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iPhone 5 review



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iPhone 5
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  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5 SunSpider
  • iPhone 5 BrowserMark
  • iPhone 5 GLBenchMark
  • iPhone 5 camera sample 2
  • iPhone 5 camera sample
  • iPhone 5 camera sample 1
  • iPhone 5 vs Galaxy Note vs Galaxy S3 vs LG 4X HD vs iPhone 4S
  • iPhone 5 scratches 3
  • iPhone 5 scratches 1
  • iPhone 5 scratches 2
  • iPhone 5 scratches
  • GoogleMaps for iOS
  • GoogleMaps for iOS
  • iPhone 5 Camera
  • iPhone 5 Camera
  • iPhone 5 Camera
  • Lightning to microUSB


Our Score:



  • Stunning design and build
  • Taller, more colourful display
  • 4G connectivity and superfast processor


  • Scratchprone chassis
  • New Maps app is a step backwards
  • Lacks NFC

Key Features

  • 4-inch, 640 x 1136 pixel screen
  • New A6 processor
  • 8MP camera with 1080p video and panorama mode
  • New iOS6 Maps app
  • Manufacturer: Apple
  • Review Price: £529.00

The iPhone 5S has now been released, along with the colourful iPhone 5C

Update: 10 months on

The iPhone 5 is 10 months old. That might not sound old but in the fast moving world of top-of-the-range smartphones, the iPhone 5 could be considered middle-aged, paunchy and preoccupied with looking at ads for hair transplant treatment.

Other manufacturers have upped their game, with Samsung now a very real threat to Apple’s long-time dominance of top-of-the-range smartphones. The feature-packed Galaxy S4 has had strong sales, but not as strong as Samsung hoped.

Despite its internal problems HTC has created a sculpted masterpiece in the HTC One, while even Sony has produced a truly competitive phone with the water-resistant Xperia Z. That's before we even get into Windows Phone 8 and Blackberry 10...

So with all these other options for people to choose from does the iPhone 5 still have what it takes?

Related: iPhone 7 release date

What do iPhone 5 owners think?

A number of high profile news stories emerged soon after the iPhone 5’s release. These ranged from the metallic back and side chipping and revealing the aluminium beneath to issues with battery life and the Apple Maps fiasco. We go into more detail about the maps app further on.

The most complained about aspect of the iPhone 5 is battery life. More than 2,500 owners gave the iPhone 5 an average of 6.8/10 for battery life. The Galaxy S3 and S4 score 7.3 and 7.6 out of 10 respectively.

The next aspect of the iPhone 5 that most irks owners is its value for money. iPhone owners have known for a long time that Apple demands a premium for its phones. The cost of extra storage on an iPhone makes it particularly costly to go for a 32GB or 64GB model, whereas Galaxy owners are able to add extra storage on the cheap via the microSD card.

However, it’s not all bad news for iPhone owners in terms of value. The iPhone 5 retains its value better than any other smartphone. This means you can get back a lot of the original outlay by selling when you upgrade. Even better news is that the 2,500 owners who provided feedback scored the iPhone 5 with 9.2 for ease of use, 9.1 for features and 9.1 for design, clearly showing that it also has a lot going for it.

Now let's get to the nitty gritty of what the iPhone 5 is really like.


Updated: Now with thoughts on how well the phone's design ages, iOS 6.1 and GoogleMaps.

The iPhone 5, like all iPhones before it, is an evolution rather than a revolution but it’s at least on the surface the biggest evolution we’ve seen for years with a new design, a larger screen size and superfast 4G connectivity. But, with a high price and the usual Apple-restrictions, is it enough of a leap to outpace the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3, LG Optimus 4X HD or the Nokia Lumia 920? With several months of use now under our belt, it's high time to find out, for a second time.

iPhone 5 - Design

As ever, we'll kick off with the phone's design and external features. When the phone first arrived, we proclaimed it "the most beautiful and best built phone on the market", and for the most part that still holds up. It remains the case that no other device comes close to matching the fit and finish Apple has achieved on the iPhone 5.

