iPhone 4S Camera Review: Photos and Video

This isn’t a general review of the iPhone 4S. This review will provide information on file sizes for iPhone 4S photos and video, which is the main focus, as well as a quick visual comparison of examples from the 3GS and 4S…

iPhone 4S photo and video file sizes

One of the key reasons that I wanted to upgrade from the 3GS to the 4S was the camera. Having seen the difference between the 3GS and the iPhone 4 – I was particularly interested when the 4S camera was hailed as being a significant upgrade from the 4…

But moving from the 3GS, how much bigger would the video (and photos) be? Could I get away with the 16GB option, or is 32GB a requirement for me?

Here is an overview of the file sizes, comparing the 3GS, the 4 and the 4S:

Photo file sizes

  • iPhone 3GS: 1 MB – 1.5 MB per photo (3 megapixels)
  • iPhone 4: 1.5 – 2.5 MB per photo (5 megapixels)
  • iPhone 4S: 2.5 – 3.5 MB per photo (8 megapixels)

Video file sizes

  • iPhone 3GS: approx. 27 MB per minute of video
  • iPhone 4: approx. 83 MB per minute of video
  • iPhone 4S: approx. 180 MB per minute of video

Photo comparison: 3GS vs 4S

Following are 3 photo comparisons of the 3GS and the 4S. Each photo can be enlarged. Note that each photo has been re-sized down to 1000 pixels in width. The original dimensions and file size are shown below each photo.

iPhone 3GS (click to enlarge)
1.4 MB, 2048 x 1536

iPhone4S (click to enlarge)
3.5 MB, 3264 x 2448

iPhone 3GS (click to enlarge)
1.5 MB, 2048 x 1536
iPhone4S (click to enlarge)
3.5 MB, 3264 x 2448

iPhone 3GS (click to enlarge)
1.1 MB, 2048 x 1536
iPhone4S (click to enlarge)
2.4 MB, 3264 x 2448

Video comparison: 3GS vs 4S

The following videos compare the performance of the 3GS and the 4S, in (almost) identical conditions. Granted, it’s not the most demanding subject for video, especially for snowboarding. But, it does give an idea of the “difference”. The videos are preceded with details about the original video file.

iPhone 3GS

  • Original video = 16.5 MB on phone, for 36 seconds
  • 640 x 480, H.264, AAC
  • Equates to 27.5 MB per 1 minute of video


iPhone 4S

  • Original video = 117.5 MB on phone for 39 seconds
  • 1920 x 1080, H.264, AAC
  • Equates to 180.8 MB per 1 minute of video
  • You can watch this one in HD…



Although the photos and video above don’t provide a detailed inspection of the iPhone 4S camera – it’s clear that the 4S is better than the 3GS for both photos and video. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. Apple have made it clear; not to mention the many examples on-line showing great photos.

Perhaps most interesting is the file-size information.

  • Photos are roughly 50% bigger on the 4S than they are on the 4 and more than twice the size of those on the 3GS…
  • Whilst they are bigger, you’ll still get around 300 photos on the 4S per 1 GB of space.
  • Video file sizes are considerably bigger. 6 times that of the 3GS and over twice the size of the iPhone 4…
  • If you take a lot of video, it’s worth doing some quick sums to evaluate how much space you’d like to have available for video. Around 5 and a half minutes of video will eat up 1 GB of storage.

For me, the 32GB option is the way to go (and that’s what I have). I want to have “space available” to make use of the camera, specifically the video. That is do-able with the 16GB size, but not for me, considering the other data I keep on the phone.


  • Reply November 14, 2011

    Devine Power

    Hey great post man!
    Just came to your site from Pat’s site!
    Looks like you are on right path!
    Wish you all the best!

  • Reply January 25, 2012

    James Peeples

    Clearly the clearity of 4S camera is way too better than 3GS.

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