I picked up the iPhone 5 on launch day. It was a fairly painless process, no pre-order, no lines, and no hassle. Call it a benefit of living in a small town or just dumb luck. This was a far cry from some people’s launch day experiences. Here are my thoughts on the iPhone 5 after using it for a week.
- Apple’s Finest Hour (So Far) – The iPhone 5 does the impossible – it renders the iPhone 4S bulky and unattractive. Apple crafted their sexiest product to date. The aluminum back and thinness of the device makes it look extra classy.
- Larger Screen – I’ll admit – the screen looked awkward at first. “Taller? I want a wider screen too!” But after using it for a while it’s safe to say Apple made the right decision. I’ve played with Android phones with wide and tall screens and it becomes uncomfortable. The new Retina screen is just right because it’s still easy to grip. Improving upon the 4S’ display was no easy feat, but the new screen’s colors are richer and everything looks more defined.
- Perfect For Videos – The new screen finally makes watching movies on the iPhone enjoyable. The aspect ratio is almost 16:9 so that means goodbye black bars (unoptimized apps don’t count).
- Lightning– The new lightning cable is easier to connect to your iPhone than the old 30-pin one (it’s also twice as fast). Charging is speedy and you can sync tons of content in no time.
- Battery Life – The battery lasts all day for the most part (at half brightness and by manually fetching data). Turning off LTE noticeably increases battery life. If you can’t get 4G in your area this is the first thing you should do.
- iOS 6 – The sixth version of Apple’s mobile OS comes pre-installed on the iPhone 5. It still features the same icons, but it has a new maps app and a few new features like baked in Facebook functionality. It won’t make Android fans change their tune, but iOS lovers will all agree that it’s the best version to date.
- Same megapixels, But Better Pictures – The camera is 8 megapixels, just like on the iPhone 4S. With that said the iPhone 5 produces better pictures in low light than its predecessor.
- HD FaceTime – Finally, a front camera that doesn’t completely suck. Apple upgraded the FaceTime camera and it makes video chats less pixellated.
- Gaming Performance – I’ve never been the type to play iOS games, but all of that could change with the iPhone 5. Bit Monster’s Lili takes advantage of the iPhone 5’s new screen and the A6 processor. Its graphics are easily some of the best I’ve ever seen on any mobile device.
- Speed – Coming from the iPhone 4 I noticed a major speed boost. Apps open faster, the phone boots faster, etc.
- EarPods – These are some of the best pack-in headphones around (okay that’s not saying much). They should keep you satisfied, though. You’ll notice highs and lows in your music and they don’t hurt your ears.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – The new maps app is atrocious, it can’t even get my address right and clouds obscure some locations.
- LTE, Maybe? – If you’re looking forward to blazing fast LTE speeds make sure your carrier offers it before upgrading. I’m on Sprint and they won’t have 4G in my area until 2013. This doesn’t bother me (I’m always near a fast Wi-Fi hotspot), but some will find this unacceptable.
- Get a Case – People are reporting that the iPhone 5’s back scratches easily. So do yourself a favor and buy a case.
If you have an iPhone 4 and your contract is about to end – buy the iPhone 5. If you have the 4S and there’s a year on your contract — you may want to wait for the inevitable 5S. This is the best iPhone to date, but it won’t blow your mind if you’re familiar with previous models. It’s a natural progression, not a revolution. (Rating: 8/10)