So we’ve finally got the iPhone 5 review over with and we’re certainly impressed by what we see. Apple has aimed for the stars, providing a refresh that has not only altered the internal hardware, but also the appearance of the phone altogether. Certain modifications have been due for a long time now and the company has managed to deliver the most it could – A slimmer design, a larger screen, better connectivity features, a reworked exterior and a fresh OS amongst others. Nonetheless, we’re still going to ask – Has it done enough to keep up with the competition? The answer to that lies below.
The latest iPhone did make quite a big splash at launch. And while the technical specifications were pleasing to many, some find it rather strange that a phone of its stature fails to crunch together compelling hardware. In the Android ecosystem, the high-end tier is generally occupied by quad core handsets proffering an HD display (some with full HD resolution), and various other components that are impressive to the ear. So why can’t the company deliver that kind of features? The previous generation one arrived with a dual core CPU and so does the latest iteration. Improvements have been carried out which make the new SOC faster than its predecessor. For instance, a dual core Cortex A15 is apparently snappier than a quad core Cortex A9 – It’s the CPU’s architecture design that matters more.
Here are some of the technical details of the phone –
Platform: iOS 6.0.1
Display: 4-inch Retina screen
Type and resolution: LED-backlit IPS panel with 640 x 1136 pixels and 326ppi
Processor: Apple A6 dual core SOC
Memory: 16GB internal, 1GB RAM
Connectivity: 4G LTE, DC-HSDPA, HSPA+, GSM, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS
Camera: 8MP iSight rear-facing, 1.2MP FaceTime HD front-facing
Battery: Built-in Li-ion
The design adopted for the iPhone 5 is a reinvention. But is it groundbreaking? Not really. A lot has been changed here. The form factor isn’t perfect, although it is way better compared to what we’ve seen before. The most noticeable difference in contrast to the previous generation handset is that the screen size has been enlarged. Well, Apple hasn’t quite stretched it wider. What the company has done is that they’ve designed the display to be taller, maintaining the same width as earlier. It’s somewhat like the goldilocks rule – Big, but not too large. We’d say it’s perfect for single-hand use. Below the screen, you’ll find the home button situated in the usual place.
Flipping the phone over, the aluminosilicate glass panel has been replaced by a sheet of anodized 6000 series aluminum, but not entirely. There are still glass inlays incorporated on the top and the bottom. The new backplate is smooth and looks to be highly durable. Most importantly, it stays cool for the majority of time. After a few days of rigorous use that includes sliding it in and out of our pockets filled with keys, spare change and the likes, there wasn’t a single scratch. The Apple logo on the other hand, had a different story to tell. The camera fitted here is the same 8MP iSight we’ve seen in the 4S. The only modification carried out to it is the addition of a sapphire crystal which is highly scratch-resistant and transparent, obviously.
So that’s the front and back done. Now coming to the slimmer part – The iPhone 5 is approximately 18% thinner than its predecessor. At 7.6mm thick, it can easily slide in and out of pockets. The edges are trimmed using crystalline diamond, owing to which we get a mirror finish on the fine bezel. While it all looks appealing to the eyes, there’s just one thing that bothers us – The sides are so precisely cut that they feel a bit sharp. It’s not likely that they’re capable of landing a cut, but what we’re saying is that gripping the phone gives a bit of a weird feel. Also, the reflective bezel gets scratched quite easily and so does the display.
– Display: A few extra rows of pixels, but where are the additional columns?
As you know, the iPhone 5 is much taller than before. Now that’s great; but with extended height should come more width. Apple’s philosophy behind this approach is that they want to make the screen size just right for optimal one-hand use. So what we’re left with is a 123.8mm long handset that’s 58.6mm wide. The difference in resolution isn’t that much. From the 4S’ 960 x 640p resolution, the latest 4-inch iteration comes with 1136 x 640 pixels. Well, the extra pixels do play their part clarity-wise. The Retina panel may not proffer an HD resolution, although 720p video playback is smooth and visuals are appealing. The screen’s size, however, doesn’t do justice to the games available on the App Store. And the majority of applications haven’t yet been optimized to utilize the entire display.
