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Opinion: One Mostly Good Week With The iPhone 5

Opinion: One Mostly Good Week With The iPhone 5

October 1, 2012
Since I was late in receiving my iPhone 5, I won’t bore you with yet another review of Apple’s newest handset. Instead, I’m going to discuss six of the phone’s main features – four very good, and two that could use some improvement.

The good ...

Is that a phone in your pocket?

I never thought shaving 0.95 ounces off the weight of a phone would make that much of a difference, but it does. Weighing in at just 3.95 ounces, the iPhone 5 is so light that you might forget that it is in your pocket. While this might sound like a huge problem, especially for folks like myself who are constantly misplacing wallets, keys, and yes, phones, it really isn’t. In fact, once you become familiar with just how light the iPhone 5 actually is you’ll be fine. If you can’t get past this weighty issue, I recommended buying a sturdy a case.

You look marvelous

I never quite understood why people would watch movies on their iPhone. After giving it a try, however, I’m now a fan. With a resolution of 1136-by-640, the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display is simply astounding. Watching movies, television shows, and the occasional YouTube video, is so much better with more real estate and resolution. Plus, app icons seem to “pop” right off the screen. Don't believe me? Visit an Apple store and compare the iPhone 5's display to your current handset.

Hey, it’s my iPhone!

In the past, upgrading from one iPhone to the next required connecting to iTunes on my Mac and waiting. And then waiting some more. However, this time migrating everything from my iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5 was performed using iCloud backup. Just 10 minutes after taking it out of the box, the iPhone 5 became my phone, and I was ready to play another round of Angry Birds Space and then check my email. While this feature isn’t iPhone 5 specific, it does make for a nicer upgrade process and something to consider the next time you’re in the market for a new phone.

What’s the hurry?

Apple’s new A6 chip makes the iPhone 5 the fastest iOS device yet. The speed difference is most noticeable for those folks most likely and able to upgrade, iPhone 4 owners. The leap from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5 is so significant, that you’ll wonder how you survived with the previous handset. Initially, I was worried the jump from the iPhone 4S (and its A5 chip) would be too small to notice. However, this concern wasn’t necessary. Even this little leap is a significant one. After all, the A6 offers twice the CPU and graphics performance over the A5. The A6 is so snappy, I can’t wait to see it show up on Apple’s next iPad.

... and the slightly bad

Beats has nothing to worry about

I’ve never liked the headphones that come standard with Apple’s mobile devices. Compared with third-party headsets, Apple’s accessory has often felt and sounded inferior by comparison. Because of this, my expectations for Apple’s new EarPods were pretty low. Designed to “not only feel good in your ears, but also sit securely in your ears,” EarPods will eventually ship with all of Apple's mobile products. Regrettably, I didn’t find them particularly good, at least from a functional standpoint. The Earpods don’t sit “securely” in my ears, and their silicone molding hurt my ears after about 30 minutes of use. On the plus side, when I could stomach the EarPods they did offer nicer sound than the earbuds Apple offered with previous iPhone models. And yes, they look fabulous. Still, who needs the pain? Apple claims that they tested 124 prototypes on over 600 people to come up with the new EarPods. If this was the best design, I’d love to see the other 123.

Where do I connect?

Finally, many have criticized Apple’s new Lightning connector, mainly for the added costs it might bring to users. However, the connector I’m most disappointed in is the one used for music or at least where it is positioned on the iPhone 5. Placing the 3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack at the bottom of the iPhone 5 might have helped Apple make a thinner handset. Still, its placement takes some getting used to. I’m not saying this is outright wrong, but rather considerably different. In particular, I find it to be most challenging to use when lying down and scrolling my device’s home screen. Because this screen is stationary, my headphone cord often gets in the way. In the future, Apple might be wise to make the iPhone’s home screen work in any direction, which is possible on the iPad.

A winner

The iPhone 5 will likely be the top-selling smartphone of 2012, and with good reason. Sure, it comes with some noteworthy software challenges that Apple must now address. However, from a design standpoint the iPhone 5 is second-to-none and not surprisingly, comes highly recommended. For further reading, please check out AppAdvice Goes Hands-On With The iPhone 5.  

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