Reviews of the iPhone 5 can be found all over the Internet, but here’s my insight. First of all, this generation feels different than previous iterations, mostly because the apps play a more prominent role in the overall feel of the device. That coupled with some pretty insane engineering make up an enjoyably complete experience.
The screen is outstanding. Pixels seem closer to the surface, almost like you’re looking at paper — more so than the previous Retina Displays of the 4 and 4S. The already first-class display gets a nice spec bump with the iPhone 5 that I didn’t think previously possible.
The move to 4″ was the right one. I always loved the 3.5″ screen, but seeing the extra 0.5″ in person changed my mind. Slightly adjusting my grip has been the single negative impact of the larger screen size, and I only consider it negative because my built-up muscle memory is hell-bent on holding the phone the old way, which is uncomfortable on the iPhone 5. But overall, apps that take advantage of the extra screen real estate are stunning, especially those geared toward reading and writing. Byword and Drafts shine, as does Pocket. They seem like new apps, which is a good thing. All of that said, I don’t consider this a huge win for Apple; I see it as Apple caving to the market. As I said, I’ve been a proponent for the 3.5″ screen, but I was wrong. And so was Apple. Regardless of that, the user benefits from the evolution, and that’s what matters.
Every single review I’ve read has touched on the lighter weight of the device. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be impressed because of the point being hammered by the major tech press. I was so, so wrong. Taking the phone out of the box, I literally said, “Holy s*&%, how is this possible?” It’s that light. I’d go as far to say that I don’t want it to get lighter in future generations. The iPhone 5 is hovering over a line of perfectly weighted and uncomfortably weightless. Even half an ounce lighter would be too much, personally. This is the sweet spot. It could be that the iPhone 4/4S is particularly heavy, but that doesn’t take away from the remarkable engineering of the 5.
From a design perspective, this truly is the best iPhone yet. The thinness, the anodized aluminum (on the black model), the repositioned front camera, the redesigned speaker/mic on the bottom, and the Lightning port all play an important role in creating an absolutely incredible device. The symmetry is perfect — except for the rear camera, which is oddly aligned. The little details such as the redesigned speaker and mic grills may be minute, but things like this are a major bonus for the general aesthetic. I’m still adjusting my grip and reaching the corners is sometimes a pain, but the overall package is worth it.
There are a few tiny annoyances in what is, as a whole, a great device.
The screen looks a bit too warm in terms of color. Not to say that the display isn’t wonderfully vibrant, but there’s a faint yellow hue. This could be because the phone is brand new, but I’ve never seen two iPhones have the same color temperature. It’s peculiar but nothing major.
Another minor annoyance is how slippery it is. You’d think it couldn’t get any slicker than glass, but you’d be wrong. This is the first iPhone that I’ve felt I have to put a case on. For the record, I picked up an Incase Slider, but later returned it. It added far too much bulk to the phone. I ended up with a Rocketfish case. I’m not usually a fan of their products, but this case isn’t bad at all.
Lastly, bugs. It seems that the iOS 6 build for the iPhone 5 is rife with bugs. From graphical glitches to springboard crashes to inconsistent battery life, the bugs are everywhere. I know these will get fixed, but the last thing you want on an otherwise fantastic device is shaky software.
Apps that Shine
To wrap up, here are some of the apps that I think fit well on the iPhone 5. These are the best of the best.
- Capture – This is a streamlined way to record video. It’s simple; open the app, and it’s already recording. It sports a much less bulky UI than the native camera app as well.
- Dark Sky – Dark Sky is an app for tracking precipitation. It doesn’t try to cram in all sorts of weather data like other apps. Rain; that’s it. It’s dazzling on the iPhone 5.
- Pocket – Everyone knows what this is. It’s great. And it’s better on the 5.
- Day One – Keep your personal thoughts/stories/photos properly catalogued in Markdown (NERD ALERT), and do it in a fabulous UI.
- Drafts – I love this app. I love it more on the iPhone 5.
- Flurry – A new Twitter client on the block (Shawn has a Culture Milk review coming soon). Wonderful UI and a solid 1.0. It’s only going to get better.
- Things – Just look at it. Look at it. Perfect, that’s what it is. Todos done right, now with Siri integration.
Overall, the iPhone 5 is amazing. Speed, beauty, weight, form, and feel all play a role in what is clearly the best iPhone yet. Does it have its quirks? Yes. But considering all factors, this is a fantastic device that I’m thrilled to own.