whats with this white iphone take over?
While iPhones have changed dramatically since the first one was launched 4 years ago, one thing that hasn't changed is the size. They've all sported 3.5” displays. While, I think 3.5” works well on an iPhone, it’s hard to ignore the giant screens found on it’s competitors.
As such, the new iPhone 5 sports a 4” display. The biggest ever found on an iPhone though still much smaller than pretty much all it’s competitors. But as they say ‘size doesn't matter’.
While the new screen is the same width as every other iPhone, it’s taller. What this means is typing in portrait mode feels exactly the same as it does on my other iPhones. The screen’s aspect ratio is now 16:9 which means you can view videos captured from the camera without having horizontal bars on the top and bottom of the screen. 16:9 is also a more game friendly ratio.
Keeping the same width also means most users can easily reach across the screen with their thumb. It’s a good way to enlarge the screen without taking away the iPhone’s familiar user experience.
Screen resolution has changed from 960x640 to 1136x640. Pixel density is unchanged so it’s still a ‘retina’, in that increasing the pixel density won’t make the screen appear any sharper when you hold it at a normal viewing distance.
The new screen has more or less the same brightness as the one found on the 4s. I do notice that the screen appears to be slightly more saturated plus the colour temperature noticeably warmer without looking ‘dirty’. You can actually see the difference if you compare icons in the picture of the 5 and 4s above.
When it comes to the bright outdoors, the 5’s display is adequate when used in direct sunlight.
Maximum black levels are identical to the 4s’. Here’s a tip, if you find black levels are too gray for you, get the white iPhone 5. On my black 4s, I always noticed the black levels more because my bezel was darker than the screen.
Overall, the screen is an evolution of the one you find in the 4s. It’s a good screen but the one on the HTC One X is better.
The home button feels different than the 4s’. The 5’s has a much more satisfying feel when you press it. That said, it’s a bit louder so it might bother your significant other if they’re a light sleeper.
One area where the iPhone does well is in the materials department. From iPhone 4 onward, iPhones have been very tactile. From the all glass back to the metal sides there aren't many sub $1000 phones that feel like an iPhone save for maybe the Blackberry Bold 9900 and to a lesser extent the HTC One S/One V.
The iPhone 5 ups the ante in the material department. While there’s still a bit of glass on the back most of it is now brushed aluminum on the white one and anodized aluminum on the black. The sides are still metal but the corners have a new finish which makes the metal edges feel more interesting. The speaker and microphone grills are now drilled holes (like on some Nokia and HTC phones) instead of just a hole that’s covered in mesh.
That said, out of the box, my iPhone 5 had some minor blemishes. There’s a very small scratch next the letter on the back plus the Apple logo has minor flaws in it. Maybe Apple is drop testing iPhones before sending them out - it’s a new manufacturing technique ‘iDrop’.
Another thing, while metal is cool, I think the back of the 5 looks worse than the 4s. When I opened my white, I felt some regret because the back looks ugly. Then I saw my friend’s black 5’s which also look strange so I guess I’ll just have to not look at the back too much.
Anyway’s flaws aside, most other phones feel a little plastic fantastic next to the iPhone.
mute switch, volume buttons
SIM card tray
speaker, microphone, accessory connector, headphone jack.
The headphone jack has been relocated to the bottom. While the iPhone 5 still has a proprietary jack, it’s a new connector called Lightning (Apple figures you’ll pay more for a cable if it’s call Lightning).
While part of me is disappointed that Apple didn’t just use a micro USB like everyone else, the new connector is pretty nice. It’s slightly smaller than microUSB and more importantly, it can be inserted either way. One big downside is that there’s a chip inside which makes it harder for third parties to make compatible cables.
Another new feature which really annoys me is the nano SIM. Just when everyone is starting to use micro SIM’s Apple releases a new, slightly smaller SIM card. It’s really not that much smaller and it makes me wonder if it’s really necessary. It makes switching between the iPhone and other phones much more complicated. Then again, maybe that’s the point.
The built-in speaker is very loud - one of the loudest on the market. Compared to the 4s, the 5’s is about the same loudness but it sounds slightly better. That said, you won’t notice unless you have them side-by-side.
