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I'm wondering what physically has changed between the CDMA iPhone 4 / GSM iPhone 4 and the new iPhone 4S.

  • the placement or number of bands interrupting the metal side case
  • micro SIM slot location
  • camera and LED opening / placement
  • home button
  • receiver / front camera / proximity sensor placement

Superficially, the buttons on the 4S seem to align with the CDMA model spacing as opposed to the GSM spacing

I ask to know and for the practical application of people that want to reuse a precision case or protective film are going to find differences. I'm looking for first hand knowledge or reports of people taking a micrometer to the shipping hardware and doing a comparison.

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The CDMA 4 is identical, in terms of button alignment, etc. as the both the CDMA and GSM 4S. The odd man out is the GSM 4, which has its volume control buttons shifted slightly. –  cksum Oct 18 '11 at 1:17
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5 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The iFixit Teardown says that it has the same front panel (i.e. same positions for the Home button, LCD, sensors and earpiece). Other sites have also confirmed that it's the same layout as the CDMA iPhone 4.

It should work with any case made for the CDMA iPhone 4, and some of the less precise GSM iPhone 4 cases (i.e. ones with large cutouts around the buttons). It should also work with any Apple bumper purchased from January on, as those were designed to work with the GSM & CDMA iPhone 4.

The 4S also has 4 symmetrically positioned black strips (gaps between the antenna segments), 2 on each side, just like the CDMA 4. It also has a GSM slot, which is pretty much the only distinguishing feature between the CDMA 4 and the 4S.

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I just purchased a case for the iPhone 4S and the volume rockers seem to be closer to the loud/vibrate switch. It does not align. I also used the GSM iPhone 4 prior to this unaware that there were physical differences from the CMDA model. Everything else seems to be in alignment but the spacing of the left-side controls are different.

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You're right in that the iPhone 4S pretty much resembles the CDMA iPhone 4 in terms of volume/mute button placement.

kapowaz.net has a comparison of button placement on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S which might be of help. Though I'm afraid I can't offer micrometer accuracy.

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Not sure if this was the case on the CDMA iPhone 4, but the vibration ringer on the iPhone 4S has been changed. It's stronger and vibrates at a higher frequency.

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Cool - I hadn't thought to ask that, but even if it's hidden / inside it could make a difference for a case? (or at least watching it slide off an incline) - Thanks! –  bmike Oct 19 '11 at 0:04
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Based on my experience with cases, it appears that the headphone jack is in a different place on the new iPhone.

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I have compared a GSM (AT&T) model iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S side by side and the headphone jacks seem perfectly aligned. Could you elaborate on how much or which models were different? –  bmike Oct 19 '11 at 0:05
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