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Apple iPhone 5: My Personal In-Depth Review

As a long time technology enthusiast, I feel it’s my duty to pontificate, speculate, and bloviate about every major device that’s released upon the world. As such, here is my review of Apple’s iPhone 5 that was released today. I have not tested the device nor seen the device, but with years of experience in the industry, hopefully I can provide some valuable insight. So, go forth!

iPhone 5 Physical Specs

The iPhone 5 is claimed to be 18 percent thinner. This puts it at 0.29 inches (7.6 millimeters) thick. It’s also 20% lighter at 3.95 ounces or 112 grams.

Verdict: Who Cares!?
If you were having problems with the previous iPhones because they were too bulky or too heavy, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve got bigger problems. Stop wearing skinny jeans and hit the gym instead of buying a new phone.

Data and Cellular Connectivity

The iPhone 5 uses LTE connectivity, so Apple claims it will be much faster that the current iPhone 4S. It also has dual-channel 5GHz Wi-Fi (aka 802.11N). That means a 150Mbps maximum connectivity speed.

Verdict: Good.
The LTE connectivity is a step in the right direction. But – as is always the case – your cellular provider will still control what kind of bandwidth you’ll actually get. Don’t be surprised if you don’t notice faster Wi-Fi either with the jump to 802.11N. However, you should notice a huge boost in Wi-Fi range (if you happen to have an N capable Wi-Fi router). The range of the Wi-Fi would be the biggest thing for me, personally.

Display / Touch Screen

The iPhone 5 has a new 16:9 4-inch panoramic display that Apple claims has 44 percent more saturation than the iPhone. It also has its touchscreen sensor built-in to the screen.

Verdict: Meh.
Blah blah blah. This sounds much like the so-called “retina” display Apple’s been rolling out with much of it’s product line this year. It’s more marketing mumbo jumbo to impress certain consumers, and the rabid Apple Fan Boys who like to point to stats. In reality I’m willing to wager that, like the Retina Display, 95% of consumers would not be able to tell the difference.


Apple has updated the brains of the device to an A6 processor, which they claim is 2 times faster for both CPU and graphics processing.

Verdict: Intriguing.
While iPhone 4S users probably won’t notice the difference very often, it is always a necessary upgrade. While most native iPhone apps probably don’t suffer too much from a lack of resources, today’s highly visual web surfing experiences probably will. With the advent of HTML5 video, and more and more websites using more and more Javascript, going heavy on the processor will make the device more resilient into the future.


Apple claims the iPhone 5 will have 8 hours of 3G talk time, 8 hours of LTE browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 30 hours of video and 225 hours of standby.

Verdict: Reeeaaaalllyy?
Phone manufacturers are well known for boasting battery lives that never come true in the real world, and I don’t expect that to be any different in Apple’s case. If you get 75% of what they claim you can expect, consider yourself lucky.


Apple has upgrade both the microphone and the speakers on the iPhone in this iteration. They’ve added a 3rd microphone to the device, so you can now yell at the front, back, or bottom of the new iPhones. This is sure to make Siri very happy. Also included in the microphone upgrade is in-built noise cancelling. The speakers have also been improved using 5 magnet transducers compared to the previous 3.

Verdict: Good job!
Both of these improvements should make the iPhone much more usable as a speaker phone, which was barely functional previously. The noise cancelling microphones should make the audio in any video recordings much better also. The speakers on previous iPhones were just plain flat out garbage, so any improvement in sound output is welcome. However, I’ll remain sceptical of it’s quality until I’m proven wrong.

New Connector

Apple has included a new connector with the iPhone 5, being dubbed “Lightning”. There’s really only one “feature” included here. The new connector is now reversible, meaning you won’t have to struggle to figure out which way the plug is supposed to go when you’re trying to charge your phone in the dark. Surprisingly, Apple has also made an adapter for older accessories so you don’t have to throw all those old docks and charging cables out (yet).

Verdict: Booooooooo!!!
Why Apple would have redesigned the connector just to use another proprietary plug is beyond me. Even my cat and grandmother know that mini-USB is the standard that every manufacturer should be using. The only reason I can think of that Apple didn’t move to mini-USB 3.0 connector is that they’re making lots of money selling over-priced accessories to it’s customers. Not to mention 3rd party accessory manufacturers who are surely forced to pay Apple licensing fees for using it’s crappy proprietary plug. This comes off as making a change for the sake of making a change, which is to say, for no reason whatsoever.


If you’re an iPhone 4 user who is thinking about upgrading, I wouldn’t bother. You’re simply not likely to notice much of a difference, if any, and it comes with a pretty hefty price-tag. If you’re using the iPhone 3, iPhone 3G, or iPhone 3GS however, now is probably a good time to upgrade. The older models have gotten remarkably slow over the years, so you’d probably be quite impressed with the faster processor and faster/longer Wi-Fi, and the screen is probably about as high-quality in a phone of it’s size as anybody could ever want. If you’ve never owned an iPhone but have been thinking about it, now is as good a time as any (but don’t forget to checkout some of the competition first!)

Overall it seems like it will be a perfectly good Smart Phone. I’m also happy that there wasn’t the incredibly hype-machine leading up to it’s release as has happened so many times before. If the hype had been as overblown this year as it was last year, I’m pretty sure most people would have been quite underwhelmed. While I don’t seem to understand Apple’s release cycles in regards to the iPhone any more, I think this would have been better dubbed the iPhone 4S2 or something like that. The major version #’s (ie iPhone 3, iPhone 4, iPhone 5) should be reserved for when Apple makes big changes to the device. This release doesn’t have anything like that, it’s more of an across the board upgrade of it’s components.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

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