It all kicks off with the etched aluminium back. Gone are the glass back and steel sides of old to be replaced with a single piece of aluminium that’s hewn to form the back and sides. This is etched on the back and sides to create a matt look. As well as looking great it also makes the phone easier to grip and keeps it from slipping quite so easily – the iPhone 4/4S had a remarkable ability to slide off even the flattest looking surface.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 Plus Review

Contrasting nicely with the matt back and sides are the shiny diamond cut bevelled edges, glass front and glass inserts on the back. These angled edges make the iPhone 5 a bit more comfortable to hold compared to the very square ones on the iPhone 4S, which is definitely a welcome tweak.

However, not all is well. Very early on there were complaints that the black version chipped quite easily, showing the shiny metal beneath, and this has proved to be such a common issue that we'd stongly advise opting for the white version instead. That said, our white version is also looking surprisingly battered after only four months use. The whole back and sides are peppered with small dings and scratches that are surprisingly noticeable.

The main problem areas are the shiny bevelled edges and the Apple logo on the back, where any scratch is immediately noticeable against the pure shiny surface. And while we haven't kept the phone in a case it has always been confined to an otherwise empty pocket. As has a two year old iPhone 4 that remains looking near flawless - see below.

iPhone 5 scratches 3 iPhone 5 scratches 1iPhone 5 scratches iPhone 5 scratches 2

Frankly, compared to the glass and steel build of the iPhone 4 and 4S, the iPhone 5 is a signiifacnt step backwards in terms of durability. Sure, the glass back is slippery but it's demonstrably tougher too, and perhaps it could've been etched or something to make it less slippery. Hammering home the point are the black or white little glass inserts on the back of the iPhone 5 which, months on, are spotless. Obviously, if you're particularly careful and use a case the iPhone 5 will stay pristine for longer but it's nonetheless a concern.

All that said, the iPhone 4/4s are somewhat of the exception that proves the rule with most shiny plastic and anodised aluminium competitors suffering just as much from scratches. In fact it only goes to justify our recent complaints about the Nokia Lumia 920 having mostly shiny rather than matt plastic finishes while the HTC One S is another famoursly flawed anodised example.

Pick the iPhone 5 up and it's noticeably thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S, despite packing in a larger 4-inch screen. Specifically the iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter (112g compared to 140g) and 18 percent thinner (123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm compared to 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm). This makes a surprising difference when you actually handle and compare the two devices, with the iPhone 5 almost feeling a bit too light at first, compared to the reassuring solidity of the 4S. This impression soon fades, though, as you realise it is still a very well built phone.

With the iPhone 5 screen size having increased the big concern would be that the whole phone becomes cumbersome to use but Apple has avoided this by only increasing the height of the screen, upping it by about 12mm. This small increase makes minimal difference to the usability of the phone, with you still able to reach the full expanse of the screen easily enough.

Contrary to many a rumour, below the screen there is a home button that along with near identical volume, mute and power buttons will make existing iPhone users feel right at home. A few other features have been tweaked though.

Apple has moved from a now fairly standard microSIM to an even smaller nanoSIM, so if you’re buying the phone without a contract/SIM you’ll need to contact your network to get a new SIM or get the scissors out. You should be able to chop down most newer SIMs as the layout of the contacts is the same.

Other changes include the headphone jack which has now moved from the top edge down to the bottom. Having it here does make some theoretical sense as when held in the hand the headphone cable hangs straight down out the way and when you go to put the phone into your pocket you don't have to change your grip to do so - give it a go and you'll see what we mean. However with long term use we've generally found it to be a bit annoying, getting in the way of your hand when using the phone. It's not a major concern but neither is it really a step forward.

Alongside the headphone jack are newly designed microphone and speaker grills and of course the new Lightning dock connection. The former are now covered by small drilled holes, rather than one large opening, while the latter is a replacement for the wide, 30-pin dock connector of old.

