In September, Apple finally released the iPhone that I was waiting for since I picked up the iPhone 3GS over three years ago. For years, I toiled with the iPhone 3GS, waiting for Apple to not only increase the screen size of the iPhone but also to add 4G LTE data speeds. Both of those features arrived with the iPhone 5 and I quickly replaced my iPhone 3GS. Here are my thoughts after spending two months with the iPhone 5.
After spending my first month with the iPhone 5, I started to feel like I had made the right choice in upgrading from my iPhone 3GS. The iPhone 3GS, even after the iOS 6 update, ran extremely well but there were enough issues where making the upgrade made sense.
With new smartphone releases like the Google Nexus 4 and the Verizon Galaxy Note 2, I’ve started to reflect on the past two or so months that I’ve spent with the iPhone 5 to decide whether I made the right call in picking it up.
Here is my review of the iPhone 5 after spending two months with the new smartphone.
As I stated in my first review of the iPhone 5, coming from the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 5 is almost a surreal upgrade. Apps actually open when I tap on them. Scrolling around the home screens isn’t sluggish. In other words, the iPhone 5 and its A6 processor fly.
Over the past two months, there have only been a couple of times when I’ve experienced any kind of sluggishness with the operating system, which is of course, iOS 6. Things are snappy, responsive, and the animations smooth.
I always smile when I am able to open up my camera application without any sort of lag, snap a photo or take a video, and have it come out smooth and beautiful. The iPhone 3GS did not afford me these features.
As for the performance of the hardware, it simply has been a fantastic experience. The phone is lightweight, it’s thin and easy to hold, and the screen is still small enough to surf with my thumbs. I’ve also dropped my phone several times, on the aluminum, and I’ve yet to experience any dings or scuffs.
In fact, I have used my iPhone 5 case-free and I’ll likely be doing that for the next two years. There are some beautifully designed phones out there, but I have yet to encounter any that top the design of the iPhone 5.
Connectivity has been solid with the iPhone 5 and while I run on AT&T’s 4G LTE network which isn’t available anywhere, the phone has had no issues switching to AT&T’s 4G HSPA+ network.
Apple promised stellar battery life with the iPhone 5 and thus far, I haven’t been disappointed. I’m not the type of person who is constantly connected to 4G LTE. I am generally running on Wi-Fi but when I am on 4G LTE, the iPhone 5’s battery has performed admirably. When using it strictly on 4G LTE as I normally do, I generally can get about eight to nine hours of battery.
Average use for me includes browsing the web, checking email, sending a boat load of iMessages, making lengthy calls to co-workers and loved ones, and checking in with apps like Twitter, ESPN and Facebook.
I think there are still improvements to be made, but for Apple’s first go-round with 4G LTE, it did a great job.
Not everything has been stellar from a performance standpoint though. There have been some serious bugs that I’ve dealt with for the past two months. One of the biggest ones, issues with my Wi-Fi connection, was fixed with the previous update. I know people are still having problems but mine, at the least have subsided.
I’ve also been faced with two other bugs that have frustrating me over the last two months. The first has to do with iMessages. Often when I get a series of iMessages from friends, my phone will not prompt me on my home screen. So more than a few times, I’ve didn’t find out about messages until way later. I thought the issue died with iOS 6.0.1 but it has returned several times in the past week or so though with less frequency.
Another issue I’ve had is with random reboots. I’d say it has happened around 15 times since I bought the phone. The issue is sporadic and doesn’t seem to be related to anything specific, at least not that I can see. My iPhone 5, for whatever reason, just locks up and then shuts off only to display the Apple symbol a few seconds later and reboot to my lock screen. It’s faster than a typical shut down and power up, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an annoyance.
There have also been a few times where people say they have called me where I didn’t receive a call though I suspect that has more to do with service and not the iPhone 5 itself.
So what about the individual features of the iPhone 5? Instead of going over each one, I want to take a look at six in particular, three that I’ve absolutely loved over the past two months and three that I could live without. Let’s start with the good.
iPhone 5 Features I Love
I’ve used a lot of smartphone cameras and the iPhone 5’s rear camera is easily one of the best that I’ve ever used. It takes fantastic photos, even in low-light areas, and videos actually live up to my lofty expectations in that they both look and sound great. Coming from the iPhone 3GS, you come to appreciate these things.
The software tweaks that Apple added are nice additions to an amazing camera that has permanently replaced my Canon point and shoot as my go to camera on the go. Here’s to hoping that Apple includes some more software upgrades for the camera in iOS 7. Panorama mode was a great start, but it has nothing on Photo Sphere in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
It was tough to pass on Verizon’s massive 4G LTE network but I feel l made the right choice for several reasons. One, the iPhone 5 is able to switch, with ease, between HSPA+ 4G and 4G LTE. HSPA+ blows 3G out of the water, and I can’t even imagine being stuck on it with areas where LTE isn’t available. Needless to say, with an unlimited data plan, I am spoiled.
It’s also nice being able to use the web while on the phone at the same time. I can’t imagine not having this feature. Sorry, Verizon iPhone 5 owners.
For those that don’t know, I absolutely hated the glass back on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. In fact, it was one of the reasons why I avoided them. I saw too many friends crack the back and then have to deal with it until their upgrade. And while the iPhone 5 does feature glass, it’s minimal.
The iPhone 5’s industrial design is impressive to say the least. The combination of metal, glass and aluminum looks great and is easy to hold. It’s also proved durable time and time again. The design is also lightweight and thin, two things that I greatly appreciate coming from the iPhone 3GS.
It’s not often that you get a total package from a design but you get that from the iPhone 5.
iPhone 5 Features I Loathe
I’ve used Siri maybe twenty times in the time that I’ve had my iPhone 5. 10 of those times, Siri completely failed to figure out what I was asking it, another five times it brought up something unrelated and the other five it was useful. The new features especially the sports scores were neat on day one. Then, I figured out I couldn’t see anything beyond a box score.
There just isn’t a compelling reason to use Siri on a daily basis at this point and I doubt that changes in the next two years or so that I have this phone.
I don’t know if it’s because I have big hands or what, but there many times when people on the other end of the phone can’t understand a thing I’m saying. Specifically, any time I lay down flat on my back, the iPhone 5’s microphones seem to go especially bad. A few times, it’s gotten so bad that the people on the other end of the line hung up because they couldn’t deal with it.
People also complain that my voice is extremely low on the other end so I often have to yell into it for them to hear exactly what I’m saying.
While refreshing at first, the new Lightning Port on the iPhone 5 has been driving me nuts. Sure, it’s not an issue when I’m at home surrounded by cords, but when I go out, and I need to charge, it’s an absolute nightmare. There have been plenty of times where my iPhone 5 dies while I’m out and I’m at friends house where there is no compatible charger.
I refuse to pay the exorbitant price for the adapter or carry it around with me at all times. So until this becomes more commonplace, I’m sure it’s going to help me sprout some more gray hairs.
To sum it all up, after two months with the iPhone 5, I’m extremely pleased with my purchase. Just about any current-generation phone would have been a major upgrade over the iPhone 3GS but the iPhone 5 truly is a phone that I feel comfortable using on a daily basis given its amenities.
The 4-inch display is big enough where videos are easy to watch but small enough where it still feels like a phone. The processor can easily handle iOS, gaming and applications. 4G LTE is fantastic, especially on AT&T. And in my opinion, the design is unparalleled.
It’s definitely a phone that should be high up there on any smartphone shopping list with the likes of the Nexus 4, Galaxy Note 2 and Windows Phone 8.