iPhone 5, it's still just a phone
Sep 23, 2012 / 8:31 pm
The iPhone 5 is just a phone.
Sometimes it bears repeating, given the inescapable hype that surrounds just about every product launch Apple orchestrates.
If you knew nothing about technology, you might reasonably assume that Apple's new phone must be a revolutionary technological marvel, based on the breathless news coverage that started months ago and TV footage of long overnight lineups for the gadget.
But the iPhone 5 is just a phone. A great one, yes, and arguably the best you can buy right now. It's certainly the best Apple has ever produced, a seemingly slight but marked upgrade over its already powerful predecessor. But the iPhone 5 doesn't represent a paradigm shift in mobile technology, there's no killer feature that renders the iPhone 4 or 4S, or other high-end competitors made by the likes of Samsung, obsolete.
But it still must be said that Apple has taken a phone that was already at the top of its class and undoubtedly made it even better.
The improved look and feel of the iPhone 5 is immediately apparent. It's a shiny, slick device with a luxurious look to match its hefty price tag. Compared to the previous iPhones, it's been stretched out vertically by just under a centimetre, which allowed Apple to increase its screen size by about 1.25 centimetres diagonally, giving it the 16:9 aspect ratio used for high definition video.
The extra-tall screen means there's an additional row of icons on the home screen, more of a web page is displayed before having to scroll and watching a HD movie fills the screen fully. But as of now, not all apps have been optimized for the new display, so users may find black bars at the edges of the screen in some apps.
Some consumers may be disappointed that Apple didn't make the new screen even larger. Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III has a screen that's a full two centimetres larger when measured diagonally and while bulkier to handle, it's still manageable to carry around and stick in a pocket. I can't say one screen size is better than another, it's a matter of personal preference.
Apple also boasts its new phone is 18 per cent thinner and 20 per cent lighter than the last iPhone. The iPhone 5 does feel like it's a hollow shell compared to the iPhone 4S. But while it's no doubt a technological feat, practically speaking, its feather-weight feel isn't really a feature.
Like with most new models, the processing power has got a major boost in the iPhone 5, giving it the potential to be twice as fast as the iPhone 4S. In reality, app programmers still haven't had a chance to really take advantage of that extra power, so the iPhone 5 doesn't actually work twice as fast as the last phone. But it is noticeably quicker in responding to most tasks, including launching apps and using the web browser.
The incentive to save money by buying an older iPhone is even greater when looking at unlocked models. The iPhone 4 is $450, the iPhone 4S costs another $150 more, and the iPhone 5 ranges between $700 to $900. That's a lot of money for technology that falls out of fashion so quickly.
At those prices, consumers might want to remind themselves: it's just a phone.
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