Apple IPhone 5 Review: Bigger, Thinner, Faster
If you expected another game-changer from Apple, brace yourself. The iPhone 5 is bigger, faster and cooler -- with a lot to smile about -- but it's not revolutionary.
Buzz surrounding the iPhone always reaches monumental heights. And fans always expect the nearly unreachable -- it needs to shoot unicorns, rainbows, fame and money out of the camera lens to avoid disappointment. Unfortunately, it doesn't expel million-dollar bills. If you can get over that, accept that it won't profoundly transform your life. Once you do, you'll still appreciate what a great phone it is.
The iPhone 5 is still one of the best devices out there. But Apple's undisputed claim as king of the smartphones has rapidly eroded. Innovation is on shakier ground as its competitors like Android introduce more novel features. The iPhone now plays catch-up. And as much as Apple adds must-have functions, nowhere is that decline more noticeable than in the design.
The longer, skinnier exterior gives in to the trend towards bigger screens. The iPhone is still mid-sized compared to some gigantic Androids, such as the Galaxy Note, but it's exceptionally easy to hold, even if you have small hands. It's also lighter than previous iPhones, measuring a smidge over four ounces. Bigger but lighter -- how? It's the thinnest yet, just a hair over 0.3-inches -- impressive considering the components inside.
Without Steve Jobs, Apple compromised on aesthetics and chose a sturdy aluminum back as opposed to the gorgeous glass panel of the 4S. It doesn't look as nice as past models, but it still exudes an elegant quality. Rivals realized the importance of design too, so you can find comparable Android devices if iOS isn't your taste. Despite the more pedestrian look though, the choice of aluminum means the phone is more resilient. There's also a grippier texture that makes fishing it out of your bag or pocket easier, since you can now feel where the front is. The iPhone keeps the metal side buttons and general look the same as the 4S, so there's nothing to get excited about.
The 4-inch Retina display, meanwhile, is about half-inch larger than on the 4S, and exactly what you'd expect from Apple -- exceptional. The bigger display comes in a 460-by-1,136 pixel resolution, for a 16:9 aspect ratio that's ideal to watch movies on. The colors really pop. The colors really pop. The vibrancy and saturation are nearly 50 percent better than on the 4S, so watching movies and TV shows a treat. It really makes multimedia an immerse experience -- well, as much as 4-inches can give you. As far as competitors, the iPhone's display blows the Galaxy S3 out of the water. Really, Nokia's Lumia 920 -- with its PureMotion HD+ technology, is the only device that comes close.
Rumor mills, meanwhile, accurately predicted the beefed up 8-megapixel camera. Apple added a better lens to let more light in. That means when you take photos, whether in low light or of action, you'll experience less blurring. That's great because you won't have to use the flash -- which has a tendency to bleach out skin tones -- as often. It's also handy if you don't want to draw attention to yourself, like an intimate concert or if you want to moonlight as a paparazzi.
One of the best features is "Panorama" mode, which lets you stitch together scenic landscapes. It's not a startling innovation -- after all, plenty of Androids come with a panorama effect -- but the iPhone's option is foolproof. It guides you through the entire process, so your sweeping scenes are almost guaranteed to come out as beautiful as those postcards. But don't run out and buy the iPhone 5 for it -- Panorama mode is part of iOS 6, so if you have an older mode, you're just a download away.
Speaking of iOS 6, the operating system ushers in a few major and minor improvements, and a couple changes that'll give you pause. Photo-sharing between Apple products is now ridiculously easy, and "Passbook," an app that helps you organize electronic tickets, is added to extra convenience while traveling.
But Apple said goodbye to Google Maps in favor of its own system. Google Maps is pretty great, and Apple Maps is pretty... awful. Frankly, it's comically inaccurate, which means it's practically worthless. Want to send your friend your location to meet up? He'll end up two blocks away. Trying to find that great restaurant? You'll end up in the park. I hope Google releases its Maps app for iOS soon. Dear, God.
Siri got a makeover, but she's still buggy. Toyota and BMW teamed up with Apple to add Siri buttons in their cars, so if you plan to buy one of them, she can replace your traditional GPS -- and with Apple Maps, lead you off a bridge. Apple is furiously making improvements to the software as we speak, so things should get better.
On the upside, the App Store remains in a league of its own. Every app you ever wanted will likely there -- if it's not from Google. If you've ever used BlackBerry or Windows devices, you understand the pain of having a weak ecosystem. If all you've used is iPhones, you don't know how good you have it. I love how games are easier to play -- there's less scrolling on the larger screen.
One glaring feature missing on the 4S finally gets added: 4G LTE. Tired of hearing "Well, my Android has 4G"? Now you don't to. It runs on the fastest networks from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Frequencies and speeds will vary depending on CDMA or GSM service, and the version you buy.
