My 2 weeks with Apple’s iPhone 5. I can’t believe how shabby my old iPhone 4S feels now…

The moment the iPhone 5 was announced, I decided to camp out for it. Without a pre-order in place, I waited in line for over 12 hours  for the new handset and after spending two weeks with it, I have to say that it was completely worth it.

Like many of you,  I saw the Apple’s new smartphone  launch event and feared iPhone 5  would be disappointing. It isn’t. After holding and playing around with the device, you truly appreciate the incredible engineering and fantastic design of iPhone 5.  The new handset is really a work of art and a huge improvement over the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Hardware and Design

Since the iPhone 3G, I have purchased every single iPhone to date. From the 3G to 3GS, it wasn’t a significant upgrade, but from the iPhone 3GS to 4, it was a jaw dropping experience. However, when I went from the iPhone 4 to the 4S, it felt very mediocre. I once again experienced a jaw dropping experience when I upgraded from the iPhone 4S to 5.

I was  really happy to notice that the glass back had been replaced with metal. My iPhone 5 feels so much more durable now! Heck, I have even dropped it a few times, and nothing happened. What’s more, iPhone 5 is literally featherweight. When I first picked it up, I honestly thought it was going to fly out of my hand. However, the weight of the latest iPhone has grown on me. Once in a while, I’ll pick up my old iPhone 4S, and boy, that device sure feels bulky to use and hold. I’m constantly amazed by the thinner form factor and the amount of engineering and technology Apple has been able to fit into such a small device.

A major change that Apple made with the introduction of this iPhone is the screen size. And they added a new 4” display without compromising one hand usability of the device. The usability part isn’t talked about much, but it is something you’ll appreciate in real life. Throughout my daily chores, I have found the larger screen to be extremely useful while browsing email, the web, and using apps. Being able to see more content is just great and watching video on this device is truly a bliss. When I look back at my iPhone 4S’s 3.5″ display, it is horrifying. It feels extremely small and content on screen feels squeezed. You have to wonder how iPhone owners tolerated such a small display size when 4” smartphones were available way before the iPhone 5.

Oh yes, and while talking on the phone you can actually understand what a  person on the other side is saying! The speaker has been much improved and is incredibly loud.

Speed and Battery

Holy cow, the iPhone 5 is blazing FAST! The processor in this phone is twice as fast and the difference in speed is very clear when I compare it to my iPhone 4S. Loading apps is quick, switching through multiple apps is very snappy, there’s no lag while content is being loaded.  And taking photos on the fly is much easier on iPhone 5-the camera opens way faster than on  4S. Since Apple added LTE to iPhone 5, data connectivity is much faster, too. While using it on AT&T’s LTE network in the Bay Area, I achieved speeds of 50 megabits per second for downloads and a little over 15 megabits per second for uploads. Every time I use LTE on this device, it makes me realize how slow my home internet connection is! I was a bit circumspect about AT&T’s LTE network in the Bay Area since official coverage seemed so limited, but it seems that their coverage map is a lie in a good way. My iPhone 5 gets LTE signal almost everywhere.

Battery life on the iPhone 4S was terrible – it barely lasted even half a day on my average use. However, Apple has clearly improved the battery on iPhone 5. Even though they are  one of the last smartphone makers to add LTE, they’ve included it without compromising battery life on the device. Throughout my testing, I found that the iPhone 5’s battery on LTE is incredibly difficult to drain and I easily get a day’s worth of heavy use (web browsing, lots of emailing and Twitter, bluetooth streaming, music playback, and using all sorts of apps.) In addition, this iPhone does not get flaming hot like the iPhone 4S did. For most people, the iPhone 5’s battery would easily last a day without recharging.

Overall, the speed and battery life performance of this iPhone puts the iPhone 4S to shame.

Maps and iOS 6

Let’s face it. iOS 6’s Maps are nowhere as good as Google Maps, but when I use the Maps app in the Bay Area, it works great. Turn-by-turn directions loads in a jiffy and POI data is pretty accurate. In fact, in iOS 6 Maps, there is no issue of sponsored results. 3D maps and the flyover feature is a nice touch too. It is also reported that iOS 6 Maps uses much less data versus Google Maps.

There are over 200 new features in iOS 6. My favorite one is the new panorama mode. iPhone 5 takes some incredible panoramas and the quality of them is spectacular. Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, has been made much faster. I am easily able to look-up movies, sport scores, and other inquiries. In addition, the virtual assistant now allows you to dictate and post Facebook status messages and tweets. Users can also share posts to Facebook via the new integration. I found that Siri has been much improved on the iPhone 5 versus the iPhone 4S. It actually understands me now and provides accurate results.

In its 6th generation, iOS got even better and continues to provide a polished user experience and solid ecosystem.

Bottom Line

After using the iPhone 5 for nearly two weeks, it is tough to go back to any of the other previous iPhones I own. If you have an iPhone 4 or an earlier model with upgrade eligibility, upgrading to the iPhone 5 is a no brainer.

Author: Parth Dhebar

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  • Ed

    Me I’m very disappointed with iPhone 5 battery life. It barely lasts half a day with light use (checking some emails, a bit of browsing). The phone does nothing and the battery goes down. If I disable Cellular Data, it’s much better, but that’s the whole point for this new phone. Besides that, I like this new phone, but I don’t just want to look at it. I want to be able to use it! Hopefully it’s a software problem.

  • iHater

    ok now i can definitively cancel my RSS subscripion of unwierd view, i was missing a recension from an apple-fanboy… tnx. really.

  • Dennis McDonald

    Half a day on the 4s battery? Definitely not my experience.

  • kabir

    Iphone 5 is rubbish scratches for fun and I’m a apple fan…why do you people lie and suck apples ass honest proper losers

  • John

    Are you serious? Half day of battery life on the 4s? Maybe you had one of those copy cat Chinese iPhone because with my 4s I can go all day and some times almost 2 days using the web a lot. Just because you have the 5 you don’t have to exaggerate with the 4s. Anyway is not such a jaw dropping experience like you are saying.

  • Brian

    looks like your jaw kinda got very sensitive and drops too easily now. take a look at Galaxy note 2 when it comes out and you won’t find your jaw ever again

  • no spam

    I call Baloney on the battery life. You guys are just protecting Apple as a special interest group who demos their phones for good reviews.

    It’s time to show the public just what everyone is so frustrated about and why I’m returning my iPhone 5:

  • Parth Dhebar

    Have you tried restoring the device as new?

  • Felicious1908

    My experience is on par with the writer. I use my phone for both work and personal use and I charge once a day. This is my first iPhone and so far, pretty satisfied with it.

  • applemaster

    my name is iphone 5 and im garbage, take me out please.

  • Sanoj

    “When I look back at my iPhone 4S’s 3.5? display, it is horrifying. It feels extremely small and content on screen feels squeezed. You have to wonder how iPhone owners tolerated such a small display size when 4” smartphones were available way before the iPhone 5.”

    That’s how I feel when holding the iPhone 5 since my screen i 4.8″, let’s just face it. I thank you Apple for getting the stone that is smartphones in motion but it seems that your part is done…

  • Sanoj

    Get an Galaxy S3 with a 2100mA battery and you can even change battery and have a spare one for those days with very very heavy usage

  • stoli89

    Anyone willing to camp out 12 hours for a phone can’t be trusted with an unbiased review.