I upgraded to the iPhone 5 when it was launched here in Ireland a couple of weeks ago. I was switching from an iPhone 4 so this was 2 generations up for me…
Where did i get it?
I’d pre-ordered the iPhone 5 through the carphone warehouse… a flawless experience from ordering to collection on the day. It meant i could waltz in to a shop at noon and pick up what other people were willing to queue for hours for. When i walked in to the shop, the very first thing I heard / seen was a lady being told they’ve no iPhone 5′s in stock and won’t be sure when they’ll get them back in. They didn’t have any iPhone 5′s in stock of course… not at mid-day, unless of course you’d pre-ordered one
When i got the device in my hands the first thing i noticed was the new display. Yeah sure it’s longer but the colours are much sharper. That was a visible improvement. On paper it’s also lighter than the iPhone 4S and much has been made of this but honestly, i struggled to notice a significant difference. There is a noticeable difference but only after you go looking for it and compare the weight of both in your hands multiple times. It does however feel more compact than the iPhone 4S… i certainly noticed the difference in thickness between the iPhone 5 and it’s predecessor. Not a massive difference but enough for me to pick up on instantly.
As i was in the middle of handling it, two other people in the store wanted to see it… i suppose that sums the iPhone 5 up. It’s predecessors have done the hard work, all it has to do is show up and it sells… When you’ve an elderly lady inquiring about a new smartphone on the day it launches, you know you’ve got a special brand.
There’s a few things i like about the iPhone 5, a few things i don’t like and a few things i’m indifferent to… the best bit for me is the speed. Touch something and it opens instantly. Swipe in any direction and it moves naturally. On my old iPhone 4, swiping was becoming slow and stuttery… i’d scroll down the facebook app with my fingers and half a second later the device might follow my lead. It was the same in the camera app. Taking photos just didn’t seem fast enough. This reason and this reason alone is enough to justify an upgrade. Speed is as important in technology as it’s ever been. I’d comment on 4G / LTE but most of the time i’m lucky if i can pick up a 3G signal here in Ireland. We don’t have 4G anywhere yet.
Another nice thing about the iPhone 5 (although 4S also has it) is the new ‘panorama’ feature in the camera app. I’ve always loved panorama photos and have often spent quite some time in photoshop perfecting them. Over 5 years ago, i published this post called “how to create panoramic images“. 5 years ago, i never could have dreamt my phone would be capable of capturing & creating panoramic images on the fly to a high standard but that’s exactly what you can do today.
The new bundled ‘earpods’ are also an improvement. They fit a bit better but they also sound better. More bass is always welcome.
The final thing i like about the iPhone 5 is the new ‘lightning connector’. It’s got a reversible connection which quite simply saves time and hassle. All connections should be like this…
Maps. Apple, what have you done? I’m paraphrasing now but Tim Cook basically admitted Apple Maps was a mistake last week which was a really strange statement for an Apple CEO to make. On the one hand, i’m glad he acknowledges Apple Maps is a step backwards… on the other it doesn’t really help solve the problem. Ideally, Apple would revert to Google Maps instantly or at least give us the option to do so. The world would be a better place. I’d still like to understand why it was approved, who approved it and how somebody thought it was a good idea to replace Google Maps when it appears they could have let the contract with Google run for another year… Anyway, that’s not really a problem with the iPhone 5, more with iOS6.
The longer screen size is something everyone expected and i can see the thinking behind it. It makes sense given the fact the vast majority of apps have vertical scrolling and that’s how we tend to look at websites in a browser too. More screen real estate means less scrolling and more content to absorb.
On the flip side, i can see why for so long Apple haven’t changed the tried and tested dimensions. At times, i do feel my thumb and fingers are strained a little and holding the phone in one hand whilst scrolling and navigating is a little awkward. I still find myself adjusting my hand trying to find a sweet spot but never quite managing it. In my opinion, the iPhone 5 is not comfortable to use in one hand, like it’s designers claim. ‘Tolerable is the best word to describe it. I’m still undecided whether i like it or not… i just can’t figure out whether the extra bit of screen real estate is worth sacrificing the comfortable fit of the older iPhones. This was the main reason why i held off doing a review for a couple of weeks – to see if my opinion would change… but it hasn’t.
Siri was also new to me. I now have Siri on my iPad and iPhone 5. The *only* use i’ve found for Siri so far is to tell it to ‘Activate all my alarms ‘ or ‘Deactivate all my alarms’. It then switches them all on or off. I set about 10 alarms every morning so that saves me a lot of time manually flicking them on and off. Other than that, i’m not a Siri fan nor have i been from the start. The whole concept of voice recognition and processing requests is cool, but it still feels like we’re about 20 years away from being able to rely on it and have it improve our lives… i feel the stuff we have today is almost cringe worthy… much like you’d cringe looking back on an old phone that had WAP on it or cringe looking at clothes people wore 20 years ago. It has that “what were those idiots thinking of” feel to it.
The reality is the iPhone 5 is indeed the best iPhone there has ever been. I either like certain aspects of it or don’t really care about certain aspects of it… there’s nothing bad about it.
I’ve seen several people drool over the iPhone 5′s design and appearance but honestly my opinion on it hasn’t changed now that it’s been in my hands for over a week. To me, it’s a slightly improved version of my old iPhone 4. The only major worthwhile improvement for me is the difference in speed. I’d pay for that. I wouldn’t pay for a lighter, thinner device with a slightly better screen and camera. The iPhone 4 was a work of art and the iPhone 5 is a slightly improved work of art.
It’s definitely worth upgrading from the 4 simply because it seems infinitely faster. I haven’t played with the 4S long enough to get a feel for its responsiveness but i’d imagine it’s probably fast enough to warrant *not* upgrading to the iPhone 5. If you can get the iPhone 5 for free or for cheap (either on bill pay upgrade or by selling your old iPhone) then sure.. why not upgrade… it’s not going to cost you much (if anything)… but if you’re shelling out hundreds of €€€ for the iPhone 5 to replace your iPhone 4S, don’t bother would be my advice. Wait for the 5S next year or wait to see what Samsung might come up with in the meantime…
One big positive about iPhones though is their resale value… i could have traded in my iPhone 4 for for €180 on the spot and judging by sales on ebay / adverts.ie or donedeal.ie, i’d be able to get closer to €300 for it. It seems insane to me that someone would pay €300 for an iPhone 4 or a phone that is 2 years old, but that’s what’s happening.
Here’s my recommendation: If you’re a first time iPhone buyer, buy the 4S and you’ll get a better deal. If you’re an iPhone 4 (or below) owner with an upgrade and hefty discount available, upgrade. If you’re an iPhone 4S user with no upgrade, stay put.