The new connector will carry audio, HD video, data and of course charge the phone, with adapters available to convert the signal to just about any other type of connection you could name. Lightning is also reversible so you don’t need to worry about which way round you’re plugging it in, and it's a sturdier plug too

Concerns about having to buy new adapters to fit existing docks and chargers remain, as does the fact that Apple didn't simply opt for microUSB like every other phone, but there is no doubting it is a better connection than the old one, which is something we suppose.

An adapter is available that converts the new connector to the old one but one is not included in the box. You get just the new USB cable, UK plug and the SIM removal tool. The adapter will set you back an insultingly hefty £25.

Lightning to microUSB

To comply with EU regulations that stipulate microUSB must be used as the standard connection for all new phones, Apple does offer a Lightning to microUSB adapter too, but it again costs a rather grimace-inducing £15.

Getting back to the phone itself, the final pieces of the puzzle are the cameras. The rear one retains the same core specs as the iPhone 4S but it’s 30 percent thinner, to allow the phone’s overall thickness to come down. As for the front facing one, it now sits above the earpiece rather than off to the side, and it can shoot 720p video, up from 480p.

All told then, as a piece of industrial design, the iPhone 5 looks like a triumph, though with long term use it has been shown to have a number of drawbacks such as the scratching and headphone position. But overall there's still a lot to like and still no other phone matches it for that initial wow factor. But what of that new screen...

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


September 13, 2012, 5:32 am

Wow, no comments from Apple haters? Amazing, won't be long though. In no rush to upgrade from my 4, will wait until its been out a while until I consider buying one. I'm glad they haven't made it any wider though, I find some of the new Android phones such as the SG3 way too big and wouldn't buy one for that reason. Not because I HATE Android btw


September 13, 2012, 2:31 pm

Well then racey i better kick off the rage then!!! Seriously though another proprietary connector? Other than that no big surprises (not that we were expecting any). I wouldn't buy an iphone personally i don't like the design of the operating system which i feel has long since been surpassed in feel and flexibility by android (wasn't true a couple of years ago but is now). Then again i wouldn't buy the galaxy s3 either im holding out for a new nexus phone.


September 13, 2012, 3:37 pm

Its no shock really that they have changed the connector and no shock they have used their own format rather than the industry standard. Apple have always done things their own way. £25 is steep for an adapter but eBay will be littered with £2 copies in no time. My only concern is how much support will it give the phone when placed on a speaker dock? Especially now the phone is taller. I think it could place a lot of strain on the tiny new connector.

Marcus H

September 13, 2012, 5:26 pm

It's not as if they bring new connectors out very often - the old one is ancient. There are adapters for USB mini and old style connectors, and those will start to spring up a low prices I am sure.


September 14, 2012, 5:28 pm

This article makes me laugh, look up any other smartphone review on the site (LG Optimus 4X for example) and you will see comments like 'thankfully the headphone socket is on the top' and you will see heaphone jack on bottom of the phone in the 'cons'. Apple however do exactly this and all of a sudden it's revolutionary and you should just try it because it actually makes sense. Just made me smile.


September 15, 2012, 12:28 am

Glad it made you smile rather than anything else. Niall was saying 'thankfully the headphone jack is on the top' in reference to some phones putting them on the side - not many these days but some still do. Top or bottom is fine but I was just pointing out in this article that not only is bottom not a bad thing but that it actually potentially makes even more sense.


September 15, 2012, 5:52 am

This is iPhone 4.1, not 5. No significant improvement from the previous version. It is quite evidente that Apple lost the momentum since Steve left the company


September 15, 2012, 6:27 pm

I`m an Apple hater. I just posted a joke on another section of TR iphone review. It sums up my feelings on all things Apple.
Q, How do you milk sheep ?
A, Bring out another iphone.


September 15, 2012, 6:47 pm

So basically no comment on the fact it is still a 2nd or 3rd choice smart phone due to the fact the new S3 will be 4g and this isnt. Funnily enough some of are interested in surfing the internet at speed - something this review did not cover at all - surprisingly....