If you want to pay with your iPhone -- too bad. NFC is missing. But then again, nobody uses it. The technology has yet to take off, so you won't miss much. It has other uses, of course, like transferring files, but you can easily use Wi-Fi or a USB cable to handle it. Not a big deal.
Instead of the tried-and-true earbuds, Apple adds "earpods," which are a big improvement. Instead of jiggling around in your ear, they firmly sit there and deliver a full-bodied audio experience. Don't look the petite size fool you, they're fantastic.
You get $50 headphones for free, but the savings are offset by new cords -- the iPhone 5 gets its own, separate connector now. If you had old iPhones, iPads and iPods, it was nice to grab one cord to charge them all -- but not anymore. You can buy an adapter, of course, but that'll cost you an extra $30 to $40. And if you laid down big bucks for a music dock -- I'm sorry. I feel your pain. Really.
If you can stomach the change, you'll be very happy about the speedier A6 processor -- it's twice as fast. The iPhone zips along at breakneck pace. And with 4G, you'll rarely have to wait on anything -- from games to webpages. But like its predecessors, it lacks a microSD slot. Before you buy, think carefully how much storage you'll need -- it comes in 16-, 32- and 64-gigabyte flavors. If you listen to music or download movies, I'd recommend at least 32, but the price jumps drastically once the gigabytes go up -- take that into consideration.
The battery, meanwhile, is mediocre. Depending on your usage habits, you should last through the day. You can't open up the back, so buying a second battery is out of the question. But you may want to pick up a car charger or another cord, since, you know, you can't use those old ones now. To help conserve power, turn off 4G and lower the display brightness. Those two alone suck up a lot of juice.
The iPhone 5 doesn't offer surprises or break new ground. It's not bad -- in fact, it's still better than most. But it's not the disruptive device we've come to expect from Apple. Is that unfair? Yes. But other companies aren't held to the same standard. It is, after all, the iPhone. Overall, Apple succeeded in making another superior product -- but it played it safe and didn't break any molds. If you're an Apple fan, it's a no-brainer. You'll love it, just like everything else out of Cupertino. It's a wonderful device. But the competition just got a lot closer. ♦
Other Reviews From Around the Web:
- New York Times
- Wall Street Journal
- The Guardian
- Chicago Sun-Times
- The Telegraph
- USA Today
- Daily Mail
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IPS (Retina Display / Gorilla Glass / Gyroscope / Accelerometer / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
October 01, 2012
Great Phone... But...
I heard about the lackluster comments about the iPhone 5 -- but I decided to give it a shot and I really couldn't be happier. This phone is just stunning. It's a joy to look at as much as it is to use. I've used previous iPhones, and the 5 is blazingly fast. According to benchmarks, the A6 processor is top-notch. LTE is speedy, and finally Apple users can jump on 4G networks Android users have been using for the past year. Webpages load in a blink and apps boot up faster than ever.
The screen is great, but unfortunately, it's not as great as the Galaxy S3 -- Apple has fallen behind, or rather, the competition has caught up. In addition, as most people have mentioned, Apple Maps is horrendous. Turn-by-turn works well, but it's inaccurate, leading you to the wrong locations. Hopefully, Google Maps releases an app soon. It isn't a big deal for me though.Was this review helpful to you?
29 out of 33 people found this review helpful.
October 01, 2012
The iPhone 5's screen is great -- the resolution doesn't disappoint. And the A6 chip and LTE is really fast. The iOS ecosystem is robust, as usual. And the number of third-party apps is second to none.
But aside from that, the iPhone 5 is nothing spectacular. First, I'm not a fan of the new 16:9 aspect ratio. Also, the 8-megapixel lens is subpar. Photos come out grainy, especially in action shots. The design is beautiful, but it's a bit too light for my liking. I like my smartphones with a little more heft, and the iPhone feels like a cheap toy to me. Overall, I'm pretty disappointed by the iPhone. Apple is falling behind and Android is catching up, and I'll be trading it in for the One X.Was this review helpful to you?
19 out of 24 people found this review helpful.
February 04, 2013
yes I love this moblie I like it very much
i donot dislike itWas this review helpful to you?
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.
May 07, 2013
its stylish I like this phone
i don not hate any thing in thisWas this review helpful to you?
0 out of 0 people found this review helpful.
March 03, 2013
I like the Galaxy better
I had an iphone and was up for an upgrade and decided to get a Galaxy and love it so much more, it's just as easy and fast and has all the bells and whistles as the iphone and feels better in my hand, not like a weak piece of tin, bigger and more substantial and I love that it is a google phone with the free GPS and all of the google apps, I really love it, happy
Get the Galaxy! You won't regret!Was this review helpful to you?
0 out of 0 people found this review helpful.
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