– iOS Maps
There’s been lot of buzz on the mediocre quality delivered by the new iOS Maps application. And Apple doesn’t seem to be happy with the outcome either. It went to an extent where Tim Cook issued an apology stating that they ‘fell short on this commitment.’ Improvements have been promised, but the question is – How long will it take to fix the imagery and get things to look the way they are in reality? Despite all the negative criticism, the application does have positive features as well. The 3D view looks fantastic in locations like the Sydney Harbour and New York City amongst others. However, against Google Maps on Android, Cupertino’s home-brewed version lacks details and the search option isn’t at all helpful at times.
The 8MP camera is truly one of the best we’ve seen on a smartphone. To test its full potential, we put the iSight snapper up against the quad core Galaxy S3’s 8MP shooter and even compared the images obtained with the Nokia 808 PureView’s 41MP lens. When it comes to shutter speed, Samsung’s flagship handset takes the gold, with Apple’s beloved coming in second. On the other hand, we found the images captured to be more realistic. Here’s the deal – The HD Super AMOLED panel portrays more saturated and vivid colors. The iPhone 5 camera even stands tall when snapping up stills in low-light conditions. The purple flare is a bit troublesome. However, preventing it from cropping up in images is fairly easy – A few minor adjustments in the direction you point the device work best. Where video recording is concerned, 1080p HD footage at 30fps looks great on the Apple smartphone and an external display as well, like a PC monitor and an HDTV.
Sample image taken in good lighting
There’s no doubt that the iPhone 5 is a speedy devil when it comes to performance. The dual core A6 SOC shows off its capabilities by delivering a buttery UI (the credit for this also goes to iOS 6) and smooth application performance. However, we did run into a few bumps where the App Store stopped responding multiple times and sliders in the settings menu would refuse to move. We ran this piece of hardware through a few benchmark tests. The Safari browser managed to achieve 937ms in SunSpider 0.9.1 (lower is better) and in Futuremark’s Peacemaker benchmark where higher is better, the built-in browser scored 877, while Google’s Chrome app managed to achieve 494. The Galaxy S3 earned a 637 score in this test. On a single charge, the phone managed to pull through for a little over 8 hours. This reading basically includes around 3 hours of web browsing over 3G and Wi-Fi, approximately 2 hours of gaming and music playback for the majority of time.
Sample image taken in low lighting
Slimmer, taller and faster – What more could we expect?
4G LTE – it’s about time.
The new iPhone is beautifully designed and the aluminum back panel is a treat over the previous generation’s glass inlay.
The 8MP iSight camera is by far one of the best we’ve seen on a mobile phone. And the Panorama feature works like a charm.
Siri can do a lot more now and is a lot more useful than before.
As robust as the form factor may feel, the display and the crystalline diamond-trimmed edges plus the Apple logo, get scratched quite easily.
Fast, but not perfect – we did encounter a few lags and the App Store froze up a couple of times.
Hopefully, Apple might find the need for NFC and add it into future releases.
The display scratches easily and the reflective bezel is prone to minute scuffs.
To sum it all up, the iPhone 5 is like any one of its predecessors out there, but much better. You get a similar 4S-looking design with many improvements, a taller screen, improved performance, a slimmer form factor and a very familiar interface. And to top it off; Apple has even managed to extend the overall battery life. A 9.2 out 10 rating is what this handset deserves. Potential buyers in the US can pick up the device for a starting cost of $199.99 on contract, while the unlocked version sells for $649 and above. We’ve seen products come with beefy on-box price tags, while they retail for a much lower cost. The sixth generation Apple smartphone, however, seems to be selling at a higher rate in India compared to its box cost of Rs. 34,100. It can be purchased in stores and through carriers like Airtel and Aircel for Rs, 45,000 and above.