Apple iPhone 5 – Review and Test Report
The iPhone 5 was going to be the first major revision of the iPhone that I would not stand in line for or pre-order to have delivered the day before it was set to launch. Regardless of my intentions, and the three-week shipping delay for customers pre-ordering their devices, I walked into a Best Buy for something else and they had only the model I wanted (32 GB Verizon in Black), and I walked out with it.
Within 20 minutes, I had activated the new phone on my plan, called American Express to have Best Buy’s $50 markup on the unsubsidized phone’s price matched and credited to my bill, sold my iPhone 4S to recoup most of the cost, and started to set up the new phone from a backup on my computer with the new, proprietary and somewhat controversial Lightning cable. I left the new, oddly-shaped ear pods in their package, since I had grown sick of replacing broken headsets at $29 a pop and invested in Sennheiser earbuds and a set of Bose noise-cancelling ones long ago.
The new phone is very attractive. My black model has an aluminum bezel and back in place of the previous model’s glass back, which too often, shattered easily. It is slightly taller and has a larger screen, but remains the same width and is easy to use with one hand, carry, or stowed in a pocket. The new device is, like the 4S, a world phone regardless of carrier. Verizon Wireless gives users a choice: they can use other mobile operators’ nano-SIM cards overseas or use Verizon Wireless’ international roaming service, in most cases through Vodafone, which owns half of the company.
I immediately noticed: that the headphone jack is now on the bottom of the phone and that the new Lightning adapter is now much smaller and renders most accessories obsolete, even with the separately available adapter.
LTE. Last October, Apple gave its devotees a better camera, a 64 GB model, a faster processor, and Siri, the friendly personal assistant but the tech giant was criticized for leaving out certain functionality that was already surfacing in competitors’ devices, including true 4G capabilities. With the new iPhone, I regularly observed speeds of 21-28Mbps download, and upload speeds as high as 21 Mbps. Additionally, the phone supports the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard and speeds up to 150Mbps. The new Apple-designed A6 processor supposedly improves on the 4S’ A5, but I can’t see any improvement in what I thought were already excellent graphics.
The Size. The iPhone 5 has a 4” screen that is the same width but taller than all previous iPhones. This allowed for a fifth row of icons, and for widescreen video to be played without letterboxing, although apps that have not yet been updated to support the taller model will have black bars at the top and bottom of the image. Despite the increase in height, the device itself is only 9mm taller overall and still is easy to use with one hand or fit in your pocket. The iPhone 5 is 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S, which I found to be a nice comfortable weight.
A/V. The cameras were updated slightly; a new integrated speaker system was introduced, as was a rear microphone that allows for noticeably better call sound quality. Both cameras are eight megapixels and capable of HD video recording, the back facing camera in 1080p and the frontlooker in 720p. The still camera software can create a 240º panorama and cimpensates for unsteady hands. The front camera can be used for Facetime video calling over cellular networks, an improvement from the Wi-Fi-only functionality before iOS6 was introduced; however the feature’s availability depends on the carrier in use.