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Apple iPhone 5 - The World’s Best Smartphone? (Part 2)

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We can’t emphasise enough how gorgeous the iPhone 5 is. The iPhone has always had the best of Jony lye’s time, and it’s clear that Apple wanted to make it look even better.

Description: The amazing thing about the iPhone 5 is that the device itself manages to feel smaller, while the screen is bigger.

The amazing thing about the iPhone 5 is that the device itself manages to feel smaller, while the screen is bigger.

The amazing thing about the iPhone 5 is that the device itself manages to feel smaller, while the screen is bigger. Partly this is down to the lighter weight, slimmer design and smaller bezel. Depth s down to a ridiculous 7.6mm, and it weighs 112g (compared to the 9.3mm and 140g of the 4S). Every single person we’ve got to hold the iPhone 5 has exclaimed at how light and thin it is.

It really is a slinky little thing, especially if you compare it to some of the ever increasingly brick-like Android and Windows phones coming out. The Samsung Galaxy S3 looks like a monster next to it.

In terms of design, it’s thematically very similar to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 45. The white iPhone looks similar to the white and silver iPhone 4S, but with an anodised aluminium backing; the black and slate model couldn’t be blacker if it tried: black screen, bezel, slate backing and black antenna on the sides, and shiny black logo and lettering on the back.

The 3.5mm earphone jack has moved to the bottom of the phone, as on the iPod touch. We prefer it at the top because when you put it in a pocket the volume controls are more accessible, but this is minor.

4g LTE in the UK

The presence of 4G LTE networking is a step forward, but one that very few can take advantage of n this country. New network EE, formed by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, is the only network with Ofcom approval but we don’t know when its network will launch to the public.

The camera

Apple has made improvements to the camera, and it shows. The 8-megapixel count remains the same, but the 45 topped out at ISO 800, which gives pretty poor images in low light; the iPhone 5 goes up to ISO 3200. Pictures in darkened environments are much better. The surface of the lens is made of sapphire crystal, so it’s significantly tougher than before.

The iPhone 5’s A6 processor also makes a big difference to the speed of taking photographs. Both the focus and the shutter work much faster in the iPhone 5.

Description: The surface of the lens is made of sapphire crystal, so it’s significantly tougher than before.

The surface of the lens is made of sapphire crystal, so it’s significantly tougher than before.

The front-facing FaceTime camera, meanwhile, has had a megapixel bump: it now snaps 1.2-megapixel images and records HD video, so you’ll look good in video chats.

Photos are captured in the regular iPhone format (the button sits at the side of the snap, rather than overlaying the photo), but video is captured in 16:9, which makes sense.

Audio and speaker test

One other enhancement is the iPhone 5’s speaker (there’s only one, even though there are grills on the left and right of the Lightning port). Music is important to Apple and it shows. The audio quality of the iPhone 5, given the small stature of the device, is great.

The new EarPods, too, are manifestly better than the iPod earphones they replace. The new look is designed to fit in the ear more comfortably - which they do - and also provide improved audio quality. They especially have more bass than the models they replace.

Description: The audio quality of the iPhone 5, given the small stature of the device, is great.

The audio quality of the iPhone 5, given the small stature of the device, is great.

Lightning vs 30-PIN

The Lightning connector is smaller and thinner, and you can slot it in either side up. It’s still USB 2.0 and not the faster USB 3.0, though, so there’s no major gain for the customer, other than the space saving that helps the iPhone 5 to be so skinny. But the down side is that those dozens of old cables and accessories won’t work without an adaptor.

Verdict

The iPhone remains comfortably the best smartphone on the market, thanks to Apple’s slavish devotion to design (it’s a really nice piece of kit to hold) combined with a superb ecosystem of apps, music and video content and iCloud services. With Lightning and the troubled iOS 6 Maps update (see page 27), it feels like there’s a bit of a cloud sitting over the iPhone 5 — which is a shame, because it’s a really good product. Overall, the iPhone 5 is marginally better in just about every area than the 45, so it’s a solid, if not radical, step forward.

Price depends on mobile contract.

SIM-free:

US$793.5 (16GB), US$898.5 (32GB),

US$1048.5 (64GB)

Apple • apple.com/uk/phone

Likes:

·         Achingly beautiful design

·         Thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S

·         Super-fast processor

·         Better low-light photography

·         Stronger headphone audio

·         Taller screen allows for a few extra lines of text in portrait mode, and one more row of icons

·         4G compatibility

Dislikes:

·         New lightning connector means all your old cables and wired accessories will need an adaptor

·         Requires new nano-SIM

·         Will take app developers some time to take advantage of extra screen space, and there will be black bars at the edge until they do

·         4G compatibility is limited in the UK for the time being

 

 

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