We don't have an iPhone 5 in our hands yet, so like many of you are living vicariously through the reviews of others. Those lucky enough to get about a week's early access to Apple's latest smartphone are tripping over themselves to dish out praise in write-ups and video reviews.
USA Today's Edward Baig anticipates feelings of "lust" for the new iPhone, which he says "should keep Apple at the front of the smartphone pack." Having said that, he doesn't concede the market to Apple, which he has plenty of competition from the Galaxy S III and other solid Android phones.
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Baig touted Safari searching zipping along over 4G LTE, though he warned that performance could vary once more users pile onto the network. He lauded the new 4-inch screen, which he says makes the phone feel just the right size. The iPhone 5's camera, audio and newly designed earbuds also satisfied.
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The Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg also gives the iPhone 5 a thumbs up, calling the iPhone the best on the market, especially given its 700,000 third-party apps.
Mossberg likes the taller iPhone 5, which he says is more natural to hold in one hand than some of the wider Android models. What's more, Apple adds a sixth row of icons to the screen for added convenience, given people are growing their must-have apps list.
The Wall Street Journal columnist concurred with USA Today's Baig that the phone is faster, in part due to the new A6 processor but also because it can access LTE networks. He says that while using the phone on LTE networks in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., he experienced 10 times faster download and upload speeds than experienced on 3G networks using the iPhone 4S.
One downside of the new phone is its support for Apple's own maps app, a changeover from support for Google Maps. While new turn-by-turn navigation is a plus, Mossberg writes that the Apple Maps app lacks the groundview you get from Google Maps, and dishes you off to third-party apps for some information, such as public transit routing.
Engadget's Tim Stevens calls the iPhone 5 "every bit the device that people were asking for when the iPhoen 4S came out."
The lightness of the phone, which is 20% lighter than the 4S, is the most noticeable physical aspect of the iPhone 5, Stevens writes. Although he also gives kudos to the screen quality, citing the higher pixel density vs. the iPhone 4S.
The most disappointing physical change is not with the phone itself, but with the Lightning adapter, which replaces the venerable 30-pin adapter on earlier iPhones and other Apple devices. Stevens says the performance is slower on activities such as syncing, and notes this isn't surprising given the technology is based on USB 2.0 rather than 3.0.
On the iOS 6/apps front, Stevens compliments Apple's Maps app, though like Mossberg is critical of its lack of public transportation directions. He finds the Passbook wallet app incomplete, but is hopeful it will become more useful as third-party apps emerge.
Macworld UK tested the iPhone 5 at the press event and came away with these thoughts: it's more comfortable/less "sharp" to hold; the screen is less susceptible to glare; and an improved camera lens for taking pictures in less than ideal circumstances (like a press conference). On the downside - that pesky $30 adapter you'll need to hook the phone to your older peripherals.
Slashgear's Vincent Nguyen writes that the physical changes to the iPhone 5, including the more resilient anodized aluminum back that replaces the glass of past models, have not "been forced for the sake of aesthetics alone." While Nguyen says he has felt a bit cramped with the smaller iPhone size vs. that of some Android phones, the slightly bigger iPhone 5 was "love at first swipe."
Apple's improved screen technology makes graphics "swim directly under the fingertop," though he says he didn't notice any big difference in touch responsiveness. The A6 processor delivered for Nguyen, who "couldn't find a single app to slow the iPhone 5 down."
Like others, Nguyen raved over the LTE connectivity, though warned pain could be ahead for those who travel internationally and could run into roaming issues with networks that aren't compatible with the Apple smartphone.
The Guardian's Charles Arthur writes that while the iPhone 5 introduction might have been met with some yawns, experiencing the actual device will perk many up. He says the phone seems to float in your hand and that you're actually touching the pixels. And perhaps overlooked: integration with iCloud is seamless, reuniting existing iPhone users who buy the new phone to all their old stuff. He also was impressed with how quickly the iPhone 5 recharges once the battery is drained.
Wrapping up the iPhone 5 lovefest, CNET headlines its photo-filled review: "Finally, the iPhone we've always wanted." The reviewer lauds the top-to-bottom design, with the main complaint about the phone being the lack of simultaneous data and voice support over AT&T and Verizon's networks (plus Apple's decision to forego near-field communications, or NFC).
CNET's Scott Stein likes the battery life, which Apple was so concerned about in earlier pre-LTE models, though does note there are more energy-efficient models out there such as the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx. He's also satisfied with the many subtle changes to the phone, including the better camera, and is not begging for more bells and whistles.