iPhone 5 Review: Apple's Best iPhone Yet - HotHardware

iPhone 5 Review: Apple's Best iPhone Yet

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We've covered most everything about iOS 6 in a separate article here. It's an entirely new OS, so that warranted a dedicated chunk of digital editorial and analysis. But it's important to discuss how iOS 6 interacts with the iPhone 5 in particular. You see, iOS 6 can also be installed on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, the newer iPod touches and the iPad 2 / new iPad. Each one treats iOS 6 differently.


Apple has updated the camera just slightly from the 4S. Most of the specifics are pretty in line from the 4S, and indeed, the images are outstanding. The software is quick, taking multiple photos in a row is excellent, and the new Panorama mode is excellent. There's a line in the middle that adjusts in real time as you sway, and the goal is to keep your phone as close to that line as possible as you pan.


That said, Apple falls short on options here. You can turn on the grid or HDR, and tap to focus, but otherwise your camera options are nil. Why? This is one of the world's best cameraphones, yet you can't tweak the ISO, can't adjust shutter speed and can't adjust aperture. It makes no sense. This has long since been possible on Android, and it would behoove Apple to showcase the iPhone 5 camera's potential even more by giving people the option to tweak the settings. Not saying that many would use it, but some of its photo-minded users would appreciate it.


Siri also works really well, particularly over LTE. LTE is supported on the Sprint, AT&T and Verizon models, with Verizon's existing LTE network being the broadest at present. Siri also does a lot more than she used to, including finding eateries nearby (using Yelp's database), making reservations (using OpenTable), looking up sporting scores and finding movie reviews. However -- and this is a huge however -- most of Siri's features, even the new ones, aren't available outside of the United States. Take a look at this chart to see what Siri features are available where. Clearly, Apple needs to school Siri if it hopes for her to gain momentum outside of its home market.


Siri is also still only partly useful. You can open apps with it, but it's unsatisfying. Siri needs to be able to understand statements like: "Siri, open Navigon and route to 783 Miller St. in Lansing, Michigan." Why is there no open API for Siri integration in third-party apps? It's been a year; this should be a huge priority for Apple.

We also harped on Maps in our iOS 6 piece, but it's worth restating: this is the biggest step backwards for the iPhone 5. For city dwellers -- and there are a ton of those who will be interested in the iPhone 5 -- the native Maps app doesn't support public transit directions. The existing Maps app has a clunky option to download third-party guidance for mass transit; that's very unlike Apple. Worse still, Google has yet to release a standalone iOS Maps app, giving you no real alternative to the way things are in iOS 5. Let's be clear: Apple put out a worse mapping product on its own instead of bending to Google's demands and sticking with them for mapping data.


Perhaps you could argue either way, that Apple shouldn't continue to rely on Google, but Maps is a let down. Yes, it's pretty and turn-by-turn is okay. But TomTom, the company Apple partnered with for Maps, is a lackluster bedfellow. Garmin's mapping data is superior, and TomTom's interfaces have been historically subpar in our opinion. But alas, this is what we're stuck with. We're hoping that Apple updates Maps in short order with mass transit, or that Google comes to the rescue with its own mapping app.

The other knock is that Apple's new mapping application uses Yelp for destinations. It's hard to overstate how much better Google's location database is than Yelp, particularly outside of America. Users who are used to leaning on Google's logic to figure out points of interest in Maps will be pretty upset when they realize those features no longer work.


That aside, iOS 6 hums on the iPhone 5. It does everything iOS 5 did, but with a more polished effort. But it must be said: iOS 6 looks a lot like the original iPhone OS. Since 2007, most of iOS has remained the same. Updates and new features have been added, but the overall feel is the same. iOS is about due for a new look. Look at Android 1.0 compared to 4.1. The updates are significant, and they weren't done for the heck of it; they're useful ones. Hopefully iOS 7 will usher in some newness to an OS that's beginning to look and feel dated. And not by changing design for the sake of it, but by doing some fundamental things better.

