Apple Iphone 5 review

Redesign yields the thinnest, lightest Iphone yet

Product Iphone 5
Specifications A6 dual-core processor, 4in 1136x640 326ppi Retina display, 16GB/32GB/64GB internal storage, 8MP rear-facing Isight camera, 1.2MP front-facing camera, GSM/EDGE/HSPA+/HSDPA/LTE 4G connectivity, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi on 2.4GHz and 5GHz, Bluetooth 4, GPS, 8-pin connector and headphone jack ports, Apple IOS 6 operating system, 124x59x7.6mm, 112g
Price £529 to £699 SIM free

MOBILE DEVICE DESIGNER Apple released its latest Iphone last week and managed to shift over five million units in its first weekend. The Iphone 5 represents a major design overhaul for the Apple smartphone, which has resulted in the thinnest, lightest model with the largest screen yet.


The first thing we noticed about the Iphone 5 was its longer body compared to previous models. The Iphone 5 measures 124x59x7.6mm (below right) compared to the Iphone 4S (below left) at 115x59x9mm. The back of the Iphone 5 is housed in an aluminium casing, with glass inlays at the top and bottom of the handset.

The new Iphone 5 feels slightly sharper in the hand than other smartphones with more rounded edges or plastic casings. This is due to the aluminium casing covering the sides as well as the back of the phone. On the Iphone 4S, the raised back is made of glass, which feels smoother.

However, the lighter weight of the new model at just 112g makes the Iphone 5 more comfortable to hold over long periods. This is significantly less than the Iphone 4S, which weighs 140g.

Around the outside of the Iphone 5, the power button remains on the top, but the headphone jack has been moved to the bottom, to the left of the microphone, speaker and connector port. The volume buttons remain on the left-hand side, while the SIM slot remains on the right.


To house the Iphone 5 in this thinner and lighter casing, Apple had to make some major changes to the internal components, which will impact present Iphone 4S owners wishing to upgrade. First, it has moved from a micro-SIM to nano-SIM, which is 44 percent smaller than the previous version, so you won't be able to just put your old SIM into the Iphone 5.

The connector has also been updated to a Lightning version, which has just eight pins, compared to 30 in the previous version. This means that Apple fans used to carrying around just one cable to charge up their Iphone and Ipad will need to start carrying both, and anyone who has invested in a charging dock will need to shell out for a 30-pin to 8-pin adaptor, sold by Apple for £25, although these won't be available until October according to the Apple UK online store.

Apple has gone with a new A6 processor for the Iphone 5, which it claims is up to twice as fast as the A5 chip but 22 per cent smaller. We noticed that even for general web browsing and opening apps, the Iphone 5 was always a shade quicker than the Iphone 4S.

Apple also said the A6 chip has souped up graphics that offer up to double the performance of the current A5 processor in the Iphone 4S. We played a few games on both phones, and noticed the game visuals were much clearer and brighter on the latest model, although we didn't notice a huge boost in smoothness, which we've never found to be a problem with the Iphone 4S.


Apple has redesigned the screen to integrate touch technology and make it thinner, again working towards the slimmer, lighter design.

According to the firm, it has removed a layer of the screen, so instead of a separate layer of touch electrodes sitting between display pixels, the pixels act as touch-sensing electrodes while displaying the image at the same time. What this means for the user is that the screen on the Iphone 5 has better colour saturation and a clearer, brighter display than on previous models.

The Iphone 5 features a 4in Retina display with 1136x640 resolution at 326ppi. The colours on web pages and video were bright and vibrant, while text was clean and crisp. The difference in display quality compared to the 3.5in Iphone 4S, with 960x640 resolution also at 326ppi, is noticeable even just looking at the app icons on the homescreen.

However, a clear difference is the longer screen size on the Iphone 5, taking it to a 16:9 aspect ratio from 1.5:1 on the Iphone 4S.

This means you can now fit an extra row of icons on the screen, an extra email in your inbox view, or an extra event in your calendar. We also liked that you can watch widescreen programmes without getting the black bars across the top and bottom of the display.


The Iphone 5 features an 8MP Isight rear-facing camera and a 1.2MP front-facing camera for Facetime. Video can be recorded at HD 1080p resolution at up to 30fps. The camera also features an LED flash, tap to focus and face detection, all carried over from the Iphone 4S. Photos taken on the Iphone 5 were of high quality, with vibrant colours and no fuzziness.

Apple Iphone 5 review

Photo taken on the Iphone 4S

Apple Iphone 5 review

Photo taken on the Iphone 5

There are two new additions to the camera that we found handy. One was being able to take a still photo while filming, just by clicking the camera button in the right-hand bottom corner of the screen. The other was the addition of a Panorama image tool, which lets users take wide angle shots by slowly panning the camera around. Panorama shots can be taken across 270 degrees, and we liked the fact that you could switch the direction of the shot, depending on whether you're right or left handed. This feature has been available on Android devices for a while, so it's nice to see Apple finally adding it to the Iphone.

Apple Iphone 5 review


The Iphone 5 comes with a new version of the IOS operating system, which doesn't add any major new features but has a few notable updates, aside from the Panorama feature noted above. The Safari web browser has been updated with an Icloud Tabs feature that lets you sync open tabs between IOS and Mac OS X devices, while users can now share photos with others via PhotoStream.

Apple has also added Passbook, a folder where you can store tickets, boarding passes and vouchers from any participating companies. This is location aware, so when you walk into a concert venue or airport, for example, unlocking your screen will immediately take you to your ticket to be scanned. There are only a limited number of supporting firms at present, including United Airlines and Imotel, but this should grow as more IOS 6 devices get into circulation.

More notable are the subtractions that Apple has made, which we found to be a big negative as an Iphone 4S user. Gone is the native Google Maps app, and in comes Apple Maps. While it has an impressive, but gimmicky 3D flyover feature, which lets you zoom in a small-scale model of about 40 major cities and landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, it was missing key landmarks such as Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road station during our tests, and also anyone living in more remote regions such as Cornwall will definitely need to find an alternative mapping tool, as we found out when attempting to use Apple Maps on the north coast of Cornwall last week.

Apple Iphone 5 review

Apple is encouraging users to use the Maps reporting tool to provide feedback about any missing locations, and said the Maps database is being added to continually.

Apple has also ditched another Google mainstay, the Youtube app, although iOS 6 users can still download a Youtube app from the App Store.

For a detailed review of the latest Apple mobile OS, please read our full IOS 6 review.

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