Friday 25th April 2014,

Smartphones

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iPhone 5 Review: Is it Worth Buying?

posted by Amelia Hunter

When the iPhone 4 was launched in 2010, the whole world was excited: with revamped design, better display and more powerful processor compared to the older models, the new iPhone was a real game changer on the smartphone market. I guess we all expected the same from the iPhone 5 – after having to wait for it for about 2 years, we thought it would come and make a real (yet another) revolution in the mobile market, set new standards. But it didn’t happen.

I’ve never been an Apple fan and I’ve never tried to hide it – I always thought many people bought the iPhones just because Apple was a popular brand and not because the iPhones were outstanding. The fifth-generation iPhone was supposed to change my opinion, and when a friend of mine bought it, I couldn’t resist the temptation to borrow it for a few days to find out more about it. And I did find out that in 2012 it’s not as great as the iPhone 4 was two years ago – now the market has dozens of other smartphones that can easily beat it: the Samsung Galaxy S3 has a bigger screen and a more powerful processor, Nokia’s 808 PureView and Lumia 920 have better cameras, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx sports a bigger battery providing longer battery life. And the fact that it costs more than all of the above mentioned devices makes it even less competitive…

Despite all this, the iPhone 5 is quite a good smartphone. Not outstanding, not revolutionary, but good –well built, easy to use and good-looking. But can it join the list of the best devices on the market? And is it worth buying when there are so many good phones out there?

Let me add that you won’t find a complete iPhone 5 review below. It’s my first impression of the phone, and a more detailed one will come later.

What was improved in the iPhone 5?

The much awaited Apple iPhone 5 was met with mixed response – some geeks loved it, others were disappointed. Perhaps it’s because almost all rumors about it turned out to be true, and the iPhone 5 didn’t have any unexpected feature, it was just an upgraded version of the iPhone 4S. Anyway, what exactly was changed in this upgraded version?

Design

The iPhone 5 is the thinnest smartphone on the market at the moment at just 7.6mm, but it still looks like an improved version of the iPhone 4S – I’m sure most “ordinary” users, not geeks, won’t even be able to distinguish one from another. On the other hand, it’s not really a big problem – all iPhones have similar looks.

The easily breakable glass case of the iPhone 4S is now replaced with a full metal casing, which is definitely a big plus. And the bigger screen now holds 5 rows of app icons instead of 4.

Display

Speaking of the display… The 3.5-inch display has been the face and one of the inseparable features of the iPhones since the launch of the very first one in 2007, and it was a great display for a long time. But now the requirements of the users have changed, and, after making the iPhone 4S with the good old 3.5-inch screen, Apple finally armed the iPhone 5 with a larger 4-inch one, with 640 x 1136 pixels resolution. However, the pixel density was affected – it was reduced to 326ppi from 330ppi. At first sight, it’s not a big deal – the display is very bright, and a human eye is unable to catch the difference of 4 pixels. But for many years Apple’s iPhones were famous for having the best displays with highest pixel density, and now they’re easily beaten by phones like the HTC Rezound, the Sony Xperia S and Nokia’s upcoming Lumia 920, and even some tablets. Now, by reducing the pixel density of the iPhone 5 instead of making it even higher than ever, Apple finally gave up the title of best manufacturer of displays.

Processor

Apple armed the iPhone 5 with an A6 processor and said that it’s twice faster than the Apple A5 of the previous iPhone. “Faster CPU performance. Faster graphics. Even better battery life” – here’s what Apple promises us. Well, I’m not sure it’s really “twice as fast” as the dual-core A5, but the iPhone 5 really performs well, without any annoying lag.

Software

Apple’s new iOS 6 is a huge topic, and it’ll take a new article or even several new articles to review it. Here I can only mention that though it does have some interesting upgrades, it was still a big disappointment for many geeks. First, it doesn’t have any Google apps, so say goodbye to pre-installed YouTube and Google Maps. Yeah, Apple has used Apple Maps instead, but everyone agrees those are buggy, strange and not as good as Google’s famous maps.

Second, Siri was improved, too: she can now make a restaurant reservation for you or tell you what movies are currently playing at this or that theatre or what are the sports scores. Her speech recognition features have been updated, too – for me it was a real challenge to explain something to the iPhone 4S’s Siri, but the new one seems to be more intelligent. It’s nice, really. But many users just turn her off, and I was one of those users.

I can’t write everything I have in my mind about iOS 6 in this review (and it’s not an iOS 6 review anyway), so a more detailed article about Apple’s new platform will come soon.

How much does the iPhone 5 cost?

The unlocked 16GB iPhone 4S can be bought at Amazon for about $600 (£375), while the iPhone 5 with the same amount of memory costs almost twice more – about $1000 (£625). Do those small improvements justify this high price?

In comparison, other high-end smartphones cost much less: Samsung’s famous Galaxy S3 and Nokia’s 808 PureView I mentioned at the beginning of this article can be bought for about $580-600 (£360-375), Motorola’s Droid Razr Maxx, which has the most powerful battery at the moment, is sold for about $450-500 (£280-312), and the Lumia 920’s price is yet to be announced.

Some final pros and cons of the iPhone 5

So what do we have here?

Pros: The Apple iPhone 5 looks good. Moreover, it’s one of the most stylish phones at the moment. It has a larger screen compared to the iPhone 4S, yet the market has many other smartphones with even bigger and better displays. It has a fast processor, works smoothly and is rather good overall. The new iOS 6 has some nice improvements and is intuitively understandable even to those who have never used smartphones before. Plus it has 4G LTE support (forgot to mention it above!), which was also a welcomed feature.

Cons: The Apple maps are terrible and buggy, so many iPhone 5 users wish they could bring Google’s maps back. iOS 6, despite all those nice features, has no chance to beat Android’s Jelly Bean. Besides, not only the price of the iPhone 5 is too high, but because of the different size of the connector, you’ll be unable to use the accessories of the old iPhone 4S, so along with a new phone you’ll have to buy new accessories, too.

So is the iPhone 5 worth buying?

Well, if you’re one of those Apple fans and have a spare $1000, then why not? It’s a decent phone, after all, even though it’s not the best one on the market. But if you’re looking for something armed with more powerful features, maybe you should consider Samsung’s Galaxy S3, Nokia’s Lumia 920 or any other high-end phone, either Android or Windows Phone based.

User Profile

Amelia Hunter has worked as a journalist for about 4 years and covered tech-related news for a number of newspapers and magazines both paper and online. Not so long ago she decided to start her own online magazine together with a friend, and here’s what came out of it. Other than writing about the latest technologies, Amelia loves reading, fencing and playing PC games. Her favorite manufacturer is Samsung and her favorite movie is “Mr. Nobody”. She also thinks that “Der Golem” by Gustav Meyrink is one of the best books in the world, and “The Witcher 1,2” and “Dragon Age 1,2” are among the best games ever.

User Name: Amelia Hunter
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