To me, the iPhone 5 still has a great form factor. I’m glad Apple didn’t put a monster 4.8” display on their device. I love my Galaxy S III but it’s too big. The width of the iPhone makes it easy to hold and use with one hand.
On paper, the 5’s camera is unchanged from the 4. 8MP with a f/2.4 lens. There’s a new panorama feature. While panorama programs have been around for years - I personally like using 360 and Photosynth - the iPhone 5’s records panoramas at a very high resolution. I’m not sure of the maximum resolution but I’ve taken panoramas with resolutions as high as 27 megapixels.
Unlike Photosynth and 360, the iPhone’s panorama feature only lets you move left-to-right (like Sony’s sweep panorama).
While it doesn’t like it there are moving subjects in your panoramas overall, as long as your careful it does a decent job. Look at my stunning panorama of Costco.
As far as camera performance goes, the 5 has very good low-light performance. I compared the 5 with the 4s, HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S III. I did a quick test outside my office when it was dark. For the One X and GS3, I set both to their respective night or low light modes. The One X has an advantage here because it has a f/2.0 lens while the GS3’s f/2.6 lens is a bit slower than the 4s and 5’s f/2.4 lens.
I should also point out that I have no control over how long each camera leaves it’s shutter open. The night modes on the One X and GS3 will tell them to leave the shutter open longer but the iPhone lacks this sort of mode.
Anyways, here are the results. The GS3 does quite well here but it has to open the lens for ˝ seconds which is a really long time to hand hold. It uses a gain of ISO 640.
The One X doesn’t do that well even though it has a f/2.0 lens. Its using a shutter speed of ⅛ which is 4x shorter than the GS3 which is one of the reasons why it does badly. Gain is ISO 1250.
The iPhone 4s does terrible here. It uses the fastest shutter speed here at 1/15 which is 7.5 times faster than the GS3. Gain is ISO 800.
The iPhone 5’s shutter speed of 1/15 ties the 4s here as being the faster here. Despite that, it does the best here. It’s got the best colour and is more or less tied with the GS3 details-wise. It’s gain is ISO 3200.
So the iPhone 5 with it’s sensor that can go up to ISO 3200 wins the test here. That's very good low-light performance. While the GS3 does okay here, it’s ˝ shutter speed isn’t very usable unless you have very, very steady hands. Despite it’s fast lens and high ISO number, the One X does poorly here.
Subjectively, the iPhone 5’s camera feels a little faster than the 4s which is no slouch. You can take more pictures quickly plus focus feels a bit faster. It also launches faster.
While LTE has been around on Android phones for about a year now it’s new to the iPhone 5. When people ask me about LTE and what use all the extra speed is I have 2 things to say about it. 1) right now, the extra speed isn’t the point, 2) LTE has lower ping times, 3) LTE networks tend to be less congested.
One of the reasons why LTE tends to be less congested is due to the fact that the iPhone 4s didn’t have LTE. Now that the iPhone 5 has LTE we’re going to have an influx of iPhone users downloading Apps, Facetiming, iMessaging and doing other things to clog up the network. Whether this will result in so much congestion that the LTE networks becoming crippled remains to be seen.
I’m an Apple developer so I’ve had it running on my iPhone 4s for a couple of months now. While there are various changes the big ones are that the YouTube and Maps apps from Google are now gone. There is now a YouTube app from Google that you can download from the app store which is much better than the old one. In fact it’s quite similar to the one you get on Android phones. The map app has been replaced by one from Apple.
While the new maps app from Apple looks much nicer than Google maps for iOS ever did, I’m disappointed that there’s no navigation.
There are also reports that the mapping information isn’t as detailed or accurate as Google Maps. While I didn’t test this exhaustively, recently, I was in downtown Toronto with forum member DerekToronto when he asked Siri to find the closest all-you-can-eat Sushi restaurant. It found us a restaurant in St Catherines (over 100km away). Still, I tried it later and it worked.
Since the 5 has a longer screen not all apps fit it properly. If you’re using an app that doesn’t support the new resolution there will be black bars on the top and bottom of the screen in portrait mode and on the sides in landscape mode. Still, I’m sure many developers will eventually update their apps to support the new screen resolution ones. iOS devs had to deal with the same thing when they released the iPad.
