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9/28/2012
09:31 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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iPhone 5: My First Week

After spending a week with the Apple iPhone 5, I have a clear picture of what has improved, evolved, and gone sideways.

iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The Apple iPhone continues to be one of the most important devices of the year. Whether or not you care about Apple products, the iPhone's presence reverberates throughout the industry and is responsible for helping to shape the competitive smartphone landscape.

The iPhone 5--the sixth smartphone from Apple--represents the biggest step forward for the company, but also its biggest step sideways. It is a worthy successor and upgrade from the iPhone 4S, but also falls short of the competition in some respects.

If you weren't one of the initial 5 million people to scoop one up in the last week, should you consider buying one now? Let's talk.

Biggest Improvements

The iPhone 5 is a different animal from the iPhone 4S, its immediate predecessor. When looking at the hardware, it is better than the iPhone 4S is almost every respect.

-- Hardware. Apple trades the glass and stainless steel sandwich design of the iPhone 4S for an aluminum body and glass front. The iPhone 5 is lighter, thinner, and easier to hold and use all day long. The attention to detail of the iPhone 5's manufacture--scuffed paint aside--is incredible. It's a well-designed and well-built device that's less breakable than its predecessor.

-- LTE 4G. The LTE 4G radio, whether it be for AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon Wireless, puts the iPhone in the same class with its chief competitors in mobile broadband. It's a significant step up in speed, especially for Sprint and Verizon customers, who've been limited to their carriers' slower 3G networks. We're talking a 10-fold increase in wireless data speeds. Yes, it's that dramatic.

[ What's inside? Apple iPhone 5 Teardown: Visual Tour. ]

-- A6 processor. Apple hasn't provided too many details about its newest mobile processor. Labs that have torn the iPhone 5 apart discovered that it has a triple-core CPU clocked at about 1.3 GHz each and a dual-core GPU paired with 1 GB of RAM. Techie jargon aside, it truly delivers a huge boost in speed. Absolutely nothing dents the iPhone 5's speed. It is a noticeable improvement over the already-speedy iPhone 4S.

-- Call quality. The iPhone 5 uses new noise-canceling technology and other audio voodoo to improve the quality of phone calls. Whatever Apple did under the hood to the phone, it worked. The iPhone 5 is one of the best devices I've used this year. Not only is the quality good, calls are much easier to hear thanks to the significantly louder speaker.

What's Merely Evolved

There's plenty about the iPhone that is different from the iPhone 4S--and competing devices--but some of these features could have been improved even more.

-- Screen. The iPhone 5 stretches the old 3.5-inch Retina Display of the iPhone 4S and gives it a larger diagonal measurement of 4.0 inches. Pixels improve from 960 x 640 to 1136 x 640. It's still a Retina Display, and is certainly larger, but it's not a competitive size. Screens that measure 4.3 inches offer the best mix of usability and visible real estate combined with device size. Personally, I prefer screens that measure between 4.6 and 4.8 inches. The iPhone 5's screen lets you see more emails, more of your Twitter feed, more of that text messaging conversation, but that's about it. Additionally, the pixel count is just odd. Apple should have gone all the way and given the iPhone 5 a 1280 x 720p HD display, which is what many other manufacturers are choosing to do. I understand the implications this would have for developers, but c'mon; Android supports various screen sizes and aspect ratios ranging from 2.8 inches all the way up to 10.1 inches. You can't tell me Apple iOS developers aren't up to the challenge.

-- Battery. The iPhone 5 has a bigger battery than the iPhone 4S to offset the LTE 4G radio, larger screen, and faster processor. Despite the power-draining abilities of the 4G, screen, and A6 chip, the iPhone 5's battery still manages to get through an entire day, though just barely. I find that the iPhone 5's battery is sinking below the 40% mark by about dinner time. It's frustrating to think how much better battery life could have been if Apple made the iPhone 5 even 1mm thicker.

-- Camera. The camera rates the same 8 megapixels as the iPhone 4S's camera, but it makes improvements in low-light performance. Images are better, but only slightly. The iPhone 4S's camera was one of the best to appear in a smartphone. The iPhone 5's camera produces better results, especially in low light, but the improvements aren't always noticeable. The best things about the camera is that it is significantly faster than before, and offers a cool Panorama feature for capturing wide vistas.

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Rhonindk
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Rhonindk,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2012 | 3:12:15 AM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
While the speaker is not bad, the speaker phone function is not nearly loud enough.

In some apps it can be fairly loud.
Kevin Nash
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Kevin Nash,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2012 | 12:43:57 AM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
Android os came out before apple had its app store. Apple gained popularity before android. It might be safe to say that apple copied android in the app market...... Siri is a nice tool to use but me and millions of others stop using it after playing with it in the first 2 weeks. Apple has fallen off and when I see my friends with GS3 syncing their itunes with their phones, and using hotspot it makes me upset that I spent too much money on what seems to be old technology in 2012.
instinctive
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instinctive,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 8:17:40 PM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
"It's frustrating to think how much better battery life could have been if Apple made the iPhone 5 even 1mm thicker."

