Archive for October, 2012

iPhone 5 Review

October 1, 2012

I upgraded from an iPhone 4 (AT&T GSM model) that I purchased during the insane launch in June 2010. I say insane because it took almost an entire day to get an order through. I think I was among the last orders to get through before the shipping dates slipped a few weeks. Needless to say, I was able to order this one on my third try roughly 10 minutes after it went on sale. Luckily for me, since preorders sold out within the hour. So, here are my first impressions after using the iPhone 5 for about 10 days now.

Design

The first thing I noticed was the weight. Yes, I know the numbers and I expected it to be light, but the extent of it still took me by surprise. I purchased a slate black phone and I think it’s as close to perfect as the design of a smartphone can get. I like how the aluminum metal band around the phone now matches the color of the phone rather than being silver-colored. I also like how the back glass panel is replaced with aluminum as well. I haven’t and won’t be testing the scratch resistance. I’ll note that mine arrived in flawless condition – no pre-existing scratching as has been reported.

Functionality / Dock Connector

Again, I was shocked by how small the dock connector turned out to be. I saw the pictures and such, but finally seeing it and holding it in person was a shocker. I feel like I should treat it like it’s very delicate, so we’ll see how durable it turns out to be. I personally love it, it’s easier to plug in than the old one and there’s no right or wrong way. I didn’t have any accessories that require an adapter, so I guess I’m lucky on that front. Well, I did, but I sold them with my old iPhone 4 so I could boost the price a little. The home button and on/off switch seem lighter and easier to click. I had problems on my iPhone 4 when I tried to click or double click the home button and it wouldn’t respond. It would drive me insane. It could have just been wear and tear from constant use, though. Another note is the speakers on the bottom of the phone, which are much, much louder than my old phone. They also have a new design that probably won’t allow dust to cake up inside them. Many times, I’d have to get something fine-tipped to dig out dust from the grilles. No longer will that be the case.

Display

The display is very nice. It’s the same retina display from the iPhone 4/4S, but it seems different. The whole in-cell display or whatever they used is very apparent. I also noticed that the default brightness is lower than my iPhone 4, yet just as bright or maybe even brighter. Perhaps that is what contributes to the battery life. The touch screen itself works as perfectly as every iPhone has in the past. That was what sold me on the original iPhone back in 2007 and I’m glad to see that it either improves or stays consistently good.

Battery

The battery is better. It’s tough to compare because my old phone had been through probably 1,000 charge cycles, so the battery was probably measurably worse than when it was brand new. By that comparison, the iPhone 5 outperforms it with about 20% better efficiency. All things being equal, it’s probably not too noticeable. Considering the addition of LTE and the spec bumps it got, the fact that they’re getting marginally better battery life out of a battery that’s about the same size is almost an engineering miracle.

Update: A few more days in, I’ve noticed that if my reception strength is less than 4 bars, the battery rapidly depletes, as in about the same as I saw with my iPhone 4.

LTE/WiFi/Call Quality

Call quality is better. People sound louder and crisper. This is my first LTE phone, so this is new for me. As far as cellular service, it’s worse than my iPhone 4. I’d say about 20% worse. Places where I had maybe 1-2 bars of service are now ‘No Service’ and places where I had 4-5 bars are now 1-3 bars. This only counts inside buildings. I have full service when I’m in the car or outside. So far, that’s been a downgrade. When LTE is working, though, it is absurdly fast. I’ve had download speeds as high as 45Mbps and Uploads as high as 16Mbps. That absolutely leaves my home wireless connection in the dust.  That being said, I’m having the issue looked at by Apple later to see if there’s a software issue that’s causing the poor reception.

Hardware

Coming from the iPhone 4, it’s substantially faster at everything. They said twice as fast, I say it’s about 10x as fast at some tasks as my old phone. Camera is open instantly and there’s no lag between pictures. I’m used to 5 seconds of lag between shots and up to 10 seconds to open the camera. Apps open almost instantly. For example, Tap Zoo would take 2-3 minutes on my iPhone 4. It now takes about 10 seconds. Jurassic Park Builder used to take about 30 seconds, it’s now instant. Safari renders pages instantly now with no lag. It’s very fast and can’t imagine things being much quicker. The camera is noticeably better than the old phone, obviously. I haven’t tried the panorama mode yet. Honestly, I probably never will. I’ve never had a real use for it yet and likely never will.