When Apple launched the 5, one of the big improvements over the 4s is that the 5’s A6 chip is double the speed of the A5 in the 4s. Let’s see if it’s true.
SunSpider 0.9.1 (ms, lower is better)
Apple iPhone 5 911.7
Motorola ATRIX HD LTE 1246.6
HTC One X 1550.9
Apple iPhone 4s 1762.7
Samsung Galaxy S III 1781.5
Sony Xperia ION 1835.7
GL Benchmark 2.1.5 (Egypt on screen)
GL Benchmark’s 2.1.5 is a gaming benchmark that compares gaming performance.
Apple iPhone 4s 6555
Apple iPhone 5 6777
According to this test, the iPhone 5 has about the same graphics performance as the 4s. Turns out that GL Benchmark score is capped at 60 frames per second (probably an OS limitation). So, since the 4s can pretty much run the entire test at 60fps, the 5 can do this too. If nothing else, it tells us that even though the 4s is a year old, it’s no slouch in the graphics performance.
Luckily, GL Benchmark 2.5 came out recently. It has more demanding tests, which do a better job illustrating the differences between the 4s and 5
GL Benchmark 2.5.1 (Egypt on screen)
Apple iPhone 4s 21fps
Apple iPhone 5 39fps
Now we get a better idea of how much faster the 5 is than the 4s. Despite the fact that the 5 has a higher resolution screen it’s score is over 85% higher than the 4s’.
GL Benchmark 2.5.1 (Egypt offscreen)
The off-screen test runs at 1920x1080 and thus doesn’t fit on my phones screen.. This test is a little more abstract since most games run at whatever the the screen resolution is. Still, it allows us to compare graphics performance with devices that have different resolution screens.
Apple iPhone 5 29fps
Samsung Galaxy S III 13fps
Apple iPhone 4s 12fps
HTC One X (Tegra 3) 9.7fps
It would seem that the A6 chip in the iPhone 5 is seriously packing. It’s over 2x as fast as the Adreno 225 in the Galaxy S III or the A5 chip in the 4s. There could be many reasons why there is such a difference. The Adreno 225 is a bit older and is in the process of being supplanted by the Adreno 305. Maybe the A6 has more memory bandwidth because it will presumably used in the successor to the iPad 3 later on.
I hate battery life tests because it’s impossible to replicate real world usage in a controlled environment. Still, I do it so we have numbers to compare. To test battery life, I charge the battery, max out the brightness, turn on airplane mode and playback a video until the the phone turns off.
Battery test (mins, higher is better)
Apple iPhone 4s 422
Apple iPhone 5 388
Samsung Galaxy S III 368
HTC One X (Tegra 3) 262
Anyways, when it comes to battery life, my ‘seat of the pants’ feeling is more important than a number a benchmark spits out. The problem with iOS (and it’s not really a problem) is that some of the higher end games are devastating to battery life. Playing Infinity Blade 2 for half an hour is going to make a huge dent in your battery life. My feeling is that the iPhone 5 probably won’t make it through the day unless you’re a fairly light user. It does seem to last a little longer than the iPhone 4s but it’s still not enough.
I wish Apple had made the 5 the same thickness as the 4s and stuck a bigger battery in it. The 5’s battery is about the same size as the one in the 4s.
As a Phone:
One of the best things about using the iPhone as a phone is that it has one of the loudest earpieces and speaker on the market. Sound quality is good.
HSPA RF performance seems similar to the 4s.
I don’t normally comment on bundled headphones. To be honest, I can’t remember the last set of bundled headphones I tried. They’re usually normally cheap, don’t sound that great and should be the first thing you replace if you listen to music on your phone.
Still, Apple is making a big deal about their new Earpods headphones so I figured I’d give them a shot. At first, I didn’t like how they fit in my ears - turns out you need to press them in. Once you do that they fit really well.
They sound pretty decent. The fact that they come ‘free’ with the iPhone is plus. Compared to my Sony XBA-3’s the EarPods have slightly more bass and and comparable volume but they’re slightly less revealing. I think most people will at the very least find that the EarPods are a lot of fun. Just watch out that you don’t damage your hearing!
