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iPhone 4S vs iPhone 4 camera test

We compare the iPhone 4S' camera to that of the iPhone 4. Which is the superior snapper?

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luke-westaway-edit.jpg

Luke Westaway

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The iPhone 4S might look the same as the iPhone 4, but looks can be deceiving -- there's some potent new chunks of tech hidden inside its unassuming casing, and one of those shiny new components is an 8-megapixel camera.

Apple is making a big fuss of the new snapper inside the 4S, touting face detection, backside illumination (arf!), f2.4 aperture, the ability to capture snaps at a 3,264x2,448-pixel resolution and 1080p video recording as reasons to upgrade.

But is that a bunch of bluff, or is this camera worth splashing out for? Flick through our photos above to observe some test shots, taken on a sunny day in London, which should settle whether this new blower can trump its predecessor in the camera stakes.

We've also got short test videos of the same scene shot on both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 just below, for your screwy-eyed scrutiny.

Impressive

We were extremely impressed by the iPhone 4S' abilities, both in terms of still photography and when it came to video. The iPhone 4S handles colours delicately, with hues coming through looking very natural, much more so than they will on the iPhone 4's 5-megapixel camera.

The clarity in images is very impressive. Zooming in on a close-up photo will reveal loads of minute detail in every shot, and there's the potential to get some ace depth-of-field effects -- impressive for such a little snapper.

Video, meanwhile, is crisp and full of colour. We noticed some rolling shutter -- that's the effect that makes it look as though your video is wobbling like jelly when the camera moves, but it's not ruinous. There's the potential to get some great footage off this phone.

The iPhone 4S has another advantage over its older brother -- a more powerful processor in the form of an A5 chip. The extra grunt that chip affords caused the 4S to excel in our benchmark tests, and it makes taking photo after photo a speedy affair, with very little lag when you fire up the camera app, or finish recording a chunk of video.

All things considered, we judge this is a significant improvement over the iPhone 4's camera, and that was already rather spiffing. But with few other standout features, we're not sure there's much reason to upgrade to the iPhone 4S if you already own an iPhone 4.

Have you bought an iPhone 4S? What are your thoughts on the camera? Let us know down in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

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That previous photo was on an iPhone 4S. This is the iPhone 4 version. Colours aren't as natural, and there's less of the depth of field we like in the first shot.
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Colourful balls, captured on an iPhone 4S.
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And on the iPhone 4. Which do you prefer?
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Low-lighting time -- the iPhone 4S fares fairly well in the dark, this chair looks moody but not too terrible.
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The iPhone 4, meanwhile, does a worse job. Grainier than a silo at harvest time.
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Extreme low-light, this is a bubble-shaped chair in the dark.
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And here's the iPhone 4's effort.
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A closeup with the 4S.
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And again with the iPhone 4. Let us know in the comments section what you think.
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Here are some rocks, courtesy of the iPhone 4S -- impressively sharp.
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The iPhone 4 didn't handle them quite so well, as you can see.
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Observe a street scene, as observed by the iPhone 4S' camera. We like the reflections in the building here, and that it managed to capture the blue of the sky.
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The iPhone 4 doesn't get so much sky, and the colours are a little harsh.

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