iPhone 5 Is The New Sheriff In Town

By Seaver Wong

It’s that time of year again. Apple has released their new iPhone 5. People line up a week before it comes out in the Apple Store hoping they can buy it, after preordering their own copy though. Why? Some people are fanboys/fangirls who want the newest thing Apple has to offer. Others hope to make a quick buck reselling it on eBay. Some people naturally gravitate towards Apple as they are coming from regular phones or really old smartphones. Others have waited it out for this phone so they can renew their contracts. Others just like the attention from lining up at 2 AM after midnight. I feel these are the most likely reasons to switch, but I’m sure everybody has their own reasons, which may be different from what is listed, which is fine. However, the most important thing you’re asking is if the iPhone 5 worth getting, right? Yes, but not without some faults. Read on.

The iPhone 5 is the successor to the iPhone 4. I don’t consider the iPhone 4S a successor, but rather a continuation of the iPhone 4 that shows its true potential. The iPhone 5 now has a 4-inch screen. Second thing to note is that it’s faster than the iPhone 4, which is due to the 1.3GHz dual-core Apple A6 processor with a triple-core 266MHz Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). The A6 is 22% smaller than the Apple A5 and consumes less power than the A5. The camera is now 8 MP, can record HD video at 1080p, and is covered in sapphire lens to prevent scratches and can now record panorama shots courtesy of iOS 6. The front camera is now a 1.2 MP that can record HD video up to 720p.Quality looks improved. However, you’ll notice the improvements more depending on the conditions you shoot photos in. The whole phone weighs in at 3.9 ounces, making it the lightest iPhone since the iPhone 4S (which weighs 4.9 ounces). The iPhone is so light that some people have become worried about it possibly slipping it out of their hands due to its very light weight.The whole phone is now anodized aluminum with glass rather than stainless steel and glass. This was done to increase durability if the iPhone ever flew out of your hands. However, there is a minor situation with that which we’ll get to later on. The speaker now has 3 microphones designed to pick up sound and help reduce noise, which actually works. The speakers are bigger now and the sound is crystal clear. Reception varies depending on where you are and what carrier you’re on. The headphone jack is now located at the bottom of the phone next to the speakers rather than being on the top next to the power button to facilitate better ergonomics. You’ll find some manuals, the new EarPods, the new Lightning connector, and the good old USB to plug jack charger inside the box in addition to the iPhone 5 itself.

Compared to the iPhone 4S, as stated before, speed and performance have a negligible difference. The iPhone 5 is lighter, a larger screen with the same Retina Display at 326ppi (pixels per inch), 1GB of RAM compared to 512MB on the iPhone 4S, low lighting shooting, 8 hours of web on 3G/LTE and 10 hours on Wi-Fi compared to the 4S’ 6 hours on 3G and 9 hours on Wi-Fi. In the end, there’s not much difference for the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S other than the larger screen and 4G LTE, because iOS 6 gives all the features of the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 4S. This still makes it a viable contender in the smartphone market. Clearly, the iPhone 4S is still a good phone to get because of the iOS 6 upgrade. There is no need to upgrade to the iPhone 5 unless you need 4G LTE connectivity and that 16:9 screen.

