iPhone 5 Review – Apple’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 5, is not revolutionary according to most people and I have to agree. It was unlike the iPhone 4 when they announced a new design and the Retina Display, iPhone 5 does not feel to have any significant trait that is jaw dropping. The most disappointing one is probably that all of the rumors were true (about the screen size, the design, the back plate, and pretty much everything) which made the iPhone 5 announcement less excited as it should be.
Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s actually a bad thing. iPhone 5 really is the best iPhone that Apple has manufactured so far (I came from iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S). In my personal review post, I’ll try to write less about the numbers and specifications (you must have read them tons of times on every review post out there) and talk more about my opinion & experience with the iPhone 5.
iPhone 5 Review – Design
In terms of the looks at a glance, the iPhone 5 does not look much different from the iPhone 4/4S (from the front, at least). Despite the fact that the phone is actually a tad longer than the iPhone 4/4S, most people will not know that it’s an iPhone 5 from the front. The back surface, made of aluminium (or anodised 6000-series aluminium, if you want to go technical), is actually the one that gives it away. The aluminium is cool to the touch and you can definitely feel the luxury when you touch your iPhone 5 every single day.
Though people say that the back plate is prone to scratch, mine hasn’t so far and I’m not wearing any case on this one. The phone either goes into my pants’ pocket or on a table normally though so I guess I haven’t abused it enough. However, I dropped the phone once onto a concrete when I was trying to lock the gate of my home overseas *ugh*. The dent can be seen on the photo below but I’m thankful that it’s in a less obvious place:
So yeah, don’t say that your iPhone 5 will withstand anything because obviously, no phone ever does. Considering it dropped to a concrete and that dent was the only thing it made, I felt more than a slight relief though.
As for the slimness, I saw someone wrote that: “the iPhone 5 is too thin”. I strongly disagree. Why wouldn’t you want a thinner and slimmer phone? Besides, 7.6mm in depth is not too slim/thin at all.
Thanks to the slimmer and thinner phone, it feels much much better than the “brick-style” iPhone 4/4S. As soon as I moved from the Galaxy Nexus to iPhone 4S, I frowned at how heavy the iPhone 4S was. Now I can put my smile back.
At first, it may look funny to hold a “taller” iPhone. But that feeling goes away almost instantly the moment you are using it. Having an extra row of apps on the first screen is actually handy and using iPhone-5-optimised-apps that take advantage of the taller screen is a blessing too. In fact, some of the most popular apps like Whatsapp haven’t got an iPhone-5-optimised update yet and iPhone 5 users now feel the need for it. It has become a critical feature.
The new Lightning cable is better because you can plug the cable in any direction now but most importantly, it can recharge lightning fast! During my tests, I found that the Lightning cable can recharge my iPhone 5 from 0% to 100% in just about 2 hours! This makes a big difference when you need a quick juice to your phone before you leave the house.
iPhone 5 Review – Features
There aren’t many new features on the iPhone 5, not in a revolutionary way, but everything has been enhanced. The screen has more contrast and saturation; which means the screen is more beautiful than the iPhone 4S. You may not notice this at first, but when you open an app that has a colorful design/screen, you’ll notice the difference.
Even under the direct sunlight, I can still see what’s on screen with ease compared to the other phones I used before (Nokia Lumia 800 and Samsung Galaxy S3). This is a big deal if you use your phone much outdoor.
The iPhone 5 is also more powerful than the predecessors and even though I was already happy with the iPhone 4S performance, no one would complain an even faster one, right? Apps load quicker and the infinite scrolling is super smooth now (not that it wasn’t smooth before).
The camera quality does not differ much, except that it is noticeable when you are shooting in a low-lit room. The new iPhone 5’s camera works better in a low lit situation compared to the iPhone 4S.
Here are some iPhone 5 photos that I took with my phone (resized):
Post-processed (brightness and contrast):
Who says Panorama is only good for Landscape photos? How about food? (untouched, in a low-lit dining restaurant – Pancake Parlour). The original size is 9.21MB, 6176 x 2344 resolution:
The LTE is an amazing feature as well, giving a connection speed faster than even my Wi-Fi connection at home.
Some people can actually get even more than just 16.24 Mbps download speed (depends on the location and network congestion). I read that a few can get around 50 Mbps and above! It’s amazing.
iPhone 5 Review – Problems
Unfortunately, turning the LTE on drains the battery like there is no tomorrow. It feels as if the battery is going down by 1 percent every few minutes, even when I’m not interacting with the phone at all. Connecting to 3G is better but the battery still drains quicker than it should. When I’m connected to Wi-Fi though, I can use my iPhone 5 much much longer than on 3G/LTE. There seems to be a bug on iOS 6 (as there are lots of discussions going around) so let’s hope they can fix this on iOS 6.1 or something.
There’s also a bug that drains the battery life significantly if you are not setting up the iPhone 5 as a new phone, but restoring it from iTunes. I had this problem before and followed some advice on the net: Reset all settings and then fully discharge the battery (until the phone is turned off). The iPhone 5’s battery life got significantly better afterwards.
So for now, I’m turning my LTE off, which is a pity – because one of the reasons I got the iPhone 5 is for the LTE support.
The Sapphire Crystal that double protects the surface of the camera lens is also a double edge sword. When taking pictures near the sun light, you can see the purple haze/flare on the screen/photo:
iPhone 5 Review Conclusion
Apple iPhone 5
Most people thought that the iPhone 5 is just a slimmer and taller iPhone 4S. I even made a joke about this when someone asked me about “Hey, how’s your iPhone 5? What’s the difference?”. I answered “It’s slimmer and taller!”. iPhone 5 is not just slimmer and taller, but unfortunately you can only appreciate it to the full if you are using it. The enhancements are quite obvious if you have already used an iPhone before and then using the iPhone 5 for about a week or so every day. You’ll notice it loads quicker, smoother (though iPhone 4S was already smooth as a butter on iOS 6), and simply the best iPhone that you can have on the market.
The screen is bright, sharp, and crisp, thanks to their new solution of removing that extra layer, it feels as if the icons and games comes to life. Looking at the screen on any angle, even during a bright sun light, still gives that best viewing experience. You’ll never need to cover the phone from the sun light with your hand ever again.
Obviously, the iOS 6 is getting old and even though it’s stable, fast, and sleek, I’m longing for something new, something fresh. We may have some good news for iOS 7 though as the iOS chief, Scott Forstall, quits Apple today. We’ll see.
As for the golden question: Is iPhone 5 the best smartphone in the market? My answer is no. Design and manufacturing quality, oh yes, of course. But in the end, it’s your decision whether you want an iOS, Android, or a Windows Phone smartphone.
However, the iPhone 5 is definitely the best iPhone so far, despite of the purple flare/haze issue.