Though it doesn't have the hype of Siri, the iPhone 4S' camera is one of its best features. Now with a resolution of 8 megapixels, the iPhone 4's shooter offers huge improvements over the iPhone 4's. It has an f/2.4 aperture lens, a sensor that allows 73 percent more light than the iPhone 4 camera, a hybrid IR filter for better color accuracy, and improved auto white balance.
I know that's a lot of techno-babble, so to show just how the iPhone 4S is different, I shot a series of 10 photos using both phones. I then showed the photos to Lori Grunin, CNET's senior editor for digital imaging. She was quick to reply that the iPhone 4S is vastly superior to the iPhone 4 in several ways. White balance is much better and the memory colors (greens and blues) are far more accurate. She also said that the tonal range for the 4S is more open, which gives the images a lower contrast and shows more detail. That's the brief scoop, but I added more observations throughout the photo gallery.
Here you can see that colors in the iPhone 4S image are very sharp. There's also great detail and little image noise.
Lori said that these night shots are a mix. The 4S looks like it's using a slower shutter speed, so there's more shake than from the 4, but the color and exposure are better. Note that the individual light points are pretty distinct and that even the tall building in the background is adequately lit. On the downside, the whole image has a grayish tint.
The image shows how less successful the iPhone 4 is at capturing light. The light points are fuzzy and they have a yellowish and less-natural color. The tall building is too dark and the street signs are unreadable even though I didn't use a flash. Lori also added that the cameras may be metering slightly differently.
I shot these photos with the zoom about halfway in. Lori said it shows how the iPhone 4S is simply choosing a slightly brighter exposure in some cases. But even the iPhone 4S can't correct the increased image noise from using a digital zoom.