News, , , , , , , , , , — October 6, 2011 15:53 — 0 Comments

The iPhone 4S: what’s under the hood?

Focus on the new iPhone 4S from a film-maker and photographer’s perspective. The Apple promo video below is worth watching for a good overview of what the iPhone 4S can do

● This post was updated on Friday 7 October 2011

As soon as the iPhone 4S was announced experts began pouring over the spec detail and delving under the bonnet to see exactly what has changed.

We know from the launch this week that the iPhone 4S will include a faster processor, higher storage capacity and better camera, along with the much vaunted artificial intelligence feature, Siri, which brings the personal assistant to your smartphone. Hmm, not sure about that one …

There are lots of comments on the internet on the wider features of the new iPhone, but here we will look at what is important to us – the camera.

The 4S ships with an 8 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor that records 1080p video at 30 FPS. With an f/2.4 aperture and a gyro for video stabilization.

Pretty neat – and now the iPhone 4S may even equal the excellent Nokia N8 (which features a 12 megapixel camera) for picture quality.
apple iphone 4S

The new iPhone 4S may look exactly like the iPhone 4, but Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller described it at the launch as ”entirely new on the inside”. The new phones will run on iOS 5, the latest version of the iPhone operating system, for example.

Keeping the same size and shape is good news for some: it means that accessories and gizmos such as the OWLE bubo for iPhone 4 will still fit the device, but a disappointment if you were expecting a larger screen.

The iPhone 4S sticks with the 3.5 inch display – again good news for app developers as a different screen size would have caused havoc in the industry.


In his recent blog 3.5 Inches Dustin Curtis explains the reasons exactly why Apple stuck with the same screen size — and he  also provides a helpful illustration.

I’ve been wondering why Apple chose to make the iPhone 4′s screen 3.5-inches when other comparable phones with Android and Windows Phone 7 have larger, more inviting screens. When you first see a phone with a 4-inch or larger screen, it seems like a much better experience. I thought it was a technical decision, and it could be, but since switching to an Android phone — a Samsung Galaxy S II, the “best Android phone you can buy, anywhere” — 15 days ago, I have realized another huge downside of larger screens: when holding the phone with one hand, I can’t reach the other side of the screen with my thumb.


iphone scree

Does size really matter? Photo: Dustin Curtis

So, in some ways consistency is key. The iPhone screen already features an 800:1 contrast ratio and 960x640p resolution that Apple’s technical experts say is more than the human eye can process at that size of screen, and chose not to replace it.

What is an improvement, of course, and will be widely anticipated by smart moviemakers, is the new iPhone’s 8 megapixel camera with a backside-illuminated(BSI) CMOS sensor.

The sensor is believed to be the Omnivision OV8830, as reported by earlier this year. Omnivision will supply 90% of CMOS sensors for the device, while Sony is said to be furnishing the remaining 10%.

The iPhone 4S has improved image data transport and processing time and if you are shooting stills it will take just 0.5 seconds to take the next image.

What we really dig is the 1080p video capture, gyro image stabilization in video-mode, so ‘no more shaky footage’? I think that depends on the camera operator.

Apple also claim that the iPhone 4s will improve picture sharpness by 30%, and we’ll see soon enough. What is a fact is the iPhone 4S’s F2.4 lens has a wider aperture than most cameraphones – and together with the improved sensor, it should perform well in low-lightsituationsand at quick shutter speeds.

Does the pixel count matter?

The iPhone 4S’s 8 megapixel camera has 60% more pixels than its predecessor, but whether that is an advantage or not without a bigger sensor is another moot point as more megapixels don’t necessarily mean improved picture quality.

The photos posted to Apple’s website are advertised as ”unretouched photos taken using iPhone 4S.” The images feature a resolution of 3264 x 2448.

The iPhone 4S will launch 14 October, but preorders start 7 October. No doubt the iPhone 4S will prove to be massively popular both as a must-havestatussymbol — and a work tool for seriousfilm-makerswhocansee the real potential of a good camreaphone.

● The iPhone 4S will run on iOS 5 operating system; check out this Macworld article for the lowdown and details of upgrading your existing phone:

iOS 5: What you need to know

How the iPhone 4S compares to its rivals

How the iPhone 4S compares to its rivals

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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