iPhone Build Quality - 4/4s vs. 5?

armoredsaint

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 7, 2010
233
9
USA
Since this is my first iPhone, how does the quality control compared to the last model, was it built better (i.e. no scratches, dents etc...)
 

Shabbis

macrumors regular
Mar 17, 2008
212
2
I purchased an iPhone 4 32GB the day it was released. It was flawless for the 2 years I owned it. I now have an iPhone 5 64GB and it is also flawless.
 

JayLenochiniMac

macrumors G5
Nov 7, 2007
12,819
2,381
New Sanfrakota
Original iPhone - very good build quality/fit and finish

3G/3GS - bad build quality and poor fit and finish due to plastic (cars with plastic body panels like Saturn have this same problem)

4/4S - excellent build quality and fit and finish

5 - Too early to say conclusively until they fix the QC issues

My iP5 has flawless metal housing but a bit poor fit and finish where the glass strips meet the aluminum body. My mother's iP5 has excellent fit and finish where the glass strips meet the aluminum body but arrived nicked and scuffed out of the box in three places. However, except for the factory damaged nicks, the build quality itself is significantly better than the 3G/3GS and might be comparable to the 4/4S.

Don't confuse weight with build quality because it has nothing to do with it. Rather, it's how the material is pieced together as the final product.
 

JayLenochiniMac

macrumors G5
Nov 7, 2007
12,819
2,381
New Sanfrakota
They are all mass-produced in China. Take that for what it is...
That means nothing as the build quality varies widely between iterations of iPhones. When the 3G/3GS with its crappy build quality first debuted, people were worried we were stuck with the inevitable as it was now a mass-produced device on a much wider availability on contract. That changed with the 4/4S with the best build quality of all iPhones to date.
 

cababah

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2009
1,692
165
SF Bay Area, CA
That means nothing as the build quality varies widely between iterations of iPhones. When the 3G/3GS with its crappy build quality first debuted, people were worried we were stuck with the inevitable as it was now a mass-produced device on a much wider availability on contract. That changed with the 4/4S with the best build quality of all iPhones to date.
I had an original 3G and never a single hiccup or issue with it during 2 years of ownership. My original launch date 3GS is still going strong (my father uses it)-everything works from the screen to original battery, home button is still solid. In my eyes, that was a very well-built phone.

I never had an iPhone 4 but I did get a launch day 4S which had to be replaced due to hardware issues and each subsequent replacement had some new problem ranging from buzzing sound during vibrate, loose home buttons, crooked home buttons, some didn't register, some screens were really washed out and yellow, some had light bleeding issues. I eventually settled on a 4S that was pretty much as good as it was going to get because I hate playing the Apple lottery.

The truth is that there is so much variance, you (or I) cannot just make a blanket statement that iPhone X had the best build quality because everyone had a different experience and unless you went through 1,000+ phones, you don't have a large enough sampling to make such a large claim about build quality. Unless, you have special information that Apple has in regard to units exchanged/repaired during each iteration.

This whole process is so cyclical. I remember when the 4S first came out, everyone was saying how the 4 was better and now Apple QC is down etc etc. This forum was FLOODED with people reporting problem after problem and exchanging the 4S five times or more to get a good one. Now that the 5 is out, all of a sudden the 4S is so grand and great. The forum is now flooded with problems with the 5. Rest assured, the cycle will repeat itself when the next iteration phone comes out and people bring out their magnifying glasses to find the problems with that phone and preach about how great the 5 was.
 
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Brettka7

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2011
236
18
The only reason I think the 4 has better build quality than the 5 is because of thick steel vs. thin aluminum. I will never run caseless in fear of it bending. The 5 has better, more responsive, consistent buttons though.
 

Allenz

macrumors member
Jul 1, 2010
58
3
Original iPhone - very good build quality/fit and finish

3G/3GS - bad build quality and poor fit and finish due to plastic (cars with plastic body panels like Saturn have this same problem)

4/4S - excellent build quality and fit and finish

5 - Too early to say conclusively until they fix the QC issues

My iP5 has flawless metal housing but a bit poor fit and finish where the glass strips meet the aluminum body. My mother's iP5 has excellent fit and finish where the glass strips meet the aluminum body but arrived nicked and scuffed out of the box in three places. However, except for the factory damaged nicks, the build quality itself is significantly better than the 3G/3GS and might be comparable to the 4/4S.

