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iPhone 5 Review: It’s Just Passable

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Apple have managed to come up with a handset that will have hordes of people queuing up outside the Apple store to purchase it thanks to the many advancements in technology and the features that are packed into it.

iPhone 5 review: first hand look

The iPhone 5 hits stores next weekin the US, UK, Japan, Germany, France and another four countries and then another wave of releases will take place on 28th September in more than 22 countries. The 16GB iPhone 5 will sell for $199 when you take out a contract over two years.

During its unveiling at the Yerba Center earlier this week, we managed to get a little hands on time with the device. While it was brief given the hordes of other reporters queuing up for their turn, there were a couple of things I took away from the few minutes I had. There is little doubt that people are going to fall in love with the iPhone all over again as the device is very light to hold and it feels great in the hand. Thanks to the larger 4-inch Retina display the iPhone 5 is also pleasing to the eye. Videos and photos look more realistic on the superb screen and Apple has done wonders with the half inch they gained.

One of the better features of the new iPhone 5 is the Panorama mode which will puts together pictures into a vista that is majestic. This can be chosen from the options menu when in camera mode. Arrows guide you as you pan the camera around slowly and when completed you get your picture in seconds. Videos are also a pleasure to watch thanks to the real estate the 4 inches provides and the news aspect ratio.

Thanks to the new chip installed in the iPhone 5 the device is faster than the previous model and the wireless tech has been upgraded which means web surfing is accelerated. It certainly felt faster but I couldn’t perform loading tests so my mind could have been playing tricks (the 4S is a speed demon already after all).

Another bonus is the sound of the handset when using the newly designed headphones, which Apple have named “EarPods.” The pods stay in the ear and are as good as earphones costing $100. However to be honest, they didn’t feel as good as my $100 Sony in-earbuds.

iOS 6 is another leap forward and it is now easier than ever to share photos. All you have to do is choose a photo and then email it without the need for attachments. This feature depends on the recipient having iOS 6 of course. The good thing about this feature is that the photo can be sent to any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running iOS 6.

iOS 6 means that you do lose some apps, including Google Maps and YouTube. Apple decided to use their own map app and it looks good with 3D renderings and turn by turn directions courtesy of Siri. Passbook is another feature of iOS6 which stores your digital coupons and other information such as airline tickets.

Siri has also received an update and is said to be smarter. However it still has some issues which will no doubt make it feel gimmicky in the iPhone 5 as well. To know what I mean, just tell it that you want to buy an iPhone 5 and check out the results for “Apple Stores” that it brings up.

Overall, the iPhone 5 is a decent step up from the iPhone 4S. It brings a (slightly) larger display and LTE speeds while keeping battery life in check. However it isn’t exactly revolutionary as these features have been on other smartphones for a while now and the design of the iPhone 5 is still very similar to the 2010 iPhone 4.

Maybe I am expecting too much from Apple given that I still remember attending the unveiling of the first iPhone, as well as when the iPhone 4 launched. It is difficult to recreate that “magic” again, especially as competition has grown stiffer since then and Apple is no longer on the bleeding edge of innovation. The iPhone 5 will still sell in droves and likely shatter 4S sales figures, however this isn’t enough for me to consider breaking the contract on my 4S just yet.

Mike is the man who reviews gadgets that aren’t mainstream or products that can’t exactly be classified as consumer electronics e.g. portable talking toilets. It’s always interesting to read about the crazy products we have here in Asia that just don’t get as much publicity as they warrant.