If you buy an iPhone 5 and don’t already own a pair of fancy headphones give the EarPods a try first. They’re quite a pleasant surprise.
iOS or Android:
Android or iOS is such a loaded question. With so many fanboys out there there's no correct answer. After all, it's easy to focus on one problem and blow it out of proportion.
First off, which Android phone do you compare with? Right now the best Android device out there is probably the HTC One X. That said, the One X has a fatal flaw - it only has 10GB of storage. The Galaxy S III is much more popular but it’s screen doesn’t work well outdoors. On the software side, do you go with a pure Android device like the Galaxy Nexus or something very customized like the Galaxy S III?
Anyways, I decided to compare with my Galaxy S III running the default Samsung software - it’s what most people will experience if they buy an Android phone. I've also been asked the question "iPhone or Galaxy?" countless times.
I was taking the train the other day. I had my iPhone 5 in one hand and my Galaxy S III in the other. It was when I was using both at the same time that I realized what I liked about my GS3 and what I like about my iPhone. Note that this is NOT meant to be an exhaustive comparison between the 2. Rather, it’s just some random points that stuck out to me.
In my hand there’s no comparison. The iPhone 5 is easier to hold. It’s narrower so I can use it easily with one hand. I kind of have to balance the GS3 because I have to constantly re-position my hand my hand. There’s also the materials. The iPhone 5 feels much fancier. The GS3 doesn’t feel cheap but it feels much more plastic-y.
Since plastic is more shock absorbent than metal you could argue that the GS3 can take a drop better than the iPhone 5. Personally, I’ve seen both GS3’s and iPhones (and other phones like the HTC One X) with cracked screens. Don’t forget, the GS3 is harder to hold onto because it’s so big. Bottom line, don’t drop your phone.
When it comes to surfing the web, it’s hard to beat the GS3. On both my GS3 and iPhone, I use Chrome instead of the stock browser. I find the iPhone is a little smoother but what I really notice is that the extra screen size on the GS3 makes a difference. According to my measurements the GS3 screen is over 40% bigger.
Sometimes my phone is in my pocket and I like to just take it out, look at it and put it back in without unlocking the screen. The iPhone has its lock screen while the GS3 has its notification area. To me, the iPhone’s lock screen is more useful. I can quickly view my emails, texts, facebook messages by pressing power and scrolling up and down. The GS3 notification area is less focused. It gets cluttered and shows less important information.
One area where the iPhone really lags behind Android is when it comes to sharing. When viewing a picture on the iPhone, you can send it via; Email, Text message, Twitter, Facebook or copy it to your clipboard. That’s not so bad right? Those are probably the 4 most popular choices. On my GS3 I can send it to all those plus my Picasa web album, Facebook Messenger, Bluetooth,Wi-Fi Direct, Dropbox, etc. Further, you can always add more destinations if you want. If I want to send a picture to my Picasa on my iPhone I need to go find a Picasa app and then use that to upload.
Since I was taking the train, I decided to take a look at each phone’s built-in mapping program to figure out how to get where I’m going. The new mapping program in the iPhone 5 look amazing. It’s very clean and feels streamlined. However, it has one huge problem - while it has navigation and guidance, there’s no support for public transit. Does Apple think that all their users drive cars?
I was in New York recently and was using the public transit features on Google Maps extensively. I would have been in deep trouble if I had to reply on Apple’s Map. Presumably Apple Maps will get this feature eventually but as of right now, out of the box, it’s useless.
Keyboards are a very personal thing. I find that the iPhone’s key spacing and auto correct feel more natural to me. I actually use Swiftkey on my Galaxy S III and find it’s a bit better than the Samsung keyboard but I still prefer the iPhone’s.
On the train I like to watch videos. Here the Galaxy S III blows the iPhone out of the water. My GS3 is able to playback many more video formats and more importantly, it supports picture-in-picture. I’m able to watch a video while I surf the web, Foursquare, Email, etc. On my iPhone, I’m constantly hitting the home button.
Since we're talking about video don't forget that the GS3 has a MicroSD slot and that video chews up a lot of storage. My 16GB GS3 costs around 599 while my 64GB MicroSD is around $60. A 16GB iPhone 5 was $599. If I wanted a 64GB version it would be another $200.
