September 22, 2012
- Sleek, thinner design
- Larger 4-inch display
- 4G LTE connectivity
- Faster performance
- No included Lightning to 30-pin adapter
The new iPhone 5 is finally here and we have gotten our own hands on one to try it out. After months of rumors and alleged photos of the new device, we finally have it. The new model supports 4G LTE wireless, has a larger screen, a thinner and taller design and a new Lightning connector.
Look & Feel
When you first get your hands on the new iPhone 5, you can definitely feel that it is lighter (112 grams) and thinner than the iPhone 4 or 4S. It still feels very sturdy and well-built, even more so now since the edges seem to be more refined and crafted.
The iPhone 5 comes in two colors: black and white. We got the black model and are very impressed with the new matte metal finish on the back. This new surface means it is also fingerprint resistant, which is always something to love. It also adds some traction to the device when holding it in your hand, again something we like. Along the top and bottom of the back there are strips of glossy black glass, which in all honesty, Apple could have left out. The silver band along the phone's sides (which is still the antenna) has been tinted more darker and as a result, blends more with the rest of the device.
The iPhone 5 has a 4.0-inch display, which is up from the 3.5-inch on the iPhone 4 and 4S. It does have the same high-resolution Retina display, however, so there isn't much different aside from the size. The only manufacturing change that Apple said is different is the way the touch sensors are now integrated into the glass rather than a separate layer. This, in theory, means the pixels are closer to the surface of the glass and results in a better image. In our use (and comparison with an iPhone 4) the displays look virtually identical.
Since the display is taller (not wider), applications that have not yet been updated to take advantage of this added screen space will have small black bars along the top and bottom to keep it centered on the screen. We have already seen many of our phone's apps updated to use the whole screen space, so this should only be a temporary fix for many apps on the App Store.
Apple has done away with the old 30-pin connector that they've used in all their devices for over 10 years. The new super tiny "Lightning" connector allowed for Apple to fit more inside the device in a small overall space. It's amazing how small the connector is when you first see it.
That said, this change totally out dates every iPhone-made peripheral that has ever been made. In order to use these old devices, a $30 adapter will be required and is sold by Apple. We don't mind the change (we actually love the smaller connector), but we really wish Apple would have included the adapter with every new iPhone.
The iPhone 5 supports 4G LTE wireless connectivity. This is a step up from the iPhone 4S, which supported 4G, but only HSPA+ technology, which is not nearly as fast. Our iPhone 5 is an AT&T model and living in the metro Detroit area, we just had our LTE service turned on this week (luckily for us!) by AT&T. In our speed tests, we averaged 18Mbps down/up, which is amazingly fast and faster than most home Internet connections.
Our iPhone 4 typically maxed out at around 1Mbps down/up for a comparison. So we believe the LTE support is the biggest reason to upgrade to the iPhone 5 because it is absolutely the best feature. Surfing the Web was blazingly fast and blew us away as this was our first experience with LTE speeds.
Apple includes the same 8-megapixel camera on the backside that the 4S had, but has a tougher sapphire lens and improved stabilization. The front-facing camera has been upgraded to a 720p resolution and has been physically moved to above the speaker slot.
The iPhone 5 has Apple's new A6 processor, which definitely makes it feel fast in all regards. From loading apps to surfing the Web, pages render fast and apps open with lightning speeds. One personal measure that we use to gear iPhone speediness is while using the built-in Camera app. With older phones, especially the iPhone 4, loading the Camera app took a few seconds and there was a delay before you should take your first shot. Now the time is cut down to about 1 second total, which is much faster. If you had an iPhone 4S previously, you won't notice much of a different in the long-run in this category.
Apple claims the iPhone 5 will get:
- Talk time: Up to 8 hours on 3G
- Standby time: Up to 225 hours
- Internet use: Up to 8 hours on 3G, up to 8 hours on LTE, up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi
- Video playback: Up to 10 hours
- Audio playback: Up to 40 hours
In our use, we can say that we noticed an improvement from our iPhone 4 from judging by end-of-day battery life remaining.
For a full review on the new iOS 6, read our review we posted earlier this week.
We believe the iPhone 5 is an evolutionary upgrade and not an incremental upgrade simply because of the tweaked design and LTE connectivity. While some may hate the new Lightning connector, there is a remedy for it but Apple should have been a nice-guy and given us all the adapter in the box. If you were using an iPhone 4 or earlier iPhone, this is definitely the one to get. If you currently have an iPhone 4S, you're probably safe standing down unless you really want the larger screen or LTE.