You’ve probably heard that the iPhone 5 has been unleashed on the public. After all, no device grabs the national spotlight like a new Apple gadget. Fans of competing smartphone platforms are offended by this national coverage the iPhone receives. Regardless of the fact that Apple created the modern smartphone market, these naysayers take to the tech message boards, twitter, and Facebook to remind people just how awesome their phone is and how stupid people are for buying an iPhone. “iSheep” they call them; people who buy an Apple product no matter what. It doesn’t register for many that the system is to blame. There are, quite literally, upwards of 100 android phones released per year. One new iPhone is obviously going to garner attention.
In reality, the onslaught of android and windows phones that hit the market have numbed our senses to what a phone can and should do; what it should or shouldn’t have. Insignificant, gimmicky features are highlighted in order to differentiate one phone company from another. A new release every 2-3 weeks clutters the carrier shelves with a confusing mess of screen sizes, colors, operating systems, custom skins, and worthless extras. It also means there’s no anticipation for the next great android device; no pent up demand or excitement.
So, of course, Apple’s offering is going to cause a stir. But just like a celebrity in a bathing suit on vacation, the spotlight brings this single, yearly release an immense amount of scrutiny. Rest assured fellow iSheep, even under the blinding glow of national attention and tech bloggers eager to find fault, the iPhone 5 does not disappoint.
One of the chief complaints of contrarian techies is the notion that the iPhone is a status symbol. Their contention is that the only reason to own one is to pretend you’re cool. This coincides with the geek mentality of ostracization and self importance; to them, whatever is mainstream is inferior to their far more sophisticated or educated choice. If you come upon one discrediting the new phone for it’s lack of innovation and vain design sense, ignore them. The newest iPhone is both beautiful to behold and an amazing piece of innovative hardware.
In a world where the newest Windows and android phones race to make the biggest screen, highest megapixel cameras, or strange new material backing, Apple continues to ask why. Every decision put into the new iPhone has been carefully scrutinized for both function and form. The iPhone 5 screen is bigger, but not so much that you have to use two hands to use it. It’s thinner but still maintains a high end feel with it’s balanced weight and premium materials. The camera is as good as any other currently available in a smartphone but without having to make a bulbous outcrop on the back of the phone. It’s extremely light but not made out of flimsy plastic.
And on top of all that, it’s, without question, the most stylish phone on the market; reminiscent of a high end watch or piece of jewelry. Are there other phones with bigger screens? Sure. You also can’t use them with one hand. Is there a thinner phone on the market? Yep, at least in part of the phone. It also comes with a huge wart of a camera. A lighter phone? Indeed , made of a cheap feeling plastic. The iPhone 5 is the complete package: thin, light, gorgeous screen, great camera, and sexy.
Apple takes its time when deciding which technologies are right for their devices. At the same time, they continually push the envelope when it comes to technology they control. This has never been more apparent than in the newest iPhone.
LTE has been part of the smartphone world for nearly two years. This ridiculously fast cellular standard allows for near instantaneous page loading and song downloading. On the surface, this sounds like something Apple should have introduced as soon as possible. But there’s always been a trade off. LTE equipped phones have notoriously poor battery life. In fact, one of the many reasons android and Windows phones have been ballooning in screen size is to accommodate larger batteries for the power hungry LTE chips. Apple was unwilling to make this compromise. By waiting till the technology evolved, Apple is now capable of adding LTE to the iPhone 5 while keeping the phone thin and light. They have also managed to harness the power of LTE without sacrificing any of the iPhone’s great battery life.
On the other hand, Apple controls it’s own processor design. The iPhone has always done more with less in terms of processor speed. But with the iPhone 5, they’ve taken it a step (or two) further. The processor inside the new iPhone is a completely custom architecture. Whereas other companies use standardized chips coming from Intel or based on standard ARM designs, Apple makes it’s own design. The result is a chip faster and more power efficient than any other chip in the mobile sector. In fact, the iPhone 5 is more powerful than Apple laptops from 5 years ago. It is the most powerful pocket computer on the planet.
Much Ado About Nothing
Without fail, there is always something for the media and technorati to latch onto as the downfall of the iPhone and Apple. This year it’s Maps. Much has been said as to the reasons behind Apple dumping Google for it’s own mapping service. What it boils down to is competition. Apple wanted to add more functionality to Maps. Turn by Turn navigation and vector scaling (faster loading) map tiles were musts for the newest iPhone. And while turn by turn and other features exist on android phones, Google was unwilling to let Apple utilize those features in the existing Maps application. Could Apple have kept Google Maps AND introduced their own? Sure. But where’s the fun in that? By cutting Google out of iOS, they have essentially taken $2 Billion in revenue away from Google in a single software update.
Apple’s new Maps app is entirely driven by Apple. And no, it’s not perfect. Google has been developing it’s mapping data for more than 7 years. They have hundreds of millions of businesses in their database. Apple is now on day 10. But even in those 10 days it’s gotten better. Some have pointed out the inaccuracies as if they were cause to shut the entire service down. In reality, most people won’t notice. Even Google maps has issues finding certain places from time to time. If the new Apple maps gives you a bad location or the wrong directions, just send in a report from the Maps app. It will help grow the platform and improve it.
Real world testing by ApplEvangelist has only unearthed two issues. One was inaccurate directions (to an Apple Store no less) and a missing business location. With a couple of taps, we reported the issues to Apple and I’m sure they will be added to their database soon. The Maps are beautifully rendered and clean to look at. They load quickly and require no reloading when you zoom in or out. Traffic information is getting better each and every day and we can’t tell you how great it is to have accident reports right on the Maps app. With one tap you can see where an accident is and which lanes it’s blocking. Turn by turn with Siri integration is phenomenal and you have the added peace of mind that Google isn’t tracking your location.
What about everything else? We’re already at 1300 words so we’ll make this quick:
Siri is better. It now can access sport scores, movie times, open apps, and reserve a table at a restaurant.
Facebook joins Twitter baked into the OS. You can now post to Facebook using Siri or the notification center. Contacts and calendars can be synced as well.
Every App you have on your current iOS device will work, even on the larger screen.
Movies and games look great without the letter boxing found on earlier iPhone models.
The new Do Not Disturb feature allows you to silence notifications while you sleep or are in a meeting.
Panorama mode on the camera works flawlessly and is so simple.
You can now simultaneously take still images while shooting a video with the phone.
The new Lightning Dock connector is ridiculously small and easy to insert even in the dark (it’s reversible).
iCloud makes it so easy to set up a new phone. Literally only took 2 minutes to activate our new phones and have all our settings, contacts, calendar entries, texts, etc restored from our old devices.
You can now have any iMessage, regardless of whether it’s sent to your phone number or email address, show up on your other devices. We now receive texts to our phone number on our iPad and Mac. Such a great feature.
Put It All Together
In the end, it’s a much better iPhone. It’s new, yet familiar. Comfortable but cutting edge. Nothing has changed about an already solid operating system. It’s still immensely powerful and highly intuitive. It’s the most sophisticated phone on the market and the sexiest phone around.
Should you upgrade? We upgraded from a 4S because we wanted faster LTE speeds, larger screen, and the hottest phone available. But if that’s not important to you, everything else is available in the iOS 6 update. However, you’ll notice an amazing difference if upgrading from an iPhone 4 or lower. And once you do, you’ll never know how you ever lived without it.