"Unlike many competitors, this isn't a plastic, insubstantial-feeling device," wrote Mossberg. "The iPhone 5 retains Apple's trademark, solid-feeling, metal construction, with an aluminum back this time, instead of a glass back. Like many Apple products, it's gorgeous."
Mossberg lauded the iPhone's new display, which fits more content, and heaped praise on the LTE radio, which scored blistering download speeds. He also pointed out that the device is significantly faster than previous models, takes better pictures (especially in the dark), and still manages to provide impressive battery life.
The biggest detraction for the iPhone 5 isn't the hardware, but Apple's custom-developed mapping program. I have to agree with Mr. Mossberg's assessment. I've been testing Apple Maps in iOS 6 for several weeks, and it simply doesn't offer the same, streamlined experience afforded by Google Maps. It gets the job done, but falls short of the features available to Android and Windows Phones.
In his conclusion, Mossberg forgave Apple's decision to leave out NFC and inductive charging, noting that these technologies are hardly commonplace.
[ The Apple rumor mill seems accurate. See iPad Mini Leak Looks Legit. ]
SlashGear's Vincent Nguyen also heaped praise on the new iPhone.
"Apple has come up with a phone that's thinner and more flexible in how it can be used, without sacrificing the features of the iPhone 4S," wrote Nguyen. "True, it doesn't tick every possible box on the spec sheet, but what it does deliver is a sensible compromise of day-to-day usability in both hardware and form-factor."
Nguyen points out phone calls are noticeably clearer in the earpiece. He was also particularly impressed with how well the iPhone 5's camera can stitch together panoramas. Nguyen believes that the Apple faithful will be extremely pleased with the device, though it may not be enough to bring back those who've defected to Android devices.
The title of TechCrunch's review, penned by admitted Apple freak MG Siegler, is "With iPhone 5, Apple Has Chiseled The Smartphone To Near Perfection." Yeah, MG likes it.
He leads off his review by stating, "I've had the opportunity to play around with the latest iPhone for the past several days. I won't beat around the bush: it's fantastic. Of course, you're probably expecting me to say that. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong. The fact of the matter is, you can either listen to me or lose out. You're going to want this phone."
MG praises pretty much every feature of the iPhone 5. Most importantly, he notes that anyone who's still holding onto an iPhone 4 (not the iPhone 4S) is going to be immensely pleased with the iPhone 5 as an upgrade.
Engadget's Tim Stevens heaped superlatives for the device, too.
"At 112 grams it's 20% lighter than the 4S, a figure that doesn't seem like it would make much of an impact," wrote Stevens. "It does--so much so that it's the lightness, not the bigger display or the thinness, that nearly everybody praises when first getting a chance to hold the iPhone 5 in their own hands."
Stevens didn't care all that much for the Lightning connector, though. Sure, he thought it was easier to slip the plug in and out, but it doesn't boost data transfer speeds at all because it is stuck with USB 2.0. No USB 3.0, nor Thunderbolt.
One theme common to all the reviews? Each says the iPhone 5 is the best iPhone yet.
The iPhone 5 goes on sale Friday, September 21. The 16 GB version costs $199, the 32 GB version costs $299, and the 64 GB version costs $399, all contingent upon a two-year wireless contract. All versions come in black or white.