Apple iPhone 5 review
The iPhone 5 needs little introduction. Apple’s sixth generation smartphone is already selling by the millions courtesy of its larger 4-inch display, faster A6 processor, new metal backing, iOS 6 software and 4G connection. But should you be part of the crowds flocking to it? Let’s take a look.
The big news with the iPhone 5 is the new display: for the first time, Apple's jumped from the traditional 3.5-inch panel. It's a welcome move: the longer 4-inch 1136x640 display is as sharp as the original Retina Display, with great viewing angles and print-like detail. Web pages and photos now look like stickers on top of the phone.
It’s a little odd getting used to the new, wider screen ratio, but we soon settled right in - and the extra screen real estate is very welcome: 3.5-inches has started to feel cramped recently.
The iPhone 5 also brings another bit of new tech to Apple's stable: 4G data speeds. In practice, we've seen speeds anywhere between four and ten times of those we're used to on 3G networks (though you can only get 4G on one network for now, EE, and only in a dozen or so cities, but expect things to change rapidly next year). That means rapid web page downloading, but also fast uploading, helpful if you like to upload videos on the go to YouTube.
iOS 6 meanwhile contains a few useful additions: Siri on iOS 6 is smarter and answers more types of questions - and can even help you get from A to B by car. Siri’s integration with turn by turn navigation in iOS 6 is superb, giving you a proper hands free guidance experience while you drive.
It’s hard to find faults with the iPhone 5 hardware: it’s refined, and packed with bleeding edge tech. Some people might grumble at the new Lightning port, but Apple had to draw a line in the sand at some point to keep making the iPhone thinner: Apple's AirPlay wireless streaming set up should more than make up for any docks you own now rendered redundant.
But it's also hard to be too stunned by it: despite the lack of glass, it still looks eerily similar to the iPhone 4S and 2010 iPhone 4. And though it's supremely thin, we would have appreciated better battery life: this thing tanks out far too quickly, and we struggled to receive calls sometimes compared to rivals we tested.
We also have some issues with the iOS 6 software itself. While Apple has added lots of little new features in iOS 6 - including the Passbook mobile wallet and ticket app - which you can read about in our separate full iOS 6 review, there aren’t any standout features that’ll win converts from other smartphone platforms.
Some new additions - like sharing options in apps to share web pages and media through Facebook and Twitter - completely overlook other services like Evernote, Dropbox, or well, anything you like. The Notification Center too, despite its clever Do Not Disturb mode, doesn’t let you interact with notifications in the same you now can on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
And while Apple’s new turn by turn navigation software is incredibly slick, the poor quality of iOS 6 Maps data may well outweigh this for you, and until Google Maps gets its own iOS app, that’s unlikely to change.