Manufacturer: Apple, inc
Price: From £529
Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G, EDGE, GSM
Display: 1,136×640 at 326ppi, 4-inches diagonal
Camera: 8MP iSight
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.8+
Includes: EarPods with remote and mic
There are a lot of reasons why this is the best iPhone ever made – see Issue 253′s feature for all the details. But here we’ll focus more on what it’s like to use. Firstly, the new screen is fantastic. At four inches on the diagonal it’s significantly taller than any previous iPhone. And the new 16:9 ratio not only makes it perfect for viewing HD movies, but it marks the first major design shift for Apple from the original iPhone. High-definition movies and photos get added punch thanks to the new size and improved colour saturation.
Changing screen sizes doesn’t come without its problems though. Your apps for example, are all created for a different resolution. Apple gets around this by centring the app and putting black bars down either side. It’s a fairly neat solution, and a good stopgap until developers redesign their apps to fit the new screen. All the Apple apps have already been upgraded, and they make use of the extra space by offering more options.
It really is worth emphasising how thin the new iPhone feels compared to previous models. At 7.6mm its thinness is not just aesthetically pleasing; it’s functional too, as it means you can still use the iPhone one-handed, operating the touchscreen with your thumb.
There are other good design decisions too: gone is the slippery glass back of the iPhone 4S, replaced by aluminium, instantly curtailing the million-dollar industry in replacing dropped iPhone screens. The headphone port is now at the bottom, next to the new Lightning dock connector, which (brilliantly) works no matter which way up you put the cable in. The downside is that you need to buy a £25 adaptor to use your old 30-pin dock-connected accessories.
The iPhone gets a supermodel makeover, being taller and skinnier.
The camera has been improved too, but not so significantly that we really noticed, except in low-light conditions, where more detail is preserved in pictures taken on the iPhone 5 compared to a 4S. When shooting movies you can now also take a still shot at the same time.
Battery life has been extended – up to eight hours of talk time on 3G, and 10 hours of video playback. However, it’s not significantly more than a 4S, and we still needed to charge our iPhone every single day under normal usage conditions. Most importantly, for the long-term life of this phone, it’s got LTE wireless technology, so it can connect to (some) 4G networks. We couldn’t test this yet, but we’ll follow up once more cities have 4G enabled.
Benchmarking with Geekbench 2 revealed that the new A6 chip lived up to Apple’s claims of being twice as fast as the previous A5, and we look forward to seeing some new games that will really test it. Undoubtedly this sixth iteration of the iPhone is the best yet. Apple has clearly learned a lot of lessons from previous iPhones and everything about the 5 just feels right. But provided you can escape the lure of having to own the latest iPhone, we’d say wait for your contract to expire before you upgrade. A lot of the headline features, such as Panorama and Maps, are part of iOS 6, and will work perfectly well on an iPhone 4S, where iOS 6 is a free install.
Not revolutionary, but the best iPhone we’ve ever used. Apple really has thought of everything.