It’s not like Apple has reinvented the wheel completely with the new iPhone. The sophistication and elegance that embodies the device is every bit as evident as the previous additions. But the overall finesse has definitely been taken up a notch or two with the slightly new design. Here’s a closer look at the overall handling of the handset and our take on the all-new Apple iPhone 5.
Even if it was one of the most anticipated devices of the year, the expectation of a drastically different iPhone hasn’t really been met—to an extent. While the iPhone 5 is certainly slimmer (7.6mm) than the previous versions and longer, with a larger display at 4 inches (still Retina intact at a 640 x 1136 pixel resolution at 326 ppi and 800:1 contrast ratio), the overall design looks very similar to the 4 or 4S. The display also features a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating that serves its purpose to an extent. Smudges will still need to be dealt with the old fashioned way – a quick wipe on your sleeve or shirt. The elongated shape does, however, make for better handling and the ultra lightweight (112g) handset makes portability much better. But it feels a bit like it isn’t all there. The aluminium and glass casing, although looking quite premium, lacks a certain mechanical weight we’ve come to expect from feature rich high-end handsets. All that being said, just like those that came before it, one will still have that feel-good-factor that comes with owning an Apple device, even if they can’t afford it.
Intricately crafted buttons
The buttons beside the little switch-to-silent option as well as the power key are still by far the best example of premium furnishings for a handset. There’s zero play with the fixtures and even though the handset feels quite delicate, it has a pretty solid structure. But if anyone says that the rear panel is scratch resistant, they’re lying. After a few trysts with keys and coins in my pockets, the handset emerged with a few bruises. The new Lightning connector fits snugly into the socket and stays put quite firmly. This new standard Apple has decided to unleash upon us will be the cause for some concern till these adapters become a little more affordable. But would it kill the multi-billion dollar company if it includes a small adapter with the box? I think not!
Warning! Not scratch Resistant!
Shrinking down to the nano SIM wasn’t really a problem, but we’d nevertheless suggest getting a professional to do it for you. A set of adapters are available with most mobile phone vendors for about Rs. 200 that allow you to switch between different-sized cards. Looking at it from a consumer’s perspective, the iPhone has always been a device that stood out in the crowd simply because of the design and ridiculously simple-to-use UI. The fundamental design is still retained but tweaked to be slimmer, lighter and slightly longer. It’s still a great looking device, but it is not, we repeat, it is not completely resistant to scratches. So much for the design. Moving on...
Features and performance
The latest iPhone iteration ships with the latest iOS version, i.e. version 6.0. iOS 6 has brought some much needed features to the iPhone/iPad/iPod line-up, but this pretty much covers all Apple devices and is not unique to this specific model. Features like FaceTime over 3G, a Do Not Disturb option that can be handy when you need a little private space, photostream, heavier Facebook integration and, of course, the infamous iOS Maps. Most of the people we showed the device to were eager to know just how different the iPhone 5 is to their existing devices, and not in terms of what they can see, i.e. design. The simplest explanation is that the new A6 CHIP from Apple is of the dual core variety in the 1.2GHz range, while the 4S was only 1GHz in Apple’s A5 series. This would make functionality much smoother, faster and graphics (triple core graphics) would really pop! However, 3 out of 5 people didn’t really seem to take much notice of the speed boost. Hardcore techies, reviewers and those with a keen eye for detail managed to see the difference when the two devices were held side by side and used. Most average mobile users we showed it to, simply said both are quite fast.
What the A6 chip does, however, is circulate the usage better than some of the previous chips and those from some competitors. Apple has custom designed the chip to work well with iOS6 to be more power efficient and boost the device's battery life to a large extent. Naturally, we had to test it, so read on to find out how the battery tests went.
Slicker, sleeker, slimmer, lighter
The truth of the matter is, with an OS that now transcends through pretty much all of Apple’s current mobile devices, speed is the one thing that was never an issue. The iPhone 5 simply makes a great OS that was already pretty darn fast to begin with—a little faster. Features are constantly being updated with new versions and updates, and again, this is released to everyone. It’s not unique to this device but serves it very well nonetheless.
Apple’s media prowess in the iPhones and iPod touches have been surpassed by the likes of Beats Audio and Dolby Mobile Surround found in Android and some other OSes and devices. The iPhone 5 did not impress us too much in the media department. Although the new layout of the Music Player app is very engaging, the audio quality even with EQ tweaks was quite average at best. Apple did not see it fit to send us the new EarPods, so we’re afraid we can’t say much about them at this point. With earphones ranging from Harman Kardon to Sennheiser and those in a lower range like Creative or Panasonic, audio quality proved to be decent. Higher tones were a bit on the sharper side and lower tones could have been a little stronger.
Audio quality could certainly be improved
Thanks to ardent Apple developers we’re now seeing quite a few multi-format supported video players on the app store in the “Free Zone”. This allows you to drag and drop video files of any and all sizes and resolutions and formats onto your iDevice. Of course, you will still need to use iTunes as the medium. Thanks to the iPhone 5’s brilliant graphics processor, speedy A6 chip and fantastic and vibrant Retina display, HD videos in either 1080p or 720p look superb. If you’re upgrading from the iPhone 4 or 4S and have already purchased AV Out (HDMI supported) adapters, you’ll have to buy a converter to use them with the new Lightning connector. Or, you could just get an app that’s designed for DLNA.
Just like the last two iPhones, the iPhone 5 is also readily equipped to service your connectivity needs, with a few extras. With the addition of LTE support, the iPhone 5 can support 4G speeds if and when you can find it. And naturally, you can still easily fall back on the good old 3G and EDGE when required. Wi-Fi with the ability to create a personal hotspot is also on board along with Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP support. Apple is still restricting Bluetooth file transfer; however, iOS6 does include Bluetooth sharing to a small extent via the Privacy option in the Settings menu. It’s designed to work with a few third party apps for a variety of purposes like multiplayer games and transferring certain details between compatible apps. Thanks to this persistent closed-off way of thinking, features like Wi-Fi file transfer will also probably be kept at bay for a while longer. For some reason, Apple has also chosen to leave out NFC from the iPhone 5’s make up.
iOS Maps, still not at par with Google's offering
GPS with GLONASS and A-GPS to assist could also have been a real asset had Apple’s Maps been more functional. 3D maps for India and Turn by Turn Navigation are yet to arrive as well.
A few extras thrown in for good measure
Built-in apps like FaceTime (with HD support now), a voice recorder, Find my iPhone, News Stand and all new Passbook app are thrown in. The Passbook app is a location and time-based app that provides quick access to details like boarding passes for journeys, gift cards etc. Siri is still as talkative as usual and with her recent update via iOS6, she’s able to provide much more information than a simple to the point answer