I was really looking forward to the I5 coming out and upgrading to it, but now find myself in a quandry as to which smart phone to pick - none of them are perfect and sadly the I5 is looking 2nd best to the competition.

Martin 6

September 18, 2012, 12:54 pm

Another TR review proving that proof reading is a dying art! Hopefully one day digital content providers might start using them instead of just spell check.


September 20, 2012, 5:20 am

When Android syncs with Outlook as easily as iOS does, maybe I'll switch.


September 22, 2012, 5:07 pm

Very classy phone - particularly like the new CPU which is more powerful than the GS3 quad core model and uses less power - as battery life is such a critical feature in a smartphone (and why Id never get a HTC). I think it should come with minimum 32gb built in - 16Gb is too stingy for the asking price. Apple can charge the asking price because people will pay it!! Ill stick with my Galaxy Note (bought new and sealed for £280 on ebay) because Android is alot cheaper and more rewarding to use. But if you have the cash to spend on an iphone (and many people working in London do) then you're getting a superb phone by the looks of it


September 23, 2012, 12:44 am

Just got my iPhone 5 and after a few hours of playing with it, I can honestly say its excellent! I've had an iPhone 4 since the release date back in 2010 so it's been a long wait. Phone feels good in my hand and the increase in screen length is very nice and noticeable (with compatible apps). The new "ear buds" are very impressive in my opinion (not that ill use them over my Bose ear phones) and will be a good back up set.

I have two very big gripes tho. 1, maps. It's a pretty poor effort from apple and I don't like that I've lost street view. I honesty hope google will be allowed to release the maps app because apples maps are no where near the standard of google yet. 2, dock adaptor! This should have been included with the phone! It's pathetic that apple are charging for an item that costs less than the ear buds and ten times more essential!! I have several docks that require the adaptor so there's no excuse for not giving it to us for free! It's not like apple need the money! Not sure Jobs would have done this!?

Fair score Ed! Awesome phone tho ;)


September 23, 2012, 8:33 am

Headphone connectors are better on the bottom. My phone goes in my pocket head first.

It's something I always liked about my old Touch HD2. Now I use Bluetooth so it's irrelevant.


September 23, 2012, 8:35 am

No, it's the iPhone 4SS ;o)

But yes, Apple is coasting on the value of its previous work. It's done nothing interesting since the iPhone 4.


September 23, 2012, 4:24 pm

@racey1979 - agree, I was considering the GS3 until I saw how big it was face to face. If they produced a phone with the same specs but a 4" screen form factor, I'd seriously consider jumping to Android. But the obsession seems to be flagship phones with jumbotron screens, which I find too big to hold (and I have decently sized manly hands, not tiny ones - guess phone size is very subjective)

@todd10 - saw that on yahoo questions. funny stuff - the best is the Samsung ad on youtube spoofing the losers who queue up outside Apple Stores for the next iphone. Funny as hell. I can't stand Apple's smug patronising marketing. That being said I never understood the hater thing either. I'm a grown up and I can spend my money how I want for the device that best suits my needs. I also look at all devices pros and cons without brand loyalty being part of the question - got a beat up old iphone 4 currently, it works for what I need, it's nicely built and fits in the hand. The galaxy s3 feels cheaper, is far too big but has heaps more features (and lets me get rid of apps I don't want, which Apple don't let me do to Newsstand and the new Passbook). I don't feel a need to get vitriolic arguing over why the phone that I don't have is utterly sh1t.

I honestly think WW3 is going to start as an argument between Apple and Android fanboys! Just pays your money on what you want and enjoy what you bought instead of arguing over what other grownups spend their money on.

Has to be said though I'm enjoying the coverage of Apple's monumental screw up on the Maps, it's hilarious to see them make a huge blunder.


September 23, 2012, 4:31 pm

"To comply with EU regulations that stipulate microUSB must be used as the standard connection for all new phones, Apple does offer a Lightning to microUSB adapter for £15 too."

Well then to comply with EU regulations shouldn't Apple supply said adaptor free so that microUSB is used on the new phone AS SOLD?

