So I’ve now had my iPhone 5 since the 26th of February and overall it’s been a fairly decent upgrade from my aging iPhone 4. So in this post I’ll be going over my impressions.
The story of my slightly surprising purchase.
Why the iPhone 5?
Well I already had an iPhone 4 and I still enjoyed what the platform had to offer. Seeing as I also have an iPad running the same OS and a Mac computer which all talk to each other seamlessly, it made sense to go for the latest device on the iOS platform.
My impressions: Unboxing and initial Setup
As usual Apple didn’t disappoint with the packaging, very thick robust cardboard, no audible box farts, the phone was easily removed (placed in front of everything else inside of the box), everything else had it’s own separate compartments inside the box. Always a nice touch. So enough about the packaging, what was it like setting up?
The setup process was fairly painless if only because I already had iCloud configured so I was able to get the device into a fairly functional state without even being at home. (I set the iPhone up in work). The only things I didn’t have was my music library and picture albums that I synchronise via my computer(s) at home. Annoyingly enough Apple thought that the Micro SIM card was still too big so they threw a Nano SIM into the iPhone 5. Which saves around 0.000000000000003mm of space. Seriously Apple there was no need. So basically it means if you’re upgrading from an earlier iPhone you will have to upgrade your SIM Card. AGAIN.
Inside the box there was the mains charger, a USB to lightning cable, Apple stickers and the warranty and manual booklets. There was also a pair of Apple’s new earpods. The earpods are an usual looking piece of hardware to say the least and oddly enough the audio quality from the earpods seemed better than that of Apple’s in-ear headphones that I reviewed not too long ago.
So yes initial setup and unboxing process was very pleasant, it’s good to see when companies embrace the concept of “the first impressions are the lasting impressions”.
My Impressions: Overall Design and Ergonomics
As with most of Apple’s products these days, it’s minimal yet incredibly sexy. Not many physical buttons. Black glass on the front (also available in white) smooth greyish blue aluminium on the back (Apple call it slate), compact connector design (lightning), generally sturdy construction. What struck me most about the iPhone 5 is how incredibly lighter it is than it’s predecessors. This is actually something I don’t like believe it or not, because I enjoy heavy phones, seriously I don’t know why but when they’re heavier (but still compact) there just seems to be an effect of great build quality to the device. But hey a small price to pay for a better performing device. Both the glass on the front and metal on the back feel as though they might get scratched easily over time. The slate finish is laughable in terms of it’s robustness, aluminium is starting to bleed through ever so slightly on the chamfered edges even though my phone has been in a case from day 1… Well day 2 to be exact but still. The mixture of smooth metal and glass makes it quite slippery, a rubberised texture such as that of the Google Nexus 7 may be preferable but not as sexy.
The phone is longer but not uncomfortably longer than the iPhone 4. There’s around a half an inch difference in the height between the two. The difference really didn’t seem that big of a deal. You get a little bit more content on a webpage (a line or two), you get an extra row of apps on the homescreen and HD videos don’t have black bars around them. Apart from these advantages there’s really not much all that different. The headphone port is not on the bottom which is a better place for me rather than on the top. It now means when I’ve got my earphones plugged in and my phone is in my pocket. I can remove said phone and it will be the right way up. No swivelling! Yay! I would also say that the design for the speaker / microphone grills are definitely more visually appealing than on the iPhone 4.
My Impressions: The Display
Crisp, clear, no ghosting, vivid colour reproduction and consistency across the entire display, good contrast, virtually unlimited viewing angles… everything I like to see on a display. Everything looks sharp especially text. Compared to the iPhone 4′s retina display, I would say the iPhone 5’s display is slightly more vivid (really ever so slightly), but both are on par with everything else. The only downside I saw (which is more of a personal preference) is the glossy display, I’m a diehard matte user so using the display in brightly lit areas can be a challenge, however the display seemed to cope quite well in direct sunlight. The finger prints are unbearable, Apple’s “oleophobic” coating has little to no effect whatsoever. The glass on the iPhone 5 seems more robust than on it’s predecessors, I dropped it on a rough concrete floor in the warehouse of my workplace (not intentionally of course) and the glass didn’t have a mark on it. The only damage was a slight aluminium bleed-through by the headphone port. But even this was virtually unnoticeable.
My Impressions: The Speaker(s)
The audio sounds clean, even when pushed to full volume whilst playing something quite bassy. The speaker(s) seem to be able to somewhat replicate low bass tones but not in an enjoyable way. As with most small computers and smartphones the speakers are “tinny” for the most part.
My Impressions: Lightning
I’m pretty much just going to repeat what I said in my iPad 4 impressions article.
Overall lightning is a nice step up from the traditional 30 pin dock connector which has featured in Apple’s mobile products for over 10 years. It’s compactness makes it very appealing and saves space for other goodies in Apple’s devices. It’s also nice that the cable can be used any way around inside it’s corresponding port (for anyone who’s ever tried to plug in a 30 pin connector in the dark and got it the wrong way around several times). Synchronisation through lightning seems to be marginally faster than the 30 pin in a straight head-to-head but apart from these points, lighting isn’t really as big of a deal as it has been made out to be. In some cases this new connector will make more problems as it will not be compatible with your existing 30 pin accessories unless you purchase an adaptor sold separately.
My Impressions: Overall usage
The usage overall is enjoyable. iOS is as fluid as ever and the experience still becomes transparent as time progresses. The battery life is ok, not bad, but not particularly good either. I can usually expect around 50-65% battery life by the end of the day if used normally and connected to 4G. Due to the powerful Dual-core A6 processor, you can expect gameplay to be incredibly smooth in terms of framerate. Most realtime tasks are also considerably more speedy compared to my iPhone 4 and it’s now dated A4 processor. Despite all of this processing power and 1GB of RAM, the iPhone 5 can still sometimes struggle to render web pages smoothly, especially if the page has continuously updating content and heavy HTML5/CSS transitions. The cameras built into the device are fantastic for the most part but Apple still haven’t put in the features that I most crave such as manual focus and the ability to lockdown the auto white balance and exposure. The panoramic feature is ok but you can get the same results and often better by using panoramic apps that have been out for years. The front camera records in 720p which is nice and the rear camera supports full 1080p video which is even nicer.
Any app that was made for previous iPhones can also run natively on the iPhone 5. Altough sometimes the apps haven’t been updated and you end up with 2 HUGE black bars at the top and bottom of the App, it’s bearable but annoying in mainstream applications. This issue is being steadily resolved as more and more App developers update the Apps for the iPhone 5’s larger screen. There are literally tons of features that I could continue talking about all day but seeing as your eyes are probably bleeding from reading the entirety of this article I’ll draw this to a close now.
Overall the iPhone was a great buy for me, I can’t really say if the person reading this article (that’s you!) would enjoy this product. I’ve also done my best in this article to show where Apple may need to do some more work to iron out these bugs. As I’ve said before, it would be unfair to compare this product to anything that is aiming at a completely different price point or type of person but what I will say is that for what it’s worth the iPhone 5 is a great product. If you’re thinking of upgrading your previous generation iPhone I would say the iPhone 5 would likely be a decent upgrade.