Don't confuse weight with build quality because it has nothing to do with it. Rather, it's how the material is pieced together as the final product.
I had both the 3G and 3GS and BOTH were flawless as far as quality and build goes. Didn't really know anyone else that had an issue with them either. :confused:

The 4 and 4S on the other hand...
 

Mark316

macrumors regular
Oct 2, 2012
136
137
The 4/4S was the best iPhone to use without a case, the 3G scratched the moment anything touched the back, and the 5 definitely won't handle the abuse the 4 could in terms of scuffs on the back.

Dropping it on the other hand would be a different case.
 

JayLenochiniMac

macrumors G5
Nov 7, 2007
12,819
2,381
New Sanfrakota
I had both the 3G and 3GS and BOTH were flawless as far as quality and build goes. Didn't really know anyone else that had an issue with them either. :confused:

The 4 and 4S on the other hand...
Fit and finish is also part of build quality. Did you consider that? All the 3G/3GS I've handled was worse in that respect simply because of the plastic (no different from how cars with plastic body parts are notorious for poor fit and finish). The 4/4S may or may not have more internal problems but is definitely better when it comes to fit and finish.
 

cababah

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2009
1,692
165
SF Bay Area, CA
Fit and finish is also part of build quality. Did you consider that? All the 3G/3GS I've handled was worse in that respect simply because of the plastic (no different from how cars with plastic body parts are notorious for poor fit and finish). The 4/4S may or may not have more internal problems but is definitely better when it comes to fit and finish.
Just because the 3G/3GS were made of plastic on the back does not mean they were bad fit and finish/build quality.

Fit and finish is regarding things being flush and symmetrical and nice and tight. I really struggled to find a 4S that had good fit and finish. Having a nice combination of glass and stainless steel doesn't mean much if the other components and hardware are not up to snuff.

The 4/4S were A LOT more fragile and prone to damage if dropped but resisted scratching better.

The 3G/3GS/5 are much more scratch prone but will fare much better if dropped.


Pick your poison.
 

JayLenochiniMac

macrumors G5
Nov 7, 2007
12,819
2,381
New Sanfrakota
Just because the 3G/3GS were made of plastic on the back does not mean they were bad fit and finish/build quality.

Fit and finish is regarding things being flush and symmetrical and nice and tight. I really struggled to find a 4S that had good fit and finish. Having a nice combination of glass and stainless steel doesn't mean much if the other components and hardware are not up to snuff.
It's well known that plastic is generally more difficult than metal or glass when it comes to fit and finish. Yes, there are 3G/3GS and 4/4S with poor fit and finish, but on average, the 3G/3GS fares the worse of all the iterations.
 

KittyToy

macrumors 6502
Sep 6, 2007
441
23
Davenport
All I know is my 3G still going strong with all its original parts I still use it as an iPod n for use with some apps that couldn't be transferred to my 4s or 5
 

XboxMySocks

macrumors 68020
Oct 25, 2009
2,204
168
The only reason I think the 4 has better build quality than the 5 is because of thick steel vs. thin aluminum. I will never run caseless in fear of it bending. The 5 has better, more responsive, consistent buttons though.
Right, because $2 of plastic will keep the iPhone from bending :rolleyes:
 

Brettka7

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2011
236
18
Right, because $2 of plastic will keep the iPhone from bending :rolleyes:
It sure did with the original. Look at the side of your screen. That is how thin the aluminum is. A rigid piece of plastic 15 times as thick as that aluminum is going to do a decent job preventing bending those times I accidentally lean over a table, display at work, etc.
 

slayerz96

macrumors member
Sep 27, 2012
67
5
Singapore
The build quality, whether is it good or not, depends on your perception. To me, the 4/4S feels very very nice and solid, but I must say the build quality isn't so wonderful because I have to worry about cracked glass if I drop my naked device.

As for iP5, build should be one of the least of worries. I have tried it out at a demo where there is a lot of people. Used a coin and a key to scratch the anodized aluminum, and it didn't really scratch. Just some rubs and it's gone.
 
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