iPhone 5 Review
Apple’s iPhone 5 has been on sale for almost a month and Apple still cannot fill orders quickly enough. What is it about this phone or Apple that drives millions of people stay up late at night to pre-order, camp overnight in front of stores to buy one, or pay hundreds of dollars over MSRP just to have it? Lets find out.
In real life, the iPhone 5 is noticeably thinner and lighter than all the previous iPhones and feels structurally stronger. I have owned both the black and the white models and they are both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use with one hand. The new lightning connector makes connecting your iPhone 5 to a USB charger or to your computer a breeze, because the connector is unidirectional – you can plug it in either facing up or down. The iPhone 5 also comes with the new ear pods, which have better sound quality than the earphones included with most previous generation iPhones and iPods. However, some people may still have an issue with how they fit.
Personally they fit me pretty well, but I wish they had rubberized edges to help them stay tighter in my ears. I also appreciate the larger remote control on the cable. This has made playing/pausing, skipping tracks and changing volume much easier. Callers have had no issues hearing me with the built-in microphone.
SIM – Apple has again, pushed the wireless industry to adopt a smaller standard for SIM cards. Apple has moved from using the full size SIM to a Micro SIM and now the iPhone 5 uses a Nano SIM. The SIM slot in the Sprint model of the iPhone 5 is not unlocked and the phone only works with an activated Sprint SIM. It has been reported that Sprint will unlock their iPhones for customers with good standing accounts who need to travel internationally. If you end up swapping SIM cards a lot, make sure to keep your extras in a secure location because these cards are tiny!
Processor - The Apple designed A6 dual-core processor out performs every dual-core smartphone or tablet processor currently sold on the market, while offering decent battery life. Some benchmarks even show the A6 outperforming mobile devices with quad-core processors. I have access to a 3GS as well as a 4S for testing, and the iPhone 5 is notably faster than the 4S for every task, from opening or switching apps, to loading or saving photos, to for starting up and shutting down. It’s very difficult to get the phone to lag at all. Apple has also bumped up the amount of RAM in the device to 1GB (up from 512mb).
Camera – Much of the camera remains unchanged from the 4S. It is still 8 megapixels with a built-in flash, but Apple has opted to go with a sapphire lens, which is tougher to scratch than the previous lens and it is also thinner. The downside of using a sapphire lens is that bright lights that are just out of the frame of a photo or video cause a purple hazing effect to appear in some parts of the photo or video. Apple’s response to this is for customers to angle their phones away from the source of the bright light. This is easier said than done for a lot of outdoor photos, but there’s nothing that can be done about this right now. The photos and videos that come out of the iPhone 5 are as good as the 4S (which is to say very good). Worth mentioning is the addition of a Panorama mode only available on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 with iOS 6. This is an incredibly easy feature to activate in the options menu within the camera app, and is also very easy to use. The resulting panoramic photo is about 16MB in size and 28 megapixels. A lot of other smartphones have a panoramic feature, including Android devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and various HTC Windows Phones, but none of them generate such a high quality and large image. The front facing camera also got an upgrade and can now take 1.2MP photos and 720P video at 30fps. This enables the phone to take much clearer self-portraits/videos, as well as HD FaceTime calls.
Cellular radios - The iPhone 5 for Sprint and Verizon have the most radio technology packed inside of them. The Sprint model is compatible with Sprint’s CDMA network frequencies, as well as the popular GSM frequencies, and the majority of LTE frequencies in other parts of the world. The Sprint and Verizon models will not, however, work on AT&T’s LTE network in the United States. For those who are curious, the Sprint model includes:
• CDMA model A1429: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/
HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz);
LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)
• 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
• Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology
Storage – Just like most of the previous iPhone’s, the iPhone 5 is available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB configurations. If you’re buying the phone on contract you can look to pay $199, $299, and $399 respectively. There are no expandable memory slots built into the phone.
OS – Love it or loath it, iOS 6 comes pre-loaded on the iPhone 5. Some notable changes are the omission of YouTube (a Google developed app is in the App Store), the addition of Apple Maps, and the ability to integrate Facebook and Twitter. The OS is not perfect. Some users report rogue data use even with Wi-Fi enabled, poor battery life, and unreliable maps. These and other problems with iOS 6 will be ironed out with future updates.
Display - This is Apple’s first iPhone with a display larger than 3.5”. The 4” display on the iPhone 5 is beautiful. It is a retina display with 1136 x 640 pixel resolution at 326ppi. It has an 800:1 contrast ratio and utilizes in-cell technology that allows the iPhone 5 to have a display thinner than previous iPhones, which puts the screen closer to the user’s fingers. This creates a feeling if actually touching the screen itself, as well as allows for the manufacturing of a thinner device.
The phone itself is fast, period. It is the fastest mobile device that Apple has ever made and is one the fastest smartphones that I have ever owned – Galaxy S III included. The performance of the camera is a little disappointing because of the purple colored hazing that can occur when bright light is shining just out of the frame of the camera (a problem the iPhone 4S didn’t have as much of). If you’re looking for a phone with an amazing camera, you might want to consider the Nokia Lumia 920 with its PureView camera. How does the iPhone 5 perform on Sprints unlimited data network? Somewhat poorly, depending on where you use the phone. I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I have experienced both the good and the bad. Issues have included little to no connectivity even with full 3G reception, dropped calls, and delays of incoming calls and text messages. I have also had the pleasure of using the device on Sprints LTE network. I experienced speeds exceeding 30Mbps down and 10Mbps up. Unfortunately, LTE is not available on Sprint in most areas in America and you’re going to be paying that extra $10 premium a month for 4G data that you won’t have much access to. Generally speaking if you’re on Sprints 3G, it’s going to be slow. Trust me when I say, it’s no the phone, it’s the network. It doesn’t take much time to look around the Sprint and Sprint Users forums to know that the connectivity issues are not a localized issue…but we keep hearing that Sprint is working on it. I sure hope so!
Some users have reported issues with Wi-Fi connectivity but I haven’t experienced this issue on the various networks that I connect to and use every day. Reception and data throughput are on par with my experiences on the iPhone 4S, except that web pages load faster in Safari on the iPhone 5 thanks to the processing power of the A6 chip. One thing that most users can appreciate about the iPhone 5 is the experience when watching wide-screen videos. Most of my video podcasts, YouTube videos, and video recordings fill the
entire screen with no cropping. The extra screen space also allows users to fit an extra row of icons on their home screens, view more notifications, e-mails, text messages, and webpages too.
I recognize there are certain elements of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 that I have failed to cover in this review. However, based on the 3 weeks that I have owned and used this device, I believe that I have covered what is most relevant to a majority of users and this review accurately conveys what most Sprint iPhone 5 owners will experience while on the network. The iPhone 5 is a powerful phone for both beginners and advanced users, and the problems that currently plague iOS 6 will be improved with future software updates from Apple.