The iPhone 5 arrived at my residence yesterday morning. Among all the craziness of covering it for the site, I’ve been able to squeeze some time actually playing with the device, and there’s a lot to think about with the latest phone. Apple claimed that the processor was twice as fast, that the color saturation on the screen was basically flawless and that it was the lightest iPhone and thinnest smartphone in the world. Bold claims as ever from Cupertino.
While every other manufacturer launches hundreds of devices every year with design teams of 50+ people working out ways to corner every section of the market, Apple does things differently. Jony Ive and his team of a dozen or so designers has come up with one new design once every two years since 2008. This is the fourth since 2007. And boy, is it good.
Aluminum and glass construction ensure that the latest and greatest phone from Apple feels incredibly sturdy. Drop tests from yesterday show that it’s incredibly durable, despite the apparent easy-scratch nature of the anodized back plate. In fact, Taylor (from Phonedog) was unfortunate enough to receive a scratched unit right out of the box. Apart from that flaw, the build quality and design are stunning. Likened by many to a “swiss watch”. Its premium look and feel set it miles apart from its plastic counterparts, and make it truly unique.
On the design side, from my point of view, one of the highlights is the new Lightning port. Combined with the quality, individually machined holes and re-positioned headset jack on the bottom edge, it looks great from every angle. A far cry from the ugly mesh covered grilles and horrible 30-pin connector on the previous models. The chamfered edge adds a subtle glisten in the right light, and helps it to feel less boxy. There’s not doubt that this iPhone is beautiful.
When Apple announced the new, stretched-out, 1136 x 640 pixel display I figured it’d just be bigger. I was fine with that. It needed to be bigger. It’s not like the iPhone’s Retina on previous models was a poor display. 2 years after its release on the iPhone 4, it still punches above its weight in the smartphone market. But, boy did they make it great in the iPhone 5. Colors are more vivid, it appears clearer and sharper somehow. It’s a really fantastic screen. I noticed it straight away, just when looking at the default Phone and Messages icons, they’re so green! It makes the iPhone 4/4s seem really pale and lifeless in comparison. Thanks to being slimmer, you’re closer to the action too with the usual touch sensitive layer removed and replaced with in-cell technology. Daylight viewing isn’t fantastic, and remains the one problem yet to be solved by Apple’s genius engineers.
Phil Schiller exclaimed during the keynote event that the A6 processor was up to twice as fast as the A5. “Impossible!” was my first thought. Yet more of Apple’s brainwashing perhaps? Nope. It’s noticeably quicker. Just switching between games and other apps takes less than a blink of an eye. Loading times are drastically reduced. No mean feat when you consider how quick the 4S is/was. Web browsing is quicker too thanks to some new WiFi technology.
4G LTE? Sadly I don’t have it in my area yet. But, I’m on the UK’s first 4G carrier, EE, so once it comes to my city, I’ll be able to take full advantage straight away. Early results show up 30Mbps down and 10Mbps upload during early testing before the launch announcement, so my hopes are high. I’ll finally be able to get rid of my shockingly slow broadband connection.
The new camera is the same 8MP backside illuminated sensor found in the iPhone 4S, except squeezed in to a 25% smaller package, and added turbo. The image quality is incredible in daylight. I took a collection of sample images yesterday (check those here). Images a sharp, and crystal clear. Colors – as on the display – are more vivid than in previous years. I’m not exactly sure how Apple did it, but, the smaller camera system is actually better than the 4S. (Full comparison coming soon.) What impressed me a lot – apart from results – was how quickly it took the photos. It was pretty much instantaneous.
Overall first impressions?
As you can tell from a lot of my gushing above, I’m pretty darn impressed with this piece of kit. It’s the best looking and best performing iPhone to date. It makes the iPhone 4S look incredibly shoddy in every department, and that’s not to be sniffed at. It’s impressive work. “Disappointing update”? My elbow. I’ll have a full written review up in after a few more days of playing with my new toy. Keep it locked.
What do you think of your new iPhone 5? Is it better or worse than you expected? Let me know in the comments, or send me a tweet: @TiP_Cam.