The iPhone 5s has some impressive new components, but when it comes to software, it hardly seems like an improvement over its predecessors.
Apple boasts about how the new iPhone has a speedier A7 chip, an improved camera with slow-motion video recording and the all-new Touch ID fingerprint scanner that can be used to unlock the device and verify purchases.
But besides those features, there is little difference in the software between it and an iPhone 5 that has been updated with iOS 7, Apple's new mobile operating system that rolled out Wednesday.
Even with the iPhone 4s, there is only one major difference after it has been updated with iOS 7: It doesn't have AirDrop, which comes with iPhone 5s. That feature makes it possible to quickly send photos, videos and other kinds of files to other nearby iOS devices through a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. It's Apple's response to the NFC technology on many Android devices, and it's supposed to be quicker than sending a text message or email with an attached file.
But besides AirDrop, there is no difference in software among the iPhone 5s, 5 and 4s.
So unless you absolutely want the latest technology and like holding a shiny new gadget, you may want to skip buying the iPhone 5s if you already own an updated iPhone 5 or iPhone 4s.
We'd only recommend buying the new phone if your device has really taken a beating and might break down soon or already has.
However, it's a different story for the iPhone 4. Owners of Apple's 2010 model will miss out on a bunch of useful features even with iOS 7.
The missing features include: no traffic information in the Notification Center, no panorama mode in the Camera app, no Siri and no AirDrop, among others.
With so many features missing, iPhone 4 owners may want to upgrade to the iPhone 5s.
As for those with iPhone 4s and 5, keep in mind that the new iPhone in 2014 will most likely come with even more features and probably a redesign. Apple tends to do a major overhaul every two years. So don't lock yourself into a two-year contract if you don't want to miss out on that device.
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