The moment the iPhone 5 was announced, I decided to camp out for it. Without a pre-order in place, I waited in line for over 12 hours for the new handset and after spending two weeks with it, I have to say that it was completely worth it.
Like many of you, I saw the Apple’s new smartphone launch event and feared iPhone 5 would be disappointing. It isn’t. After holding and playing around with the device, you truly appreciate the incredible engineering and fantastic design of iPhone 5. The new handset is really a work of art and a huge improvement over the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
Hardware and Design
Since the iPhone 3G, I have purchased every single iPhone to date. From the 3G to 3GS, it wasn’t a significant upgrade, but from the iPhone 3GS to 4, it was a jaw dropping experience. However, when I went from the iPhone 4 to the 4S, it felt very mediocre. I once again experienced a jaw dropping experience when I upgraded from the iPhone 4S to 5.
I was really happy to notice that the glass back had been replaced with metal. My iPhone 5 feels so much more durable now! Heck, I have even dropped it a few times, and nothing happened. What’s more, iPhone 5 is literally featherweight. When I first picked it up, I honestly thought it was going to fly out of my hand. However, the weight of the latest iPhone has grown on me. Once in a while, I’ll pick up my old iPhone 4S, and boy, that device sure feels bulky to use and hold. I’m constantly amazed by the thinner form factor and the amount of engineering and technology Apple has been able to fit into such a small device.
A major change that Apple made with the introduction of this iPhone is the screen size. And they added a new 4” display without compromising one hand usability of the device. The usability part isn’t talked about much, but it is something you’ll appreciate in real life. Throughout my daily chores, I have found the larger screen to be extremely useful while browsing email, the web, and using apps. Being able to see more content is just great and watching video on this device is truly a bliss. When I look back at my iPhone 4S’s 3.5″ display, it is horrifying. It feels extremely small and content on screen feels squeezed. You have to wonder how iPhone owners tolerated such a small display size when 4” smartphones were available way before the iPhone 5.
Oh yes, and while talking on the phone you can actually understand what a person on the other side is saying! The speaker has been much improved and is incredibly loud.
Speed and Battery
Holy cow, the iPhone 5 is blazing FAST! The processor in this phone is twice as fast and the difference in speed is very clear when I compare it to my iPhone 4S. Loading apps is quick, switching through multiple apps is very snappy, there’s no lag while content is being loaded. And taking photos on the fly is much easier on iPhone 5-the camera opens way faster than on 4S. Since Apple added LTE to iPhone 5, data connectivity is much faster, too. While using it on AT&T’s LTE network in the Bay Area, I achieved speeds of 50 megabits per second for downloads and a little over 15 megabits per second for uploads. Every time I use LTE on this device, it makes me realize how slow my home internet connection is! I was a bit circumspect about AT&T’s LTE network in the Bay Area since official coverage seemed so limited, but it seems that their coverage map is a lie in a good way. My iPhone 5 gets LTE signal almost everywhere.
Battery life on the iPhone 4S was terrible – it barely lasted even half a day on my average use. However, Apple has clearly improved the battery on iPhone 5. Even though they are one of the last smartphone makers to add LTE, they’ve included it without compromising battery life on the device. Throughout my testing, I found that the iPhone 5’s battery on LTE is incredibly difficult to drain and I easily get a day’s worth of heavy use (web browsing, lots of emailing and Twitter, bluetooth streaming, music playback, and using all sorts of apps.) In addition, this iPhone does not get flaming hot like the iPhone 4S did. For most people, the iPhone 5’s battery would easily last a day without recharging.
Overall, the speed and battery life performance of this iPhone puts the iPhone 4S to shame.
Maps and iOS 6
Let’s face it. iOS 6’s Maps are nowhere as good as Google Maps, but when I use the Maps app in the Bay Area, it works great. Turn-by-turn directions loads in a jiffy and POI data is pretty accurate. In fact, in iOS 6 Maps, there is no issue of sponsored results. 3D maps and the flyover feature is a nice touch too. It is also reported that iOS 6 Maps uses much less data versus Google Maps.
There are over 200 new features in iOS 6. My favorite one is the new panorama mode. iPhone 5 takes some incredible panoramas and the quality of them is spectacular. Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, has been made much faster. I am easily able to look-up movies, sport scores, and other inquiries. In addition, the virtual assistant now allows you to dictate and post Facebook status messages and tweets. Users can also share posts to Facebook via the new integration. I found that Siri has been much improved on the iPhone 5 versus the iPhone 4S. It actually understands me now and provides accurate results.
In its 6th generation, iOS got even better and continues to provide a polished user experience and solid ecosystem.
After using the iPhone 5 for nearly two weeks, it is tough to go back to any of the other previous iPhones I own. If you have an iPhone 4 or an earlier model with upgrade eligibility, upgrading to the iPhone 5 is a no brainer.