Entries tagged as iPhone 5S

Comparing iPhone 7 camera with older gen (Outdoors)

Sunset - iPhone 7 - October 4, 2016

It is pretty safe to assume that the latest iPhone has the best camera in general. The tradition continues with iPhone 7, which allows me to take impressive photos like the one you see here. But to truly appreciate the improvements, a good round of comparison is in order.

First, let's look at the basic specifications as reported by the EXIF data. For the rear camera, we have these values:
Device Focal Length
35mm Equiv.
iPhone 7 3.99 28 1.8 4032x3024
iPhone 6S+ 4.15 29 2.2 4032x3024
iPhone 6+ 4.15 29 2.2 3264x2448
iPhone 5S 4.15 29 2.2 3264x2448
iPhone 5 4.12 33 2.4 3264x2448
iPhone 4S 4.28 35 2.4 3264x2448
iPhone 4 3.85 35 2.8 2592x1936
iPhone 3GS 3.85 35 2.8 2048x1536

And for the front camera:
Device Focal Length
35mm Equiv.
iPhone 7 2.87 32 2.2 3088x2320
iPhone 6S+ 2.65 31 2.2 2576x1932
iPhone 6+ 2.65 31 2.2 1280x960
iPhone 5S 2.15 31 2.4 1280x960
iPhone 5 2.18 35 2.4 1280x960
iPhone 4S 1.85 35 2.4 640x480
iPhone 4 3.85 35 2.4 640x480
Last year's rear camera was mostly about the increased pixel count; with the quality improvement taking a back seat. Front camera did jump out of the 1.2-megapixel hole, which was overdue. This year, enhancing the image quality is back in focus. The sensor can now capture on a much wider colour space (DCI-P3, a.k.a. Display-P3, instead of the traditional sRGB), and the wider aperture on the new rear lens (f/1.8, up from f/2.2) should allow for lower noise and brighter night shots. Meanwhile, the front camera can now take 7-megapixel photos.
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Performance of iPhone 7 compared to older iPhones

iPhone 4S, 5, 5S, 6 Plus, 6S Plus, and 7 readying to run GeekBench 4

Smartphone software and hardware become more sophisticated by the year. So a new device is expected to be faster than its predecessor. But it's a balancing act of both raw performance and power consumption. The A10 Fusion chip in the iPhone 7 series has four cores - two high-performance cores and two power-efficient cores to do just that. It's supposed to be the fastest A-series chip yet while not impacting battery life. So how does it really do on performance? Apple claims up to 2 times faster for CPU and 3 times faster for GPU compared to 2 generations ago (iPhone 6 series). Let's see if that's true.

GeekBench 4.0.1 results for iPhone 4S, 5, 5S, 6 Plus, 6S Plus, and 7
GeekBench 4 Result Details: 4S | 5 | 5S | 6+ | 6S+ | 7

GeekBench has been a standared in benchmarking CPU performance across many platforms. The 4.0.1 version that came out recently runs on iOS 9 or later, so I can only compare up to iPhone 4S. Still, you can see that iPhone 7 does indeed perform well. It is about 2.1 to 2.2 times faster than iPhone 6 Plus, and 35 to 40 percent faster than iPhone 6S Plus. We no longer have 2x performance jump like back in iPhone 5 - 5S transition, but things are in line with Apple's claim here.
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iPhone 7's boot time & home button

Family portrait of the 8 generations of iPhones
Top row runs the older iOS: iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4S
Bottom row runs the latest iOS: iPhone 5, 5S, 6 Plus, 6S Plus, and 7

My iPhone collection is constantly growing. When you lay them down like this with their boxes, it provides me with a nice view of how the technology is evolving. As with all things, though, old devices simply ceases to be supported by the manufacturer. The three iPhones at the top no longer receive any major iOS version updates and are stuck in their time. The new member of this is the iPhone 4S, topping out at iOS 9.3.5. I expect iPhone 5 to join this group next year because, along with iPhone 5C, it is the last in the line of 32-bit iPhones and iOS 10 visually warns about an app that's not 64-bit.

iOS updates or not, all my devices are kept in good working condition. So I brought them out for another annual round of tests. For this year's tests, devices from iPhone 5 to 7 had iOS 10.0.1. 4S, 4, and 3GS had 9.3.5, 7.1.2, and 6.1.6, respectively. Last year, devices from iPhone 4S to 6S Plus had 9.1. Let's take a look at the boot times.

Unless it's an old device that's feeling the weight of a new OS, newer devices tend to have a quicker boot time. Strangely though, iPhone 7 does not boot up as fast as its predecessor, and this was repeatedly observed. Perhaps this is due to the tested device having a large, 256GB storage and the system taking its time to test its integrity.
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Comparing 7 iPhones: Battery (Part 2 of 2)

Shortly after finishing the battery tests for the earlier post, iPhone 4S and later generations received the iOS 9.1 update. Then the thought crossed my mind that I should have tested the "Low Power Mode" introduced with iOS 9. It's a feature touted as enabling you to use the phone up to an hour more by cutting off some background activities, reduce the screen brightness, and slow down the processor. Would it equally benefit different generations of the iPhones? I ran the GeekBench 3 again to find out.

