The iPhone 5
is coming in just a couple of days but the reviews are already up and ready to help you make up your mind. And most reviewers agree that Apple has managed to brilliantly update its iPhone lineup once again catering to virtually all users’ needs: a bigger screen and 4G LTE connectivity yet with a thinner and lighter new iPhone, which lasts just as long as before.
The new iPhone 5 is coming with a brand new design
with an aluminum instead of glass back, but the biggest shocker for everyone who got to spend time with it is just how light the device feels. Yet Apple’s premium choice of materials makes it feel exceptionally sturdy. Kudos to Jony Ive and his team once again.
The new 4-inch screen is taller but not wider
. For most reviewers that was a great new addition, but - fair enough - some mention that reading, browsing and watching movies on larger displays is a much more enjoyable experience. The downside of those bigger screens? They are not that easy to operate with one hand and might look just a bit too big when held in public.
There are two annoyances most reviewers share about the iPhone 5. The first one is the letterboxed apps
. What are those? With the increased screen size, Apple is still supporting older third-party applications but it’s not automatically stretching them to fit the screen, but instead puts two black bars on top and bottom, a letterbox, much like iPhone apps appear on the iPad. After time, some of the nearly 700,000 apps on the App Store will be updated to fit the 4-inch screen, but right now this is definitely an inconvenience.
Another big annoyance for most in the tech press was the change of connectors
. Apple’s new 8-pin Lightning connector is smaller and more comfortable to use (it’s reversible, plugs on both sides), but it requires a $30 adaptor to work with your existing accessories. Have a couple of them? Get ready to spend almost as much on adaptors as you did on the phone. Still, it’s a painful but necessary progress.
Software-wise, you get iOS 6
which is a small, gradual improvement of iOS that will be remembered for growing more distanced from Google apps like YouTube and Maps, both of which are absent now. Apple is instead bringing its own Maps solution, but it’s not as good and might be one of the few disappointments users have with their new iPhone.
But those could easily be shelved as the iPhone 5 easily gets most reviewers whole-hearted recommendation as one of the best phones available on the market right now.
So here’s what the reviews say
, every one with an own unique perspective.
iPhone 5 review recap
iPhone 5 review recap
"Arriving in Apple stores Sept. 21, the new model lacks any single gee-whiz breakthrough, like the Siri voice assistant introduced with the iPhone 4S. But the new version brings it up- to-date in a host of areas, particularly speed, without sacrificing the things that made it special in the first place."
”Other manufacturers’ phones have newer, more innovative technologies in them – wireless charging or near-field communications that allow for data sharing by tapping phones together – but few if any inspire the obsessive devotion that Apple does.
The iPhone 5 may not be terribly innovative, but it does deliver that package better than any previous Apple product, and better than just about any other smartphone.”
"The iPhone 5 completely rebuilds the iPhone on a framework of new features and design, addressing its major previous shortcomings. It's absolutely the best iPhone to date, and it easily secures its place in the top tier of the smartphone universe."
"The collective yawn from the tech press was louder this year; the enthusiasm from consumers is stronger. Niceness is my explanation. The bored-by-the-iPhone tech press/industry experts surely value niceness, but they do not hold it in the same top-tier regard that Apple does.
The letterbox mode for not-yet-updated-for-the-new-display apps kind of sucks. It’s not so much that it looks bad (my review unit is white; I’d wager money that the letterboxing is almost hard to notice visually on the black ones), but that it really throws me off while typing."
"If there was one complaint about the 4S display it's that it suffered from a somewhat greenish hue. The 5 fixes that -- if anything, extending just a smidgen to the warm side, but displaying imagery that's much more chromatically neutral than before. The phone also moves up to full sRGB coverage, meaning it can accurately represent every color provided by that spectrum, a claim to fame few smartphones can match.
Superficially, it's hitting all the right marks, but Lightning comes up short in a number of important areas. It is, of course, incompatible with the roughly 350 million billion iPhone and iPod accessories currently on the market -- a problem mostly rectified by a $30 adapter."
