My new iPhone 5 arrived last Friday and so far I have been very impressed. Right out of the box the first thing you notice is the weight. It’s light. At first it almost feels too light. It’s also noticeably thinner in my hand. After a few days I got used to the malnourished frame and now my old iPhone 4 feels like a clunky beast. It’s comparable to when the Retina was released, once you saw that high resolution display there was no way you could go back to those old pixelated screens.
Packaged with the new iPhone are Apple’s new Earpods. Surprisingly they included a little carrying case but personally I doubt many will take the time to wrap their new pods carefully and pack them neatly after every use. The pods themselves are definitely an improvement on the previous buds that Apple has supplied over the years. The same issues persist in the redesign although with considerably less severity. They still don’t fit quite right and frequently fall out. They also still hurt after being used for long periods of time. They do sound quite a bit better but ultimately fail to compare to most mid-grade aftermarket ear phones.
In what is probably the most controversial addition to this years iPhone the new Lightening connector is sure to frustrate your wallet due to the need to purchase adaptors for all of your old 30-pin accessories. That annoyance aside, it’s actually a nice upgrade. It’s considerably more compact and reversible. This may seem like small potatoes but for someone who frequently struggled to connect the old connector in the dark this is a handy feature. The new connector was a necessary evil and in my opinion a welcome upgrade but it would have been nice for Apple to throw us a bone and include at least one adaptor for free.
The initial setup was quick and easy thanks to the guided utility that starts when you first boot the phone. My service was up and running in minutes. After downloading all of my apps and music from the cloud it was time to take the new iPhone for a spin. This thing is FAST. Everything about it in fact. The performance, the graphics and even the LTE data speeds. I really can’t tell the difference between LTE data speeds and WiFi. I remember thinking that 3G was fast but LTE is ridiculous.
I never really used Siri prior to iOS 6 but I’ve seen enough other people use it to know that it was nothing like what was shown in Apple’s commercials. Siri for iOS 6 is actually pretty useful. I’ve found myself using Siri to regularly add reminders, check sports scores, post to Facebook/Twitter and send messages. She still has a lot of annoyances and doesn’t really understand everything but she’s getting better for sure.
Maps has taken a lot of heat over the past few days. It’s not Google maps. It’s not bad either. I suppose it depends on where you are but I haven’t come across any inconsistencies personally. Many are complaining of things missing or being mislabeled. It sounds to me like another of Apple’s beta features they choose to force upon their customers with the full force of Steve Job’s reality distortion field. The turn by turn directions are a welcome addition but a few years late to the party.
All in all I think the iPhone 5 is one of the best phones available on the market. There was no wow factor but then again there doesn’t really need to be. The iPhone does what it does and does it better than most of the competition. That’s probably better than sacrificing quality in favor of some creative feature that most people won’t even really use. That said, Apple does seem to be flirting with that very scenario in the way it’s debuted Siri with the 4S and with maps for iOS 6. Don’t force a product before it’s ready. A well polished product that’s late is better than the PR nightmare of a product released before it’s time.