should be of a better quality.

Video capture also comes at a much higher resolution, but sadly there's not any more storage to save these larger files on even if there is a better screen to enjoy the playback. Just in case Apple were to be accused of still skimping on the imaging, the company has also banged in a VGA resolution front facing camera in the hope that video calling kicks off in the way it's failed to for so many years now. Who knows, this could be what finally gives it the kick it needs?

It's the display itself though where much of the attention will be lavished. With double the pixel density plus the introduction of in-plane switching technology in the LCD system, what's shown in the screen should really pop without any of the outdoor problems that the Nexus One or HTC Desire suffer.



Despite all these upgrades though, the only things the iPhone 4 has that the 3GS doesn't are the camera flash, a front facing camera and a gyroscope. Other than that, you're really talking about a difference in design and a difference in quality of what's already there.

If you buy an iPhone 3GS, you'll still be able to do all those iPhoney things that have made Apple so successful in the mobile market even down to the new and improved iPhone 4.0 OS, but you are definitely opting for a B-grade phone in comparison. There's simply no two ways about it. Almost everything that you can do on the 3GS, you can do better on the iPhone 4.

Now, that might not be an issue for now but with more APIs opened up, you're going to start noticing the performance difference as developers write more complex and brilliant applications that'll demand more from your phone. That S of the 3GS might seem a little out of place; with it once standing for speed. What's more. A lot of people buying an iPhone have got style on their minds too. If you choose the 3GS with its older design and more common looks, that's rather like wearing last year's clothes.

2009's decision between the iPhone 3G and 3GS was not quite so cut and dry but, if you can stretch it, 2010's looks like a no-brainer.