iPhone 5 Review: Apple's Best iPhone Yet

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion

The iPhone 5 is the best iPhone ever. If you're working with an earlier iPhone, and you're eligible for a contract upgrade, don't hesitate to grab an iPhone 5 if you plan to stick with Apple. The iPhone 5 is everything the iPhone 4S was, but better. The iPhone 5 has a higher resolution screen, LTE, and a lighter, thinner  frame with better battery life. It also come close to or doubles the performance of the iPhone 4S in virtually every benchmark we threw at it. If you're already an iOS fan, you'll likely love the iPhone 5.

But here's the question for everyone else: is the new iPhone 5 a serious rival to smartphones like Nokia's upcoming Lumia 920, the Samsung Galaxy S III, or HTC's newest line-up of Windows Phone and Android handsets? The answer to that question depends on which platform you want to align yourself with.

Smartphones wars are not solely about specifications and features. The fact of the matter is that Apple's iPhone 5 is fast. Perceptually, it runs iOS 6 as fast as the Galaxy S III runs Android and the Lumia 920 will likely run Windows Phone 8. Speed isn't the only factor to consider though. Smartphone users must also consider the entire ecosystem. If you're enamored by things like Google Wallet, Android's high degree of tweakability or Microsoft's WP8 interface, there's nothing the iPhone 5 adds to the equation that'll sway you, other than a wider assortment of apps perhaps.

Its 4" display, LTE radio and availability on three of the major U.S. carriers is nothing new or revolutionary. Android and Windows Phone handsets have had these features for months and months. In fact, the iPhone 5 is arguably on the lower-end of the spectrum as far as its specifications go. But the iPhone 5 really isn't about converting Android loyalists. If you're a fan of ICS or Jelly Bean, you have plenty of excellent handsets to choose from, including the Galaxy Nexus which is selling for a relatively cheap $399 off-contract. And of course, HTC and Nokia have an amazing slate of Windows Phone products planned for the holidays. It has never been a better time to shop in the booming smartphone market.

But, for those in the iOS arena, the iPhone 5 is a major upgrade in almost every way. You may recall analysts having a tough time deciding on whether the iPhone 4S was worth the update from the iPhone 4. But this decision is much easier. If you're on the iPhone 4, you will likely be impressed with the iPhone 5's snappy performance, larger screen and faster LTE cellular connection, so long as coverage is available in your area. If you're an existing iPhone 4S owner, and you aren't eligible for an update, you probably should wait. iOS 6 is available for the iPhone 4S, and it brings all of the bells and whistles save for the larger screen and LTE radio. Even the Panorama camera mode is there.

The best part of the iPhone 5 is a combination of not only the hardware, but also the software. Though the hardware side of the iPhone 5 excellent, it's the software that may sway you or turn you off.  And if you're already into iOS (assuming you are, if you're a 4S owner), just keep your existing handset and download iOS 6. You can take the next opportunity for an upgrade promotion with your carrier of choice or you might even be happy you waited when the iPhone 5S lands next year (if that's what it's called).  Regardless, no matter how you slice it, the iPhone 5 puts Apple on much better footing with the top smartphones in the market from any camp and its performance, build quality, fit and finish are second to none.

  • Truly elegant / light design
  • High-speed LTE radio
  • Double the performance vs. iPhone 4S
  • Strong graphics performance
  • Refined UI with iOS6
  • Beautiful 4" display
  • Issues with current Maps app
  • New Lightning connector to deal with
  • No NFC

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