on 30 April 2013
So, the iPhone 5 - the 'wonder' phone. Possibly the most-desired phone amongst the 14-35 year old market. I say market, but the beauty of the iPhone is that it can be customised to suit all ages, and used by all ages.
I should start by stating I no longer use my iPhone 5, selling it when work gave me a Samsung Galaxy S3 (I've also reviewed that here if you'd like to see my opinion on that too). What I should also state is that for the first few days after selling it, I didn't miss it. That soon changed after a few days turned into a few weeks, and I realised how reliant I was on it for my day to day (and business ,to some extent) needs.
I've tried to remain objective here, as it does have it's flaws, so i'll give you an honest opinion on the device and whether it would suit your needs! As with my other reviews, I'll try to break it down into easy to manage sections so you can see how it stacks up to the competition.
Look/Feel - I still don't think there's any other phone on the market that tops the iPhone for design. There are those that come close, the S3 (I don't think the S4 is an improvement on the S3 design, rather a step back) and the HTC One (which is almost a carbon copy design wise), but Apple have long been known as market leaders in their design, and it certainly shows here. They've taken the 4S and slimmed it down even further, whilst extending the screen slightly. The chamfered edges mean it's smooth to hold, and it's surprisingly light, whilst retaining a good weight to it.
Build Quality - Again, impeccable bar 2 small niggles I have. The build quality in some areas is unbelievable - for instance you can't tell there's a joint between the screen and the edge of the phone. The device feels solidly built and the addition of the aluminium back, ala the unibody MacBooks/Airs, makes you feel like your holding a high-end device (which you are!). Sadly, there are a few let downs to the build quality, one of which I'm convinced wouldn't have occurred had the late Mr Jobs still been around when the final product was produced. Firstly, the aluminium back means it scratches easily, and the chamfered edges are prone to the odd nick should you drop it - so you'll want to wrap it up in a case. *Bonus Note* - the Incipio Feather case is excellent at preventing these nicks, and slimline so as to not detract from the outline of the iPhone 5. Secondly, the camera shutter shakes - and this is apparently a design flaw. I noticed a slight rattling noise in my IP5 after a few days of use when I had it up to my ear, so took it into the Apple store in Covent Garden. 'No, sir' the blue-shirted attendant told me, 'they all do that, it's the camera shutter' - he was right, a bit of googling found similar reports. To me, this is a sign of degrading build quality within the company - not something I've seen in any products Apple have produced since then, but to have this within their flagship device is a terrible let down. Some people won't notice or mind this too much, but it became a real issue for me.
Screen - the iPhone 5 has a retina screen much the same as the 4S has, and it's a beauty. Images pop with fantastic clarity and definition and the increased screen size may seem large at first, but you soon get used to it and wonder how you ever managed without the additional screen size. Pictures look beautiful, and text is lovely and crisp, really noticable when reading text on internet sites or an eBook. Tech geeks (and I do consider myself one) will scoff at the IP5's relatively 'small' screen size, but one of the things Apple does well is take industry-leading specs, like larger screens, and puts them in a mass-produced phone to make it an industry-standard for all phones.
Camera - the camera on the iPhone 5 is a significant improvement over the 4S. The 8MP auto-focus back-facing camera is a revelation, taking beautifully clear, sharp images in almost all conditions. The addition of the front-facing FaceTime HD 1.2MP camera also helps immensely, from FaceTime calls to the ever-popular usage as a makeup mirror (not that I've done that...) The shutter speed is nice and quick, allowing you to snap off a few pictures quickly, indeed far quicker than what previous iPhone models have allowed, which is a subtle but nice addition.
Operating System - iOS 6 is the OS on all iPhone 5s, and again, I'm sure this has been reviewed elsewhere, so I won't go into too much depth here. iOS is still the leading OS on a mobile for me, and it's ease of use and simplicity is unparalleled in the mobile world. Everyone, from 5 year olds to 85 year olds will be able to pick up an iPhone and use it quickly, it's that intuitive. If you'd like a more in-depth review of the OS, i'd highly recommend checking out Engadget's review of it here: [...]
Day to Day Use - my IP5 was my primary device for EVERYTHING until I got rid of it. It handled all my emails, calls, messages, Skype conversations, music (Spotify), running (Nike+) and gaming (for the tube ride home). Unfortunately, this meant the battery took a beating, and often from a full 100% in the morning (around 8am), I'd be down to about 25% by the time I got home in the evenings. That was with wifi turned on in fairness, and at 90% screen brightness, but still, the S3 outperforms it admirably here. I'd advise having a spare cable at the office if you don't want to get caught with a flat battery.
Conclusion: The iPhone 5 is the market-leading smartphone for a reason - it's an incredible phone. It is expensive, but your buying into the brand, and getting a superb OS on top of a beautifully designed phone. Those after something that allows for more flexibility and customisation would be better suited to an Android phone (S3 would still be my choice over the more expensive S4), but if you'd like something that can do everything in a simple and efficient manner, whilst looking beautiful, the iPhone 5 is the phone for you.
Summary: A fantastic mobile with only a few downsides.