Yip, exactly what I've been preaching for a long time, I even wrote an email to Apple.

What the hell, the 4S was already thin and light enough (if not, then you're stupid). If they had just kept the weight and thickness and filled the empty space with battery, they would TRULY have something UNIQUE to say about their new handset. "30 hours of 3G talk time, 24 hours of web browsing"... oh well...
RudiX
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RudiX,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 7:42:36 PM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
As underwhelmed as I am with the iPhone 5 I don't think there's the slightest chance of anyone seeing an Apple discount. Sales of this phone are gonna be huge, deservedly or not.
thinking allowed
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thinking allowed,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 7:38:05 PM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
iPhone 5/ OS 6 is an improvement. Though they could issue an update, and probably will.

ITS VERY WORTH IT if for just one reason:

the speaker is louder, you can talk while you drive.

Loud speaker means Also, Siri can read texts to you while driving... and she can dictate short texts for you... such as "ok", "ill be there". Not that its legal (but neither is typing while driving still everyone does it, and bosses EXPECT IT!! Grrr!)
SPOKEN Maps are GREAT FEATURE!!! But I double check with google maps before I trust it ;)
It is very nice not having to look at a phone while driving.

Conclusion:
LOUD SPEAKER = You reduced your risk of death or killing an innocent person a little.

BAD STUFF:
No more video out... so even with an adaptor, your video cable to TV won't work!!! I was charging phone/watching netflix at the same time, which was GREAT. Now I have to buy a Roku and remember to charge phone.

jhonk
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jhonk,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 7:30:48 PM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
--------
but still far short of Google Now's capabilities
---------------

uhh, not only is Google Now not even close to what Siri does, it isn't even in the same ball park....

even more telling is google Now came after Siri, after Google heard Apple acquired Siri to try and copy it's capabilities.... (where have we heard that one before from Google...)

hey, we need a multi touch screen OS for a phone... lets adapt Android to make one... I wonder where they got that idea...

hey we need a tablet OS, gee i wonder where they got that idea...

hey we need an app store... i wonder where they got that idea from....

not knowing Google Now is nothing more than search and a graph project that is trying to copy siri... and not apparently actually using siri shows you didn't actually use an iPhone before.... so your comments are suspect from that point of view...
Omnipotent
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Omnipotent,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 7:25:58 PM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
So Android users rant and rant about the iPhone short comings.
Oh what a restricted world Apple users must live, those iSheep. Android users sound an awful like PC users to me.

Buy the damn phone you want/like and stop whining.

Bashing someone for an article because he likes something over something else...really?

I have moved to Apple 14 years ago and have not looked back. Have not had a reason to switch. I just upgraded to the iPhone 5. Maps works fabulous in B.C. My old 3GS on IOS6 has NO issues.
My colleagues at work use Apple, their offices use Apple, the clinics I work in use Apple.

I think the Android looks nice. Good for you Android users. I have used the Samsung GS3 as one of my friends has one. Nice phone. I like mine better. I am happy that it works for him.

I like my iPhone better.
Spaz
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Spaz,
User Rank: Guru
9/29/2012 | 6:50:31 PM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
This article is WEAK. It makes no mention of how iOS 6 is causing people with a year or two old device, like iPod Touch 4G causing the App Store to crash. The 5 boasts a (technically) larger screen but it is puny and not even close to what the competition brings. The iPhone screen that is so slightly longer is still as narrow as ever and really looks disproportionate. All the features mentioned in the 5 are ALL, and I mean ALL, incremental upgrades. Yes, in some areas there are improvements but that MUST take place in technology. It is a given. You can't give credit when something is the norm. It's like saying the new Toyota Camera is more fuel efficient than last year. Umm. Yeah, it is suppose to be. That's the natural order of things, especially in the tech world.

Zeman is right though, don't go out and get the 5 unless you must. However, don't be surprised if the iPhone 5 drops down to a crazy low price this Xmas or Black Friday giving a lot of people even more buyers remorse in getting the iPhone 5 so soon and for $179-199 CDN/USD.
ImNOthere
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ImNOthere,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 6:33:30 PM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
As a buyer on HOLD for the moment.
Please comment on the
wifi problems
Scratches ,etc
Overheating

or is this normal for a new product
PHX_Todd
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PHX_Todd,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/29/2012 | 6:02:07 PM
re: iPhone 5: My First Week
Good article Eric. I didn't upgrade with the 4S as there wasn't any real innovation there. I'm feeling the same on the 5, nothing really that makes me excited. Other brands are making exciting "cutting (or bleeding) edge" technology. I got the iPhone initially because of this innovation, now it seems that Apple is too busy to really excite me with their latest product. My iPhone 4 is still going strong and the only thing I really desire in it that is in the 5 is the LTE coverage. The only reason I'm still on my iPhone is the investment in the apps that I've made plus the lack of apps on the other markets (I know that this is narrowing daily). I'm struggling on which way to go here: get with technology, but a segmented brand and a phone that may not qualify for the next release of Andriod, or stick with iPhone and have the software stability but nothing new when it comes to technology. I guess I'll have to get an android device and give it a 30 day test drive to see if it fits my needs...
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