I do wish Apple would stop marketing their stuff as if it's revolutionary and going to change everyone's lives. Granted the original iPhone changed the smartphone market in a huge way, but now the iPhone of the day is just a very well built bu otherwise unremarkable smartphone among many. I guess I'm just one of those people who likes to actually assess a product's capabilities against my needs and then decide what's best, and I hate the overwhelming smugness of their marketing.
They make very well made, slick and easy to use products which are in a premium price bracket. Not devices which represent the second coming of the Messiah (or some other hugely world-shattering event)

Still....they can't smug their way out of the Maps cock-up. :) Funny stuff, Jobs the perfectionist wouldn't have allowed that release in current state, methinks.


September 23, 2012, 8:19 pm

The iPhone 5 is not all it is cracked up to be. My mrs has an iPhone 4S and would advise sticking with that or getting that instead if you must have an iPhone.

1) bad screens - http://forums.macrumors.com...
2) chipped finish out of box -
http://forums.macrumors.com... - with user survey
3) bad home button -
4) screen light leakage -

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S scratch & scruff test


September 24, 2012, 9:02 am

You're making the assumption that the iPhone 5 is "not all its cracked up to be" because you have one with all those issues or because you've found a few people complaining on a forum about issues that are very rare (apart from the scratching of the back) that haven't even made it to news?

I have an iPhone 5. It hasn't any scratches, it hasn't a dodgy home button, it isn't leaking light and the screen is perfect but if any of those things were to happen, I'd take it to my local apple store and within 5 minutes, I'd be walking out with a brand new handset.

As I've said previously, I love the phone, but I have issues, BUT my issues are common ones that everyone knows about, not one of cases on one forum.

What a ridiculous comment to make! I bet you don't even own an iPhone!


September 24, 2012, 9:09 am

Well said! I am a fan of apple products but I'm growing tired of the over marketing, slow catching up of other products and refusing to expand products past their egos!

Free adaptor please. The ability to put an SD card in my iPad please. A little more flexibility with my UI please! Why can't they listen to the people who have made them what they are!!


September 24, 2012, 9:21 am

@gdawg304 Well said! I honestly don't understand why some people get so carried away that they are branded apple haters or why people hate apple so much to be called apple haters!?

I've always liked apple products but I've always liked Samsung products too. The S3 is a gorgeous looking thing. I just think its too big for what I want in a phone. I'm not going to start slating every other company that isn't apple because I'm a grown up that left school a long time ago. Like what you like, buy what you want and just have a grown up discussion about these things.

Why can't we all just get along!?

Hamish Campbell

September 24, 2012, 12:48 pm

errr...you don't think changing the screen size for the first time deserves a new number?

Hamish Campbell

September 24, 2012, 12:50 pm

oh don't worry, Jobs would have done it.


September 24, 2012, 2:25 pm

If it was about any other phone I would say that you are right. But, Apple's marketing campaign presented iPhone5 as product that makes perfection look sloppy. After such campaign any fault looks like rose thorn in eye.


September 24, 2012, 2:28 pm

I bought one for the girlfriend on Friday. Apple duly delivered it exactly on time and the setup went flawlessly. Upgrading from her iPhone 4 to the 5 was absolutely effortless, this is something that Apple do so very well. Backup to iCloud, restore from it, job done.

My comments so far are :-

The quality is stunning. Anyone wanting to see a fun video, go on YouTube and watch the Android guys do a drop test against the S3.
The extra screen real estate is extremely useful (more icons, widescreen, landscape web browsing / gaming) but doesn't really make the phone any bulkier.
It's very slim and much lighter. Incredible considering that it's bigger.
It's very fast. She's gone from a 4 to a 5 and the difference is profound.


After only 1 charge the battery is not lasting as long as expected. She's certainly draining it to 10 / 20% in a days use. Although right now she is using a lot and it's not had many full charges.
She got caught out by the maps app in London on Saturday. Although everyone knows this will improve fast and she don't need it often.

So far. Big improvement.

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