I've had three days now to play with the new iPhone 5. And, having owned every one of them but the first, I view this latest model as an evolutionary but not revolutionary upgrade.
By now, if you care about this kind of stuff, you've probably read countless tech reviews from mobile phone and PC experts. I'm not that guy. I'm just someone who uses his phone every day for work and for play. And, I would've written this sooner, but the upgrade didn't go so well. Migrating my old phone from iTunes failed after about four hours, and backing up from iCloud took a good 18 hours to complete. In essence, I've only had a working iPhone 5 for two days.
Here are a few of my early impressions:
Form factor: Pictures don't really do this phone justice. The new iPhone feels much thinner and lighter than its predecessor. After using it for just a few hours, the iPhone 4S feels and looks like a brick, as ridiculous as that sounds. The added height is interesting, and takes a while to get used to. So far, I don't love it. The screen is somehow brighter than the last one, too â€“ almost too bright and saturated at its max. I'm sure in a few more days, I won't even notice. As usual, the build quality is excellent. Even if this new model is a little boring, it looks and feels nicer than any other phone on the market.
Camera: I haven't seen much of an improvement here, though the specs indicate that maximum ISO has been bumped up, and the aperture has been expanded. That's good for low-light situations, and in my first tests, those picture do look pretty good. The panorama feature is extremely cool, but that works with the older phone, too.
Battery life: Much better, at least for now. My old iPhone would be at about 40 percent by mid afternoon. On the new phone, it's easily holding a charge all day.
Speed: For typical tasks, the iPhone 5 doesn't seem blazingly faster than its predecessor. I'm sure it is, but for e-mail, the Web, Twitter and Facebook, it's just a bit snappier. Opening more processor-intensive apps like MLB At Bat, you begin to see the difference.
Maps: Not good. While they've worked fine for me, it's obvious that Apple rushed this to market to exclude Google. The Siri-powered turn-by-turn directions have worked well for me so far, but the native Apple maps just have much less detail their predecessor. I'm sure this will improve over time, but for now, it's a black eye for Apple.
Siri: The first generation of Siri worked well for me about 10 percent of the time. So far, the better microphones and Siri upgrades seem to be slightly more accurate. That's not saying much. Siri is just barely less useless to me now, but I still can't count on her for a tweet, Facebook update or accurate text message. Even my 4-year-old asked, "Siri doesn't understand English very well, does she, Daddy?"
4G: On Verizon, it's extremely fast. I'm very impressed, although this isn't so much praise of the phone as it is of the network.
Call quality: My first few calls haven't been great, but that's a total wildcard. I'll need more time to evaluate.
Connectivity: The new cable is tiny and interchangeable, which is great. Unfortunately, every connector in my house, office and car is for the older jack, so I find myself walking around with a cable. I can't connect my iPhone to my car stereo, and adapters aren't yet available. Third-party models don't exist, and Apple's are $30 apiece. This transition, while typically of Apple, is especially cruel and greedy to its loyal customers.
Durability: So far, so good. Either the Apple logo on the back came with a tiny scratch on it, or it scratched within the first 10 minutes of ownership, but so far the white iPhone 5 looks up to the task of going caseless.
Software: Excellent. Big improvements all around in iOS 6. Love the "Do Not Disturb" function and FaceTime over cellular. Thing is, all of this works almost as well on the iPhone 4S. Of course, the iPhone 5 is the ultimate device to showcase this software on. I'm sure the combination of more horsepower plus newer software will become increasingly evident in coming weeks.
Price: A bargain at $199, although I would've like to seen a storage capacity increase. With HD video and large image files, the 16GB model isn't enough for most serious users, so expect to spend $299 for the 32GB model (personally, I don't like to keep my music in the cloud, so I can hear it anytime).
Should you upgrade? Yes. If only for the 4G and battery life. If my review sounds like a tepid endorsement, it is ... and it isn't. Again, the iPhone was pretty great in its last form, so tweaks like speed, size and 4G just push it back to the top, without completely upending the wireless industry once again.
If you're not eligible for an upgrade, the world won't end if you wait to buy. But if you are, do yourself a favor: sell your old iPhone and get this one. There's no way you'll be disappointed if you do. The best phone in the world just got a little better. And "better than best" is pretty, pretty good.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published July 25, 2016
Jessica Tighe is an appreciative person. While the Elm Grove native has worked in West Virginia, the Quad Cities and La Crosse, now she's home and co-anchoring the morning news on CBS 58. Ask Tighe how it feels and she actually gets goose bumps: "I have family here. I'm invested in this market," she says with a smile.
Published July 11, 2016
Summerfest 2016 may have come and gone, but the memories will live forever - because we at OnMilwaukee took enough photos and video to fill a large hard drive.
Published July 9, 2016
Playing before the Barenaked Ladies and OMD, Howard Jones got the 6 p.m. spot at the BMO Harris Pavilion Saturday night, and while that's not exactly top billing for an artist who had 15 top 40 singles during his career, I'll take it.
Published July 9, 2016
In a word, Paul McCartney was amazing tonight. I feel beyond fortunate that I've now seen him play twice. Now back at the office, at midnight, Bobby is writing the main review, but I have some stuff to say, too. Random stuff, so please indulge me.
Published July 7, 2016
Go ahead; get those laughs out of the way. I'm trying to write a serious review of Anthony Ray's Big Gig show. You, of course, know him as Sir Mix-a-Lot, and unless you listened to his tapes in the early '90s, you probably recognize just one of his songs.
Published June 30, 2016
If you've ever bought an official Summerfest T-shirt, hat or other branded gift, it's first gone through Dan Elias. As vice president of The Specialized Marketing Group Inc., he's managed the merch for the Big Gig for 17 years.
Published June 28, 2016
In college, I had a reoccurring nightmare that I was trapped on a crazy elevator. Lately, that's been replaced by what I call the "fat finger" dream. I've talked to a few people, including co-worker Molly Synder, who has had it, too.
Published June 27, 2016
OnMilwaukee publisher Andy Tarnoff is very impressed with this year's Summerfest lineup, but he thinks the strongest day for the Big Gig is on July 9. For his money, he's especially excited about Howard Jones and, obviously, Sir Paul McCartney. Here are his picks.
Published June 11, 2016
"It's good to be king." Mel Brooks actually said that, quoting himself, to a sold-out show Saturday night at the Riverside. Based on the remarkable stories, the adoring reception and the super-human energy from this soon-to-be 90-year-old film legend, I believe him.
Published May 7, 2016
I won't lie to you: I know nothing about the current state of professional wrestling. But from 1983 to 1989, from about age 9 to 15, I was a huge fan. So big, in fact, that I wrote a fan letter to WWF announcer "Mean" Gene Okerlund.