"If you were taking a college course called iPhone 101, your professor might identify three factors that have made Apple’s smartphone a mega-success. First, design. … Second, superior components. … Third, compatibility.
These days, that decade-old iPhone/iPad/iPod charging connector is everywhere: cars, clocks, speakers, docks, even medical devices. … If you have a few accessories, you could easily pay $150 in adapters for a $200 phone. That’s not just a slap in the face to loyal customers — it’s a jab in the eye."
"What Apple has created with the iPhone 5 is an extremely polished smartphone that oozes appeal. It's incredibly well built, easy to use, features a beautiful screen, and comes packed with enough speed and power to service all your requirements. The hardware is just stunning.
On the software front the story isn't as cut and dry. Change isn't always necessary, nor needed, but if there were things you didn't like in iOS 5, chances are they will still be here in iOS 6. Microsoft's Windows phone trounces iOS 6 on the social connected stakes even though Apple has added Facebook this time around. BlackBerry's BB10 OS, due out in February 2013, beats it on the email and messaging integration (we've played with the OS already), and Android is perfect for those that want customisation and control beyond choosing wallpapers."
"In practice, I couldn’t find a single app to slow the iPhone 5 down. All of Apple’s core software has been updated – more on which in a moment – to suit the new screen resolution of 1136 x 640 rather than the 960 x 640, and even when crunching Full HD video in iMovie (still currently in beta on this test unit), there was no sluggishness or lag.
Unfortunately, [Apple’s Maps app] it’s not perfect. The excellent mass transit mode in Google Maps has no counterpart in Apple Maps, so there’s no way to plan journeys that include bus, train, or other public transportation. Apple currently expects third-party apps to fill that gap."
"So, what to make of this latest upgrade. There’s no denying that the iPhone 5 is a lovely thing, and the best iPhone to date. It could well be Apple’s best-selling unit ever.
But a lot has changed in a year, and the current crop of Android superphones – and the incoming Windows Phone 8 handsets – have closed the gap. For nearly every “new” feature announced at the Keynote, there was a Samsung, Android, Windows, Nokia, Sony or HTC fan saying “my phone already does that.”
Apple Maps will divide opinion. Even with some nice features the search functionality seems hit and miss in terms of finding London locations. It displays more road names than place names and colour-coded roads have gone, so navigating to a specific point via pinch and zoom is trickier."
"Reading the press coverage since the unveiling, you may have heard that the iPhone 5 is disappointing, or boring. Those people, quite frankly, are fools. They either haven’t actually used the device, or only played with it for a few minutes in the hands-on area after last week’s event. Using a device on a regular basis is what really matters. And in that regard, the iPhone 5 shines in just about every conceivable way."
"Specificationists will say that with the iPhone 5 Apple is now behind its rivals in terms of features but in truth it's hard to think of a feature offered elsewhere that the average person - as opposed to the tech obsessive - really needs.
It's also probably the most beautiful smartphone anyone has ever made."
"And the iPhone camera finally has a capability that’s long been commonplace with other smartphones: It can shoot panoramas.
Apple’s take on the feature is the best I’ve seen in a camera phone. Maybe in a camera, period: It’s easy, smooth and fast, and remarkably resistant to unsightly stitching glitches."
"If there is one problem I had with the iPhone, it would be with the apps that weren’t designed for the larger screen. We’re used to going to the bottom of the screen for the menu, but because the older apps are centered on the screen, the menus aren’t there. I tap a few times before I realize I have to move my thumb up a little bit. It’s a minor quirk that will go away as soon as the developers update their apps."
"The iPhone 5 is a winner that should keep Apple at the front of the smartphone pack. But choosing iPhone 5 vs. a top-of-the line Android alternative isn't a cut-and-dried decision, especially if you're partial to a jumbo display, such as the one on the big, bold and beautiful Samsung Galaxy S III, an Android rival for which I've had high praise."
"Apple has taken an already great product and made it better, overall. Consumers who prefer huge screens or certain marginal features have plenty of other choices, but the iPhone 5 is an excellent choice."