iPhone 5 Review: Higher They Are, The Bigger The Fall

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Many people who had the iPhone 4, me included, were left pondering on whether to upgrade to the iPhone 5 when it came out, or go for something different like the very popular Samsung Galaxy S3.

iPhone 5 review

If you look at the iPhone 5 side by side with the iPhone 4 or 4S you will see that in terms in speed of the processor, web browsing and screen size, the iPhone 5 is on top. On the other hand if you compare the iPhone 5 against the Samsung Galaxy S3, then the above qualities of the iPhone 5 don’t stand out as strong. In real world tests, despite being upgraded the iPhone 5 has battery life below that of the iPhone 4S of 8 hours. This is likely because of its larger display and LTE speeds but only 10mAh more capacity in the battery. The S3 comes with better battery life when compared to its predecessor, the S2, and now provides an extra 3 hours, bringing the total use to 15 hours. Standby has also been improved by three hours and now gives 400 hours, in comparison to the 225 you get with the iPhone 5. This throws the tired old argument of Android phones having poor battery life over the iPhone 5 out the window.

Another downside is that Apple decided to do away with using glass on the back of the new iPhone 5 and replace it with what has turned out to be an easily scuffed back panel. While I disliked the Samsung Galaxy S3 plastic fantastic body, having little nicks on the back of my black iPhone 5 doesn’t speak much about build quality. Something else that I always loved about the iPhone.

Another change by Apple is the connector. This has been changed to the Lightning connector and if you want to be able continue using old accessories then you will have to pay out $30 for an adapter from Apple. The good thing about the Lightning port, as it name suggests, is that it charges the iPhone 5 faster. Consumers may want to be wary of using the connector as they could find issues with older accessories. For example when using the adapter with my Sony sound dock, the shape of the landing pad means that I couldn’t use it with the new iPhone 5 with the adapter anyways. This could mean that some accessories will be obsolete and you will have to start collecting them again. So if you had to buy your sound dock, extra chargers, car kits and other accessories all over again, you could just as easily switch platforms. That was my sudden clarity anyways.

However despite the bad points the iPhone 5 is not disappointing. It is lighter than the Samsung Galaxy S3 and it comes with an A6 processor that beat the 1.5GHz dual core of the S3 in benchmark tests with the S3 running Ice Cream Sandwich. The display is now 4 inches and despite the extra size, you canstill use the iPhone 5 with one hand, which makes up for the fact that personally I would have liked to have seen an even larger display on the new iPhone. The earbuds that come with the iPhone 5 have also been improved vastly and it is worth bringing that up as previous headsets were horrid.

Design of the iPhone 5 is superb as it comes with the industrial look that we loved about the iPhone since the iPhone 5, and there are some new touches that bring it up to date. Even with the device being taller it is ergonomically perfect.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with 2GB of RAM while the iPhone 5 has 1GB, however I couldn’t see a difference when opening multiple apps, browsing the web and watching videos. This was also the same when using the camera and testing the LTE speeds on both of the handsets. To the average consumer, you would be hardpressed to tell the difference, if any.

On the downside The Samsung Galaxy S3 has support for SD card and the iPhone 5 does not. This means that you could get the cheapest 16GB Galaxy S3 and buy a 64GB SD card for around $50 and have a device with a total of 80GB of storage. As for the iPhone 5, the best you can do is 64GB and that will cost you a whopper. Furthermore with a recent survey showing that apps in the App Store have started to bulk up since the iPhone 5 arrived, you may soon find the 16GB iPhone 5 a little to constricting.

In addition to storage, you might want to pay out for a cover for the iPhone 5 as it is prone to scratching, indeed the review unit we had was scuffed when it arrived (not our fault, just want to put that on record). However, even if you have to cover up the iPhone 5, it still looks better than the glossy S3 personally.

Some might say that Apple have gone back in time with the iPhone 5 when it comes to some changes like the aluminum, removal of Google Maps, harsher vibration motor and the flailing battery life. However there is one thing in Apple’s favour and that is the fact that they have customer service that is superb. If you do have any problems, these are generally rectified very quickly and with the minimum of fuss just by taking it back to your closest Apple Store. Apple is also excellent when it comes to giving out updates to software and rectifying bugs if they are noticed wide scale. So while things may look bleak, you can depend on Apple to do their best to fix as much as possible.

The iPhone 5 may be lacking some of the magical touch that came with the release of the first iPhone. It may not even compare with the sparks given when you upgraded from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4. But there is no getting away from the fact that if you are an Apple iPhone fan, the iPhone 5 is the ideal device.

The lack of magic could come down to the fact that today people expect too much from Apple given the icon the iPhone brand has become. Hence every misstep looks much more exaggerated than it may be. They also have many competitors now, including Samsung, who have all caught up with Apple in regards to offering innovative products. Times have changed since Apple released their first iPhone in 2007, when it was called revolutionary. The iPhone 5 is nothing revolutionary when you consider what’s already on the market in regards to tech. The design of the iPhone 5 is much the same as that of the iPhone 4 from two years back, and the biggest upgrades (LTE and the bigger screen) have become a norm since last year.

The bottom line is that if you have the iPhone 4 and you are coming to the end of a contract, the iPhone 5 is a great device and you may want to go for it. However it has to be said that as an owner of the iPhone for the last five years, today has been the closest I have come to leaving Apple and iOS behind for Android. Of course this might not be due to Apple having faltered; it could be due to the fact that Samsung came up with a real winner with the Samsung Galaxy S3 in 2012.

I have until November to decide whether the Samsung Galaxy S3 is tempting enough to draw me in to learning how to use Android OS, or whether to go ahead and remain loyal to Apple and upgrade to the iPhone 5. With the Jelly Bean update rumored to be coming to the S3 next month and no word on when Apple will have alleviated the maps, battery and scuffing complaints, the S3 is slightly ahead.

Always looking for something new to learn, Mario looks at the internet as one big startup. With him at the helm, continues to head in the right direction of providing high quality and unbiased information on the latest new car models and electronics.