Xmas Q: Is the 73% price difference between iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 worth it?

I am due to replace my old iPhone 3G with a new handset. I plan to buy another iPhone – for cash. This requires that I think clearly about price I am willing to pay. My preference is iPhone 5, but the print advert in the image above got me thinking.

You see, I have had my iPhone 3G for the last 4 years, and it has served me well all that time. The greatest benefit I have enjoyed with this mobile gadget – as well as all my Apple products (I have a 6-year old iPod that works like a charm) – is consistent delivery and ability to upgrade to latest OS software.

iPhone 3G Screen Shot 25 Dec 2012

Thus, besides gadget-related features such as design, enhanced camera pixelation and dual camera lenses; I have not missed out on much else. Given that the iStore in South Africa still has iPhone 4 in stock, I am wondering whether it is worth paying a 73% price premium for iPhone 5. Answering 2 key questions below will hopefully help me make an informed decision.

What do I want to use the new iPhone for; besides making calls, downloading and using apps, accessing mobile internet, and using maps?

The new iPhone is going to be used predominantly for business – and this has been the case with my iPhone 3G. A key focus of my company, eNitiate Integrated Solutions, is content marketing. Thus, the following are major considerations:

  • A bigger screen that allows for easier, faster typing and posting;
  • Enhanced picture and video quality; and
  • Enhanced Internet speed.

What is the difference between the 3 iPhone models in the print advert; besides gadget designs?

Here I am talking about features that would make a tangible difference in my business life, in line with the needs identified above.

Perhaps the most distinct feature found only on iPhone 4S and 5 is Siri, a voice recognition feature that allows you to tell your mobile to perform selected functions as opposed to typing them. As Apple puts it – you can “talk to Siri as you would to a person”. I am aware that this feature is not working 100% at the moment, but this is the prize early adopters of  new tech features are prepared to pay. As for me, this new feature is not a deal maker.

iPhone 5’s processing performance is much better than iPhone 4, made possible by its A6 chip (the latter has A4 chip). This feature is necessary for the work I shall be using the device for.

iPhone 5 has a screen that is 123,8 mm in height, is 8,6 mm taller than the 2 earlier models. This makes iPhone 5’s display 6 mm bigger. I am not sure if 14% increase in size will make a marked difference. I might have to see the two displays side by side to be convinced.

iPhone 5 uses new LTE (Long-Term Evolution) wireless networks. This, in simple language, is the latest wireless technology that will increase bandwidth speed, making it possible to download Internet files such as videos at least twice as fast as 3G wireless networks. Great news is that my mobile operator, Cell C, is currently running trials on LTE. It should be not be long before this new wireless technology is widely accessible for compatible smartphones.

Related post: Why are broadband prices so high in South Africa compared to Kenya?

iPhone 5 has 8 megapixels (MP), compared to 5MP for iPhone 4 (iPhone 4S also has 8 MP). This enhancement is highly welcome.

iPhone 5 has more video recording features than both earlier models, including better quality due to higher HD, ability to take stills while recording and face recognition.

Lastly, iPhone 5’s battery life has mixed results, when compared to iPhone 4. However, I am willing to overlook this.

My verdict

The conducted research shows that iPhone 5 delivers against most of my key business requirements. Coupled with better quality pictures and enhanced video features, I shall also be able to generate more content on this device as enabled by enhanced processing speed, and I may end up saving on data costs due to usage of LTE that will lead to faster download speeds.

Question that still remains is whether that justifies the magnitude of 73% in price difference compared to iPhone 4?  I’ll use the remaining 6 days of 2012 to make up my mind about this (•‿•).


  • Nuffdotty – where thoughts on the subject of education, mostly relating to South Africa, are shared
  • Diski4Life – a blog about development of South African soccer post World Cup 2010



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