The Apple iPhone 5 is the first iPhone with a larger, 4-inch screen. At the same time, it has become thinner, with a more elongated body. The iPhone 5 is powered by a new A6 chip that’s twice as powerful as the chip on the preceding iPhone 4S. It’s also the first iPhone with 4G LTE, supporting not just American frequencies, but LTE networks across the globe.
Design and hardwareWhile the basic design of the phone mimics the look of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, the actual components, materials, sizing, and weight make it seem like another device entirely.
Specs, display, soundInside the iPhone 5 you'll find a new dual-core A6 CPU running at a reported 1GHz, 1GB of RAM, between 16GB and 64GB of storage (I tested the 64GB version), and an assortment of radios supporting Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, 3G and LTE on both CDMA and GSM networks, and a GPS chip.
LTE speeds were excellent on the device, and general performance seemed excellent — easily surpassing what I'm accustomed to on the 4S, which is no slouch (more on both of these points later).
The device also features new cameras; an 8 megapixel shooter on back and a 1.2 megapixel version around front, and sports a compass, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, and accelerometer.
As you may have heard, Apple has increased the size of the display on the iPhone 5 to 4 inches (at an 1136 x 640 resolution), as opposed to the 3.5-inch screens that have dominated every other model in the line. Prior to the release of the new phone, there were many people who argued that the 3.5-inch display was scientifically perfect.
The sound on the new iPhone is crystal clear for both incoming audio on the earpiece or speaker, and outgoing audio from the mic on the device (or at least that's what callers told me). Apple has included three microphones on the new device to pick up sound as well as help with noise reduction, and it seems to be working.
CamerasA fine camera by point-and-shoot standards. The pictures from the iSight shooter on the back of the device look crisp, clear, and ultra-defined. The depth of field is shallow enough that you're able to produce shots that look dramatic without verging into parody. Wider shots looked fantastic as well, and macro performance was excellent. As I expected, color reproduction was a little bit blown out compared to other devices.
Lightning portThe new Lightning port Apple introduced caused something of a stir in the world of accessory makers, as well as users who've collected countless iPhone add-ons over the years — all of which utilize the now-old 30-pin dock connector. Though Apple will make adapters available, some functionality will be lost in translation: the new connectors won't support video out or iPod-out, which will render some setups non- or partially-functioning. This is particularly true for automakers, some of whom have already released statements noting reduced operation when the adapter is in use.
PerformanceFaster performance on the iPhone 5 was not exactly unexpected. Every year, Apple bests itself in the speed of operation for its phones, and I had no doubt the company would accomplish a bump in the new device. After touting what the A6 processor and its GPU could do on stage at its event two weeks ago, I knew that the iPhone 5 would feel faster than its predecessor. My only surprise was that the increase in speed wasn't quite as noticeable between the 4S and the 5. That may have more to do with the still-excellent performance of the iPhone 4S (particularly with iOS 7) than it does with the A6.