So, the iPhone 5 has been launched, and there weren’t too many surprises – after all, whether you think its evolutionary or revolutionary, most of it had been leaked beforehand in some shape or form.
Read our hands-on iPhone 5 review here
There’s no denying it’s a potentially great bit of kit, just as it’s obvious that, like most mobiles on the market, it’s not quite the perfect smartphone yet. Join us on a trip of what we love and hate about Apple’s new iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5 wider ‘Retina’ Display
Widescreen is here to stay. Every television, nearly every monitor and laptop, and 90 percent of mobile devices not made by Apple are widescreen. And while we often wouldn’t mind a few extra vertical pixels, it’s great for video and many games.
Now Apple has finally joined the widescreen revolution. The high-resolution 4-inch IPS screen on its iPhone 5 sports 640 x 1,136 pixels (compared to the 3.5in 640 x 940 of its predecessor) giving it a 16:9 aspect ratio and 326dpi. Interestingly, this is the exact same aspect as Windows 8 tablets and phones, where Android – on its tablets at least - seems to favour 16:10.
So what are the advantages to the new iPhone’s ‘longer’ screen? It can fit an extra row of icons or folders. This might not sound like much, but with ever more apps and our increasing demands that access to them be as instant as possible, it’s nice to be able to launch a few more without needing to swipe to a different homescreen.
Movies and video will also benefit, as TV-formatted content will now play on the iPhone’s screen without any black bars while the average movie should only show minimal ones.
Last but certainly not least, you can now read more of web pages and documents, games will have more room for virtual controls, and in the unlikely case that iOS ever adopts multi-view/split-screen like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 has already done, the aspect ratio actually works for this too. On the latter point, we wonder whether the iPad 4 will follow in the iPhone 5’s 16:9 footsteps?
It may seem like a minor point, but the iPHone 5’s screen is still not HD ready, meaning its resolution (not pixel density, resolution) is lower than every flagship Android and Windows Phone 8 handset out there.
That’s an 80 x 144 pixels advantage to every premium phone but the iPhone 5 - without even taking into account those handsets, like the Samsung Galaxy Note, that offer 800 x 1,280. Again it might not seem like much, but that’s actually more pixels than the leap between the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 screens – how’s that for perspective.
This essentially means that while an Android/Win 8 smartphone will be able to display TV content natively, the new iPhone will have to downscale. You’ll also be able to see just that little bit more of websites and documents on the non-Apple devices…
The iPhone 5’s Design and Aluminium Chassis
It looked mighty snazzy and all, but the iPhone 4/4S’s case – especially its glass rear - wasn’t what you’d call practical. It was slippery and picked up every smudge and fingerprint around. Worst of all, one drop and it wasn’t just the phone’s screen that was in danger of shattering.
So yes, we’re very glad Apple has reverted to its more traditional anodised aluminium back for the iPhone 5. It takes care of all the above concerns, without any obvious downsides.
We also like that it’s thinner without feeling fragile, and lighter without feeling cheap – though we do miss the previous model’s reassuring feeling of weight. Subjective feelings aside though, smaller and lighter are nearly always good as it allows us to carry more gadgets at once. Yay.
While most other premium handsets out there provide smooth curves that lie comfortably in your hand, the iPhone 5 carries on the 4’s legacy of sharp edges. Okay, they’re softer than before thanks to the bevelling process Apple has used, but the new iPhone still isn’t as comfy in the hand as Android rivals like the HTC One X or indeed Apple’s own iPhone 3 series.
The iPhone 5 Rear Camera
It’s the same rather good 8 megapixel f/2.4 shooter as on the previous iPhone, except thinner.
It’s the same 8 megapixel f/2.4 shooter as on the previous iPhone, except thinner (the sensor might have seen an upgrade, but image quality is only marginally improved at best).
The iPhone 5 Lightning Connector
The massive, lumpy, proprietary Apple 30-pin connector of yore has been slimmed down by 80 percent for the new Lightning connector. Finally, we won’t have to carry around the cable-equivalent of a Gatling while the rest of the microUSB-packing world carries compact Uzis (bizarre metaphors, we know, but you get the picture).
We’re liking that this smaller connector takes up less room, is less likely to snag, and lets our gadgets – iPone 5 and its many accessories among them – be smaller. It’s also more rugged and, according to Apple, “smarter”, allowing for asynchronous two-way data and more rapid charging. All these are good things.
The iPhone 5’s lightning connector is still proprietary! This isn’t just incredibly annoying in a world where every single other smartphone available uses microUSB, in most of Europe it’s downright illegal. After all, the European Commision has ruled that all phones sold in these parts must have a common charger.
What does Apple do to circumvent this standard? It brings out a Europe-exclusive Lightning to microUSB adapter, and charges you a ridiculous £25 for the privilege of ownership. How is it complying with regulations to have a separate adapter that’s not bundled with the iPhone 5? Frankly, this is the kind of thing we dislike about the fruity company. It’s the richest in the world, after all; it’s not like it needs the money.
While on the topic, we never thought Apple would add expandable memory to its iPhone - and admittedly it’s something old Windows Phone 7 devices and some Android handsets are equally guilty of - but we still don’t have to like it. Especially since upping memory capacities comes at yet another ludicrous premium.
The iPhone 5 Specifications
We’re not sure quite what to expect from the iPhone 5’s A6 processor and graphics combo yet, but even if it doesn’t turn out to be a next-generation (dual-core) Cortex A15, we’re confident it will be at the cutting edge – though it’s equally likely Anroid handsets will surpass it within a few months.
It may sound a tad jaded but, when it gets down to it, as long as it runs iOS 6 plus all the games and apps as smooth as butter, most people probably won’t be that bothered.
The iPhone 5’s Lack of NFC
NFC is handy. It’s quirky. It’s cool. It expands what you can do with a device, offers new ways to interact, pay, link, share and more. Unfortunately, the iPhone 5 doesn’t have it, and no matter what Phil Schiller says, that plain sucks.
Even the ultra-affordable Google Nexus 7 has it built in, allowing you to share recommendations, info, ebooks and more with other NFC-enabled devices. We’re only likely to see more support in the future, both in volume of compatible smartphones and services. Apple has once again inconvenienced the consumer in the interests of keeping its own ecosystem intact.
The iPhone 5 LTE/4G
The fastest mobile broadband available, LTE/4G is now finally available in the UK courtesy of EE, so it’s a good thing the iPhone 5 supports it. Really, there’s only love regarding this feature from us, since there is no downside from having it. As with every other premium smartphone sporting 4G, if you find it drains your battery too much, just switch it off.
What are your pet peeves about Apple’s new iPhone 5? Do you agree or disagree with our likes and dislikes, or are there bits we didn’t include that are making you tear your hair out like the bottom-mounted headphone jack? Let us know in the comments!