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iPhone 5 Review

September 21, 2012

One week ago, I stayed up until 2am frantically refreshing Apple’s website waiting for my chance to pre-order an iPhone 5 and get it on launch day. Well… it’s here.

In this “review” of iPhone 5, I will be breaking it up into two parts: hardware and software. Then of course, I will throw out my final verdict.

Obviously, the phone has not been in my hands for an extended amount of time, so this is more of a first impressions kind of thing!

Part One: Hardware

Glancing at the front, you’d think the iPhone 5 is nothing more than a taller iPhone 4S. The game is completely changed once the back is revealed. Apple chose to ditch the glass back of the iPhone 4/4S to follow suit with a unibody design much like many other Apple products. However, they kept a little glass on the back at the top and bottom which I assume is for antenna reception (goodbye iPhone 4 death grip!). I opted for the white model which has natural aluminum whereas the black model has anodized aluminum in a slate color.

Besides the obvious appearance changes, the most striking change to me was how much lighter the phone is. Don’t get me wrong, I never found my iPhone 4 to be heavy… well, until now.

Having such a thin and light phone obviously came with sacrifices. Mainly the death of the 30-pin connector. Apple has replaced it with what they are calling Lightning (which compliments ThunderBolt on their computers, how cute). What does this mean for most people? You’ll definitely need a new car charger. Next to this new Lightning port you’ll find the headphone jack has moved to the bottom of the device.

Under the hood, Apple is powering the iPhone 5 with their new A6 processor. What does that mean? Well, there is still a lot of question as to exactly what that means with numbers. But in a dummied-down version: it is fast. It is obviously faster than my iPhone 4 and the A4 processor it packs. It is even faster than my iPad 2 and the A5 processor that both it and the iPhone 4S are using. Applications launch faster, photos are taken quicker, everything has sped up.

The back camera has remained virtually the same from the iPhone 4S, but instead of the lens being made with regular glass, it has been made from sapphire. It is supposed to be much more durable, but only time will tell. The front camera received a much-needed upgrade. It jumped from VGA straight to 720p HD… not bad at all, I’ll take it.

Now to FaceTime in HD, you’re going to need a fast data connection. Apple has you covered. WiFi has been updated to support both 2.4 and 5ghz bands of draft n. What does that mean? Faster. What about when you don’t have access to WiFi? Apple finally added LTE to the iPhone family. In areas where it is supported, you’ll get much faster data service as a result but since a lot of places are left without LTE, 3G is also still part of the equation.

From a hardware stand-point, it is easy to say that Apple has once again developed a gorgeous iPhone. I am obviously bias toward the company, but I believe that even an Android lover can appreciate the new design.

Part Two: Software

With the release of a new iPhone always comes a new version of iOS. At the risk of sounding geeky, I remember when I had gotten my first-generation iPod touch which ran iPhone OS 1.0. To think of what this software is capable of now that it wasn’t then is astounding. I mean, applications didn’t happen until 2.0. Anyway… back to 6.0.

iOS 6 can be summed up as a refinement more than an upgrade. Most of the changes you’ll notice are purely aesthetic. New store layouts, new music app for iPhone and iPod touch, new colors here, new colors there, and some more where that came from. Most shocking to my senses, however was the decision to flip the phone’s dial pad from dark buttons to white.

Most notable features are improvements to Siri, YouTube has disappeared as well as Google Maps. Nuclear warfare of the technology giants, anyone? Facebook is finally integrated into the operating system the same way Twitter was when iOS 5 hit. FaceTime is now available over cellular connections if you have an iPhone 5 or 4S and your cellular plan supports it (AT&T is only allowing it on their Mobile Share plans). Introduced in iOS 6 is Passbook where all your store cards, tickets, and boarding passes can be found. The camera application finally has the ability to take panoramic photos as well as the option to take photos while recording video.

As I said before, iOS 6 is more about refinement instead of reinvention. I have yet to experience any problems with the software, but it appears some people have some serious problems with Apple’s new Maps solution. Time should repair those issues, though.

The Verdict

Obviously I bought one. I am going to tell you that you should, too, right? Wrong. If you have yourself an iPhone 4 or 3GS, then go. Get it immediately, especially if you are eligible for an upgrade. If you’re rocking an iPhone 4S then I assume you aren’t eligible for an upgrade. Which even if you were, I would probably pass on the iPhone 5 anyway since the 4S will have all of the software perks that the iPhone 5 does. If you’re using a BlackBerry device, it is time to jump ship: don’t sync (bad pun, sorry). As for Android users… well… as my mother has always said: if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all.

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