iPhone 5 Review: Is It Too Big For Its Boots?

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Loads of smartphone owners who are planning to upgrade in the near future are caught between the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3. We’ve already had a look at the S3 and crowned it the best smartphone this year (so far). So can the iPhone 5 take the crown. I’m personally due for an upgrade from my iPhone 4 and such a comparison interested me. So let’s see what’s new with the iPhone 5 and where it stands against the S3.

iPhone 5 review: how does it stand up to the current king?

The iPhone 5 is better than the 4 and the 4S in terms of screen size, web browsing and processor speed, but compared to the Samsung Galaxy S3, the iPhone isn’t standing out in those 3 respects. The iPhone 5 battery also doesn’t perform as well as the 4S, possibly because Apple put in an extra 10mAh that’s suppose to be enough for the larger screen and LTE. The Samsung Galaxy S3 on the other hand tops the battery life of the Galaxy S2 by three more hours. The S3 standby time has also been upped by three hours – almost twice the 225 hours you’ll get from the iPhone 5. So, the argument about rubbish Android batteries is a bit irrelevant in 2012 in this comparison.

That Lightning connector is a problem as well, as Apple fans will have to buy a $30 adapter to use their Apple accessories. It charges the iPhone 5 very quickly indeed, but this doesn’t really make up for the expense and inconvenience. The adapter won’t even fit every accessory, either – my old Sony landing dock won’t work with it, so I’ll have to buy a new one now.

The aluminium case on the iPhone 5 is drawing fire, too – as many users report that it scuffs pretty easily. The Samsung Galaxy S3 cheap plastic back has been derided, but scraped up metal doesn’t float many people’s boats either. The build quality is still high, but you’ll need to get a case if you put the device in your pocket with your keys often.

The iPhone 5 isn’t all bad news, though. It’s mega-light and the A6 chip is faster than the 1.5GHz dual-core chip in the ICS-run Samsung Galaxy S3, if you believe the benchmarks. Plus, even though the screen is bigger, you can still handle it in just one hand – and on the subject of ergonomics, the new earbuds are a dream!

Of course, the design is top-notch, as you’d expect from Apple. It’s got the industrial look we love, as well as a few nice new touches. It’s ergonomically flawless even though it’s taller.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 has 2GB of RAM, twice that of the iPhone 5, but when using several apps at once I couldn’t see any real difference in speed between the two. There was no difference when watching films or browsing either as there was no noticeable lag. There was no difference in LTE speeds or camera, either; in fact, the man on the street won’t be able to see any real difference at all between either device.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 has an SD card, which the iPhone 5 doesn’t. If you bought the cheapest 16GB S3 and bought a $50 64GB SD card, you’d have 80GB. The absolute most you’ll get from the iPhone 5 is 64GB, and this will cost big time. You also need to remember that App Store apps are getting bigger by the day thanks to hardware being able to run more graphic intensive apps and supporting higher resolutions, so 16GB isn’t going to be enough in the long-term.

You WILL need a cover for your iPhone 5 – we even found that our review model had some scratches when we took it out of the box! Mind you, a covered up iPhone 5 STILL looks better than the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Some say that Apple’s gone a bit retro with the changes – aluminium, a harsh vibration motor and dodgy battery. What Apple does have going for it is excellent customer service. Any hassles, get to the nearest store where your issue will be dealt with efficiently, quickly and above all, politely. Apple’s also fast with the updates and with sorting out bugs. There have been a few boo-boos with this device, but Apple will make them all good. There’s iOS 6.0.1 already available and it has reportedly fix a dozen or so bugs.

Overall though, we have to admit that the iPhone 5 does lack the magic of the first iPhone – even the magic of the iPhone 4 when it was released, but if you’re deep in Apple territory already, you’ll love this inline upgrade.

It may be that people expect too much of the company now, so when the slightest thing goes wrong it gets leaped on and crowed about. There’s also way more competition now than there was five years ago, and it’s hard to be revolutionary. The iPhone 5 design is a slight change from the iPhone 4 from 2 years back rather than a departure, and its biggest changes – the big screen and LTE, are catch-up measures when compared to other devices on the market.

If you have an iPhone 4 or a 4S, then go for the iPhone 5 for your next upgrade. Personally, I haven’t made up my mind with what to get after my iPhone 4. This isn’t because the iPhone 5 is rubbish, though, but because the Samsung Galaxy S3 is a real feat of engineering and innovation that has gotten me curious enough to take on the challenge of learning a new platform.

I’m running out of time to make a decision, though – stay with iOS or grapple with Android. Jelly Bean is coming to the Samsung Galaxy S3 very soon, and as Apple hasn’t how it’ll address maps, battery and scuffing more than a month on, Samsung remains the stronger option.

Cecelia has the patience of a praying mantis. She spends the day sifting through press releases from all the major brand’s PR reps. From the most ridiculous announcements to those you really want to know more about, Cecelia makes it a point to skim through as many daily as possible so you won’t have to.