So I’ve had my iPhone 5 for an entire weekend, and I figure it’s time to jot down some thoughts. I decided on a black/slate 32GB model, currently on Sprint. While I am not able to enjoy LTE on my iPhone until Sprint rolls out their LTE network in the Los Angeles area (which they claim to launch in October/November), I still like the device.
Profile: The first time I picked up my iPhone 5 from out of the box, I was amazed at how much lighter it is. In fact, for a second I thought, “This feels like a fake iPhone!” Yeah, it’s just that light. Now when I pick up an iPhone 4 or 4S, it really does feel like a brick in comparison. It’s amazing what Apple has done to the overall weight of the device. Even though I have wrapped my iPhone 5 in a case (and many more to come, reviews incoming), it is still incredibly light. It’s just mind-blowing.
Despite it being incredibly light, it’s still built very well. There are no “cheap” materials here, so it definitely doesn’t feel like a plastic Android phone. The guys at Apple really know how to design and engineer their products, which isn’t really found with other companies.
Screen: Apple also made the device taller, with a 4" screen. The width remains the same, which I’m pretty grateful for — otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to use this with one hand at all. At first, I felt a bit weird with the fact that I can no longer just reach my thumb over the screen to reach the back buttons in apps, and corners. However, given the light weight of it, I can quickly move the phone enough to reach the other corner as needed. The taller screen does not bother me as much as it did at first, and that’s mainly because Apple decided to not go wider. It just makes sense — not everyone has giant’s hands, alright?
I have gotten used to the tall screen rather quickly. I appreciate being able to see more tweets in Tweetbot, more emails, more of the conversation in Messages, and more of everything, really. I don’t really like non-iPhone 5 optimized apps, which end up being “letterboxed,” but here’s a bonus of having more space at the top: banner notifications will not interfere with your current app! An unforeseen advantage, I suppose.
Battery: The iPhone 5 is also a lot thinner than its predecessor. Well, maybe not that much, but it is definitely noticeable. It is enough to make a difference when you hold it, at least. The most amazing part is that while the device is thinner, the battery life remains just as good as the 4S — even better, actually. My 4S used to drain rather quickly, though perhaps that was due to the iOS 6 GM that was on it. But with my iPhone 5, it has been lasting me an entire day of being out and about without another charge.
A6: Thanks to the A6 chip, everything is faster and snappier than the 4S. Taking photos is awesome — tap the capture button as fast as you can, and the iPhone 5 will keep up with you. Everything feels more responsive, and games load up quicker. Definitely a big improvement here.
Five rows of apps: I had perfected my 4S home screen, but having an extra row available really changes things. I am now able to have four more incredibly useful apps on my home screen, which means less taps to access them. I’m a bit of a home screen junkie, so I definitely appreciate having the extra space.
iSight Camera: I have not taken a lot of photos as of late, but photos taken with an iPhone 5 definitely look clearer and more natural than those taken with the 4S, even though they are both an 8 megapixel lens. The improved optics in the 5 really make a difference, and it’s quite noticeable, especially if you compare them side-by-side.
Low light images will have the biggest difference. The iPhone 5 takes less grainy photos, and it’s much more clear. Video seems pretty good, and I love the fact that you are now able to take photos while recording video. I know that Apple is not the first to do this, but I like how it’s implemented.
And now the front-facing camera is great! I love not having mugshots that look like they were taken with a feature phone.
Headphone jack: I like it on the bottom. Why? Now, if you have headphones plugged in and are snapping photos, the cord will not interfere with your images. I also slide my phone into my pocket with the screen facing inward, and the top of the phone goes in first. Now I won’t have to fumble around with the cord since it will be near the pocket opening, and my phone will be ready to use in my hand the moment it comes out. It’s just natural.
Lightning: I was definitely surprised at how small this new plug actually is. The photos on the website before it was released made it appear out of proportion — once you see it in person, it is tiny. In fact, I would say that it is no bigger than my pinky finger, and I have pretty small hands. An evolution like this was only natural, and I love the fact that the Lightning cable is now androgynous, so that it can be plugged in both ways. No more fumbling around in the dark trying to figure out which way is the proper way to plug in your iPhone!
The only thing I wish that the Lightning cable did was sync/charge faster — I mean, why name it “Lightning” if the speed is the same as before?
I have already picked up two extra cables for my laptop bag and car, so now I’ll never have to worry about forgetting a cable again. Too bad I will have to carry a separate one now for my iPad.
Black vs White: So I’ve seen both in person now. The black is still sexy, and feels like the iPhone that Batman would use. My favorite part is that it is completely black — there’s no chrome whatsoever. However, I am a bit disappointed that the black one is prone to scratching and nicks rather easily, and the aluminum backing does attract fingerprints and oil smudges. I preferred to not use a case with my black iPhone 5, but I don’t think that is possible. I am hoping that my iPhone 5 won’t see too many dings over time, but I got AppleCare (for the first time ever) just in case.
The white is definitely like a jewel, especially with the chamfered and shining bezel. Some part of me wishes I had gotten white instead, since it doesn’t have the scratching and nicking problem that the black one has, but I still absolutely love the style of the black one this time around. But you still should see them both in person — I wish I could have both, but I’m not made of money.
Letterboxed apps will definitely look better on the black model though, since it blends in with the edges of the glass. You also don’t have to see the extra stuff around the earpiece, which sticks out like a sore thumb on the white model.
Final Thoughts: Even though I had a 4S, I’m very glad I upgraded, and I personally think it is worth it if you have the money for it. It’s actually a bigger change from the 4S than most think, because the extra room on the screen does make a huge difference. And it does so without making the device ridiculous to actually use with one hand, as phones should be used (not a 5" mini tablet).
It seems Apple is doing fine without Steve Jobs for now, though this may be the last thing that Steve touched before he passed away. I will look forward to the next iPhone while enjoying the heck out of this one.