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Can't wait for my contract to run out so I can get one for a discount! I was hoping to switch to Verizon, but they still can't do voice and data at the same time, which is a deal breaker for me. This time around it seems like it was a hardware decision by Apple, since they didn't want to include an extra antenna for Verizon and Sprint's network type. Oh well, I'll put up with AT&T for a little longer. It's not too bad where I'm living right now.

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Hey SackyHack. The Verizon version of the phone is actually unlocked and works on AT&T's network. And when connected to AT&T, it will do voice and data.  Not sure if that's going to be the case with all iPhone 5s (there's conflicting info at the moment), but I know of multiple people that have confirmed it.

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It would be great if they had an expansion slot. Sure with 64GB of memory you don't really need it; but having the option is good especially with the music, games, and apps I enjoy on my touch.

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Ray, the SunSpider graph has 'iPhone 4' misspelt. I think calling it an iPhoen 4 actually looks/sounds kinda cool though. Scandinavian perhaps :)

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MCaddick, arggh... good catch. Corrected! :)

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Great review by Ray but honestly benchmarks aside, I'm not too excited by this phone. The lack of NFC may be a smart choice from Apples pov but it puts the iphone 5 behind other handsets that are ready for the technology now. Google wallet may not be mainstream at this point but the ability to transfer files and other media with a simple touch is VERY convenient when you find someone with the same capability. The iphone is used as an mp3 player by almost anyone who has one and having the ability to transfer playlists to someone else would be a godsend. The only problem I see is that they may have issues with copyrighted music from itunes. As noted in the review the phone takes good pictures as well, imagine just being able to send the pics around effortlessly without having to share them on some social media website for everybody to see.

The battery life is excellent on the iphone 5 and I have to disagree with Ray on the decision to make the phone lighter and perhaps reduce battery life. I've had a dozen or so iphone users comment on the thinness and weight of my HTC phone, Apple made a great design choice by making the phone slimmer and lighter.

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Not being an iPhone user, I'll refrain from commenting on the review as a whole, but one thing certainly did strike me - the comment to the effect that «... the iPhone 5 has been precisely crafted, down to nanometer tolerances». Nanometre tolerances - one nanometre is about 10 hydrogen atoms lined up in a row - does anyone really believe that Apple - or rather, Foxconn workers - can machine this device «down to nanomet[re] tolerances» ?!! Hyperbole is an accepted literary trope, but beware of crossing the line to fanboiism !...

Henri

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Best iPhone 5 review I have read. What I wanted was a phone that let me do things I do with a phone easier and faster and the author has focussed on those.

I got the phone since my contract ended few weeks ago and had the phone for a week now. Once you get used to this there is no going back. 4S feels fat and heavy now and it is like going from a MacBook Pro to a Macbook Air. Extra screen space is also great and 4S screen now feels small. I will not go into everything here but for most of things I use the phone for, this has been a very worthy upgrade. Some areas that matter to me are wifi hotspot speed, web browsing speed, call quality, resiliency against drops and the camera. Video and Games are a plus too although not used everyday.

Maps certainly can be better but for my usage, it still works and will hopefully improve. For music, getting a good pair of headphones is a must. I have not had any wifi issue but I use an Apple router. Changed dock connector is a bit of a hassle since I need a couple of cables for car etc., but I can understand the reasons why it was changed.

Overall, I got this upgrade since I have now invested a lot in apps/accessories and wanted to stick to the iPhone and also that my contract had expired. It has exceeded my expectations.

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Currently iPhone 5 on the second hand market is very hot because of high demand. According to Movaluate analysis, AT&T iPhone 5 16G Black is the most popular among other variants which is about $800.Read iPhone 5 Sales Behavior on the Second-Hand Market here http://blog.movaluate.com/2012/11/05/iphone-5-sales-behavior-on-the-second-hand-market/

I hope the factory unlocked iPhone will be available soon to stabilize the second hand market.

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3 Months with my new iPhone 5 and i always enjoy the sound quality when I capture videos or sound.

The only problem is that everyone walking around with the same iPhone after 3GS.. I purchased a carbon sticker from http://www.coolcasing.com

and i don't get bored from the same exactly design over and over.

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