iPhone 5 Review: Apple's Best iPhone Yet

Introduction and Specifications

The iPhone 5 is available, but only for those who pre-ordered right away on September 14th and were willing to stand in line at an Apple Store or pay big bucks on an auction site. For the second year in a row, Apple decided to unveil a new iPhone in the run-up to the fourth quarter, instead of in June at WWDC. Last Q4, Apple saw record revenues as the iPhone 4S hit store shelves. It seems as if the company is hoping to strike gold two years in a row as we head into the all-important holiday buying season.

Apple iPhone 5

Strangely, Apple's calling this latest model the iPhone 5, while the most recently released iPad dropped the number designation and was branded only with "new." However, on the rear of the handset, there's only "iPhone" printed. It's clear that Apple's intentions are to make just one flagship product per year (for now, anyway), and the company is going so far as to call this iPhone the biggest thing to happen to the iPhone line-up since the original. That statement is true in two ways.

For one, the iPhone 5 is the first major overhaul since the iPhone 4 was released. Yes, the 4S added Siri, a new camera and a faster CPU, but it was essentially the same design. And when it comes to Apple products, design matters big time. Second, this is the first iPhone ever, since the original was introduced in 2007, where a display is employed that isn't 3.5-inches diagonally. There's a 4" (1136x640 resolution) display in the iPhone 5, along with LTE support, a new A6 processor, an all new dock connector called Lightning, and an all new operating system (iOS 6).

First Let's take look at the device in action, then cover the specs and we'll move on to the deep dive with benchmarks.

Apple iPhone 5 Specifications
Specifications & Features
CPU Speed Apple A6 silicon (dual-core 1.02GHz ARMv7 as told by Geekbench)
Platform iOS 6
Memory Flash 16GB/32GB/64GB + 1GB RAM
4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches  (LxWxT)
Weight 3.95 ounces with battery
Display 4" Retina Display with 1136x640 resolution; 326pp; Multi-Touch; 800:1 Contrast Ratio; 500 cd/m2 max brightness (typical); Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on front, in-layer touch panel
Network GSM model A1428: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 4 and 17); 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); GSM model A1429: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5)
Navigation All touchscreen
GPS Internal GPS and GLONASS antennas
Sensors Digital compass, Proximity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0
Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
3.5mm stereo audio jack
Apple Lightning Connector
Camera 8-megapixel iSight rear camera with auto focus and 1080p video capture (up to 30 frames per second with audio); LED Flash; FaceTime HD front camera with 1.2MP photos and HD video (720p) up to 30 frames per second
Audio formats supported: AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), HE-AAC, MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
Video formats supported: H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
Battery Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
Talk time: Up to 8 hours on 3G/14 hours on 2G
Standby time: Up to 225 hours
Internet Use: Up to 8 hours on 3G or LTE; 10 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: Up to 40 hours
Video Playback: Up to 10 hours
Expansion Slot None
In-Box Content Main unit, Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic, Lightning Connector to USB Cable, USB Power Adapter, Documentation

Many pundits will say that the new iPhone is perhaps a little bland. The device is just now hitting specs that Android phone makers hit a year ago. There's no NFC and no wireless charging.  There are no cutting-edge bells and whistles that aren't widely available elsewhere. However, the iPhone has never truly been about matching specs with other smartphones; it has always been about an elegant UI and experience that "just works". Is the iPhone 5 a continuation of that legacy?  We'll discuss all of this and more in the pages ahead.

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