Customization is tricky. On the iPhone, you can customize your wallpaper and ringtones. Icons can be organized into folders. You can do all these things with the GS3 but you also have home screens, widgets, live wallpapers, etc. Another thing you can do with a GS3, is that you can connect it to your computer and manage many of your files.
Speaking of customization, people who like to tinker with their phones will find a GS3 much easier to tinker with. On the iPhone, you have to make sure you don’t update it, wait for jailbreaks, that sort of thing. Android doesn’t care if you tinker with your phone (as long as you don't break it). Apple will do everything they can to stop you.
Since the iPhone is a) very popular b) only comes out once a year, there are countless accessories which are made for the iPhone. It’s not to say that there are no accessories for the GS3 but the iPhone wins here.
People ask me whether they should get an iPhone or an Android (actually they say, iPhone or Galaxy). It’s just too hard to say because they’re too different and both are really good.
If you own an iPhone and like it you should probably stick with it. If you think iPhones are cool and you want to be cool then get an iPhone. The iPhone has that effect on people.
Apple somehow managed to add a bigger screen, a LTE radio yet increase battery life while using roughly the same size battery as the 4s. I guess that’s the advantage of being vertically integrated like Apple. That said, like all other smartphones, battery life can stink if you’re doing a lot with it. If you use your phone lightly then you’ll find the battery life tolerable. If you play Infinity Blade, you’ll think the battery indicator goes down in increments of 10%.
Apple made the new iPhone 5 thinner and lighter than the 4s and to be honest, if you don’t stick it in a case, it’s too thin and light. I understand the need to have a phone that’s more svelte than the competition, but I would have rather Apple made the the 5 the same thickness as the 4s and put a bigger battery in it. There’s no replacement for a big battery.
While the iphone 5 contains many incremental changes from the 4s, they’re not really that noticeable. Yes, apps, especially games load a little quicker, plus the LTE makes a difference if you find HSPA to be overloaded. But overall, it’s not a day and night difference.
But that’s kinda the point. I find that on Apple you only really need to upgrade every other generation. If you’re coming from an iPhone 4 then the iPhone 5 will be a big change. If you own a 4s then the difference doesn’t feel as dramatic. If I may Segue
a little, it’s actually like this on Android too now - at least with the current generation of Android hardware. The difference between Galaxy S II and III isn’t massive.
It's an evolution, not revolution of the iPhone line.
- speaker is loud
- big screen (for an iPhone)
- included headphones
- LTE (new feature for the iPhone)
- thin and light
- too thin and light (buy a case)
- new SIM card format
- new proprietary connector
- finish is delicate
Last edited by howard; 10-05-2012 at 06:57 PM.
New Infinity Blade character
My iPhone 5 ringtone: Bah, Bah, Black Sheep.
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whats with this white iphone take over?
FS: Verizon GNEX 32GB
check out the posting, pix and lots of goodies included.
PM for questions.
Good review. I think the white looks way better.
Seems like it is cool to have these in your sig?
One of the best things about using the iPhone as a phone is that it has one of the loudest earpieces and speaker on the market. Sound quality is good.
Seriously? Both my brother and I, coming from using BB, think the iPhone earpiece is way too quiet. You can never hear anything in places like a crowded restaurant when on BB there was no problem. Mind you we both have iPhone 4's... is this improved with iPhone 5?
That was the best review I have read on the iPhone 5 thanks Howard you rock
Thin and light is both a Pro and a Con?
White phones are for girls
Sent from my SGH-I747M using Tapatalk 2
Forgot to mention, when I preordered and had to decide on colour I got white because I figured the black one would flake off. I have a Blackberry Storm that has an awesome black metal battery cover that partially flaked off so I figured the same thing would happen with the black iPhone - I was right.
I personally really like the backside of the iPhone. It kind of pays homage to the original iPhone I think with that finish. Nice review. I guess it would be asking too much for the iPhone 5 to be a "revolution".
Thanks for the review. Set up a Black today. The 3,4 and 4S were nice to set up and use, but this one is really impressive in the hand.
I want this, the gnote 2 or the next nexus.