I used a 4S temporarily for a few weeks before I received a review unit. Switching between iPhones is seamless; everything is carried over, down to your call history and scroll position on Tweetbot.
The iPhone 5 has been completely redesigned, and while height has been increased to 4.87-inches (compared the 4.5-inches on the 4S), it’s still 18% thinner and 20% lighter at 112g. When you pick up the iPhone 5 for the first time, you can’t help but notice just how light it is – almost fragile, yet manages to feel sturdy. This is due to its aluminium back, which replaces the glass back found on the 4 and 4S. The 30-pin connector has been replaced by an 8-pin Lightning connector; thereby making any previous accessories incompatible with the 5. The Lightning cable can be inserted either way facing up – handy when charging your phone at night in the dark.
The taller handset now accommodates a 4-inch Retina display, with a screen resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels, and displays 5 rows of icons. It is still comfortable enough to scroll with one thumb. Initially I thought I’d be bothered by the height of the phone, but it seems well disguised by its weight. When scrolling though Twitter feeds, the taller screen is definitely noticeable (especially since all I care about is text, and the more that can be displayed – sans ads, the better). Colours appear brighter and more vibrant, too. The sleek redesign on the 5 makes it one of the most attractive phones on the market.
UNDER THE HOOD
The iPhone 5 runs on Apple’s dual-core A6 chip, which is noticeably faster. You can launch apps, switch between apps, and most impressively, take photos with no lag. Every tap on the camera (or the + volume button) took photos instantaneously. I couldn’t do it at that speed on my 4. The new chip also promised better battery life, and I can’t say I’ve noticed it. I just use the same measures I did with my 4 to save on battery life, like turning 3G off when I’m at home on WiFi, or use 3G sparingly when I’m out. (I’m also still waiting for a breakthrough in battery technology from any manufacturer, because that’s all it takes). Over the holidays I played a bunch of games, more than normal, and noticed the phone heated up a bit. Thankfully, I’m not playing that many games now.
OS AND APPS
The phone runs on iOS 6, and if you’re an existing iOS user, it’s no surprise what to expect. If you want your phone to just work without major tweaking straight out the box, then iOS is for you. If you buy an iPhone 5, the first app I would recommend you download is Google Maps (now with turn-by-turn voice navigation), and then move Apple Maps into a folder you’re not going to access very often. The App Store (US) currently has over 700,000 apps to choose from. And just a few weeks ago, iTunes officially launched in South Africa. You can now buy local and international music and buy or rent movies.
CAMERA AND VIDEO
The iSight camera on the iPhone 5 is exactly the same as the 4S. It’s 8-megapixel with LED flash, has face detection and a Panorama mode, which lets you take a seamless, up to 240 degree photo, that is ~28 megapixels. The front-facing FaceTime camera has been improved to 1.2-megapixels and trust me, you’ll definitely see the improvement when taking self portraits. Video on the iSight camera is full 1080p HD, while the front facing camera can handle 720p.
The iPhone 5’s LTE functionality does not work in South Africa just yet, perhaps we will get it with the next iOS 6 update. The handset supports a faster wireless connection and Bluetooth 4.0.
The iPhone 5 is a worthy upgrade to the 4 (even though you will end up with a bunch of accessories that are now useless); or if you’re looking to switch to an iPhone. It looks better than all previous iPhones, it’s lighter, and just faster. You may want to get a cover for it because it feels fragile.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 15 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org