Apple Maps

Ah, Apple Maps – The big controversy from this launch. Honestly, this is another feature I don’t have a great deal of use for since my car has its own built-in navigation (And Lexus has a pretty solid navigation system – aside from finding POI). So far, in my limited use, I haven’t seen any map glitches in the St. Louis area, but I haven’t looked too hard, either. I did test the turn-by-turn with my car’s navigation and it did the identical routes that Lexus gave me. Like I said, Lexus has a very polished system that spoils me, so I’m accustomed to sub-screen zooming in on roads as I approach and audible warnings up to a half mile beforehand. Apple Maps isn’t quite that good. It finds the route and Siri will talk through my car’s audio system via Bluetooth, but that level of information that I’m used to isn’t there. I think it would be perfectly fine if I were a passenger and directing someone or maybe even be fine as a primary navigation for someone who doesn’t have a GPS unit. I think the Maps criticism is mainly outside of the US, but as for the occasional railroad track route, missing body of water, or glitch – what are you expecting? Sometimes Google was better than Lexus. Sometimes Garmin had a better route. They all have their shortcomings.

iOS 6

I’m mixed about iOS 6. One part of me has high expectations from Apple to revolutionize things. The other part realizes that iOS is a very solid OS and, at this point, there really isn’t much more you can do with a smartphone that isn’t already done. That being said, iOS 6 doesn’t blow me away. The weather app is updated with the hourly forecast built in using the extra screen real estate. YouTube is finally gone, thank God (There’s a superior app offered by Google in the App Store). iTunes and the App Store have both been redesigned in a good way. People aren’t happy with the new App Store since it seems to not be good for searching. I haven’t had that thought or trouble.

Passbook is there, but I don’t like it. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just not practical for me. Unless I’m forgetting something, that’s it as far as changes go. Hell, the best update for me is that I don’t have to enter my iTunes password to download free apps or updates anymore! It’s shocking that it took 5 years to address that.

Conclusion

It’s a great phone. It does everything I need it to do and it does it well. It has a nice screen and enlarged it while making the phone smaller. It’s really the perfect size for a phone. The OS is stable and solid and the phone feels like it’s a quality piece. I’m holding out hope that the service issues I’ve had are a local deal and not a permanent thing. Above all, the antenna should be the most important part of the phone. Plus, you can’t argue with the resale value. After the initial investment in an iPhone, the rest are essentially free. After two years, you can still flip them for what you paid on contract (Thus justifying the purchase of an Otterbox Defender to keep it perfect). You really can’t beat that. That being said, it is just another iPhone. There isn’t anything revolutionary here – and that’s fine because the smartphone has been more or less perfected at this point.

Apple is in a tough spot. On one hand, you have a group of people that moans about Apple being boring and far behind Samsung (Absurd). On the other hand, you have a group of people that are perfectly content with the phone. The problem is that Apple feels forced to include features to appease people and then when they aren’t 100% perfect or fixed in hours, there is worldwide outrage. They’re going to sue Apple for Maps not delivering. Really? Did you ever buy Windows Vista? Use Playstation Network for the first 3 years? Buy a game that looked great on previews and then sucked to play? Saw a movie that sucked? So, I could have sued for being underwhelmed by software? People need to either grow up or have some patience. Download Garmin for $40. There are other options here, but they’re too hysterical to worry about that. If you’re worried about nothing else integrating, why the hell would you buy Apple? Hasn’t that been the company signature since forever?

What is it that people want exactly? I couldn’t copy and paste for an entire YEAR after I got the original iPhone. You’re whining because Maps are glitchy 12 days into the OS launch? Turn by turn isn’t good enough and you want Google Maps back? Since when did Google Maps offer turn by turn on iOS? The App Store is outdated and boring, but this new, faster App Store sucks? Make up your minds. Apple has reached Microsoft’s problem. The customer base is too big. Too many people whine and complain and expect perfection. There are just too many people to please. Steve Jobs had it right when he said Apple told people what they wanted, people didn’t tell Apple. Now, it’s the opposite. And just like Microsoft, Apple will fall. When you start caving into the demands of the vocal minority, you will fail.