The iPhone 5 has HD Voice compatibility that allows for clearer and crisper sound, though there is a carrier caveat which we’ll get to later. Siri can now talk about sports stats and show movie reviews. It can also make restaurant reservations, launch apps, and give you the latest Facebook and Twitter updates via dictation. The new EarPods come with the new iPhone 5 for a more comfortable feel. The iPhone also ditches the old 30-pin dock connector for the new Lightning connector. It’s the size of a micro-USB jack with the speeds of USB 2.0. You can use it irreversible of either side. Facebook connectivity comes standard for the iPhone 5 courtesy of iOS 6. Apple has counteracted Google Wallet wit their own Passbook feature to make up for the lack of Near Field Communications (NFC) and to save battery life. It collects QR codes from plane tickets, Starbucks cards, movie tickets, etc. and stores them, which is original, but whether it’ll take off is another thing. Battery life is also good, lasting about a day (especially if you use it for email and Twitter, web browsing, music playback, some gaming, and occasional videos.) Apple has gone with their own Apple Maps application (ditching Google Maps in the process), and now has turn-by-turn navigation. You cannot set a “Do Not Disturb” message if you’re in a meeting or sleeping at home. Facetime can now be used over cellular, but you’ll be subject to additional charges depending on your carrier (i.e. AT&T). To maintain feature parity with OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), iOS 6 has also added more support for Chinese customers with Baidu, Sina Weibo, Tudou, Youku, Chinese Dictionary, and improved Chinese text input. One thing to note, the iPhone is still easy to use because of its simple user interface. Your grandparents could easily pick up on how to use an iPhone, especially if they don’t speak English. Everything about the iPhone screams intuitive. Finally, Apple still has the best music content and the greatest number and quality of apps. Android still doesn’t even come close quality wise, and this is coming from a Android Tablet user (ASUS Eee Pad Transformer).

As to the negatives, let’s start with the obvious. Apple Maps is really lacking. It gives people the wrong directions and clearly shows military defenses which should be blurred out (Google and Nokia do this). It also looks incomplete as some places look like they’ll either lead you off the map or they’re haphazardly tacked on and attached together at the last minute. Apple CEO Tim Cook even had to apologize for Apple Maps, state that it was a work in progress, and that he recommended third-party apps for the time-being. That shows you alone how bad it is. iOS 6, for all of its new features is also beginning to show its age. It’s still the same thing, a bunch of apps across a screen. That has never changed at its core, even with the Notification Center function. 4G LTE use will drain battery faster. The back of the iPhone is prone to scratching now because it is now oxidized aluminum which was painted over on the black colored models. HD Voice compatibility is not available on Verizon or Sprint. AT&T users don’t have LTE compatibility with the international LTE users, whereas Verizon and Sprint do. For Verizon, Wi-Fi wasn’t working correctly, though it has been fixed now via an update. Pictures have a purple tint to them that might be because of the sapphire lens itself, though it’s more noticeable under bright light. Sprint users do not have LTE deployed yet at almost every location, so you’ll still be on 3G for now. There are actually three versions of the iPhone 5 due to the use of different spectrums of 4G LTE, one for AT&T, one for Sprint and Verizon, and one for International users outside of America. For more info on 4G coverage, visit http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/. Passbook doesn’t have NFC, which is also a bad thing because there is so much Apple can do with NFC in terms of virtual wallets and mobile payment systems. That’s one area Apple needs to catch up because Google and Microsoft are making significant headways in that area already with Google Wallet and the Wallet Hub.

Even with all these negatives, Apple is all about simplicity and that looks to have been preserved here. These problems don’t break the iPhone at all. I think it’s normal that an iPhone will be scratched eventually, you can always buy a case for it if that’s not good enough. So many people forget that it’s just a smartphone, not Jesus Christ resurrected. It’s an expensive investment of course, but it’s still just a smartphone.

The iPhone 5 is a great smartphone. For those who have an iPhone 4S, there’s no need to upgrade unless you really want the larger screen and 4G speeds (especially if you’re on Sprint). You can also use this on T-Mobile’s plans (prepaid or contract) with ONLY 2G speeds (EDGE). The operating system is showing its age and beginning to feel dated, but it still performs well. It’s the new standard bearer for Apple items. It might not persuade you to drop your Android (unless you’re still on a Droid 1 and don’t use any apps at all, in which case, go for the iPhone 5), but it’s definitely full of “wow”. This is due to its newfound lightness and still simplistic user interface. It costs $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB with a two-year contract regardless of carrier. If you choose to buy it unlocked for international use, it costs $649 for the 16GB, $749 for 32GB, and $849 for the 64GB. Logging in to the Apple Store will display the cost of how much you have to pay to unlock the phone. To wrap this up, the iPhone 5 is definitely the iPhone you’ve been waiting for. For the next two years anyway. Right now, I’d say that we have a new sheriff in town and it’s the iPhone 5.

For more info, please visit http://www.apple.com/iphone/.

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