Here, the only major differentiating factor would be the processor speed because the iPhones were in airplane mode and the screen brightness was manually set to lowest like the previous tests. I did re-run the tests for the 'normal' mode because the iOS version was changed from 9.0.2 to 9.1. And as always, the values are normalized to the designed battery capacity.

Low Power Mode's effects in GeekBench 3 battery test times (normalized)

Power Mode iPhone 4S iPhone 5 iPhone 5S iPhone 6 Plus iPhone 6S Plus
Default 04:29:00 02:59:20 02:25:00 05:01:10 07:56:10
Low Power 04:26:30 04:36:20 03:40:10 07:15:10 10:34:00

This revealed that Apple's claims were not overblown. With the exception of iPhone 4S, the iPhones indeed lasted significantly longer under Low Power Mode: about one and a half hours with 5 and 5S, and about two and a half hours with the Plus phones, which are around 30 to 50% gain. It seems that the processor is clocked down to squeeze out as much battery time as possible. On the other hand, the processor for 4S can't seem to throttle back for this mode, resulting in practically no changes. This means that for 4S, the real-life battery savings would have to come from other tweaks.

Low Power Mode's effects in GeekBench 3 battery test scores (normalized)

And if we measure how much work is done with each mode, it gets more interesting. It confirms that the 4S isn't doing anything different, while iPhone 5 seems to fully trade battery time for speed. Meanwhile, the newer generations are able to do more work under the Low Power Mode. This means that if the tasks you do a lot on your phone isn't impacted too much by this mode, it might not be a bad idea to keep this mode on while you do those things if you want to maximize battery life.
Continue reading "Comparing 7 iPhones: Battery (Part 2 of 2)"

Comparing 7 iPhones: Battery (Part 1 of 2)

iPhone 4S, 5, 5S, 6+, and 6S+ running GeekBench 3 battery test

Battery life is something most smartphone users take a big interest in, sometimes more than the raw performance. What good is a fast phone if you can't use it long enough without recharging? For iPhones, this is especially important because you can't swap out the battery without disassembling. So I decided to test this as the time allowed.

Now, each of my iPhones had been used for wildly different lengths of time, so the level of remaining battery capacity would be different as a result. This would obviously affect the tests, so I checked the capacity using iBackupBot, as you can see here.

Device Design (mAh) Actual (mAh) Ratio
iPhone 6S+ 2725 2800 102.8%
iPhone 6+ 2855 2800 98.1%
iPhone 5S 1550 1400 90.3%
iPhone 5 1430 1400 97.9%
iPhone 4S 1430 1300 90.9%
iPhone 4 1420 1347 94.9%
iPhone 3GS 1200 1075 89.6%

Fortunately, batteries were mostly in good condition, having 90% or more capacity left. The brand new iPhone 6S Plus actually had slightly more than it should. Still, the difference is non-negligible. So the results of my battery tests would be normalized to the design capacity to make the comparisons fair. The 6S Plus results would be lowered a bit while the others would be boosted, all according to their respective ratios.

For a heavy-load scenario like playing a game, I used the battery test included with GeekBench 3. This is available for version 3.3 and higher, so iPhone 4 and 3GS, which can only run lower versions, had to be left out. With this test, airplane mode was turned on and the low power mode was turned off. To see how much effect the display backlight has, the test was run with both lowest and highest brightness settings.

Normalized battery duration of the iPhones measured by GeekBench 3

Screen iPhone 4S iPhone 5 iPhone 5S iPhone 6 Plus iPhone 6S Plus
Dimmest 04:34:10 03:12:50 02:57:20 05:01:20 07:54:00
Brightest 03:15:30 02:56:10 02:44:20 03:56:40 04:20:30

With the screen brightness lowered, iPhone 6S Plus pulls ahead of all other previous generations. It's an impressive feat, beating the 6 Plus at the second place by about two and a half hours. The gap significantly narrows with full brightness, but it still manages to stick around slightly more. Considering that this is done with 5% less design capacity, it's certain that the 6S Plus is quite efficient despite all the enhanced performance.

Meanwhile, the battery capacity of the Plus series is so large that it has enough power left over even after driving a bigger backlight and much more screen pixels. Overall, the Plus series lasts noticeably longer than the predecessors. Curiously, the 5 and 5S don't show much difference in regards to the screen brightness compared to the other models. It seems the characteristics of the screen used for these devices were different.
Continue reading "Comparing 7 iPhones: Battery (Part 1 of 2)"

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