Welcome The New iPhone 5.
In our last segment we introduced the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 and talked briefly about its predecessors. In this article we’re going to focus on the new features of the iPhone 5, what current users have found and what future users can expect.
Current owners of iPhones or iPods will find unboxing the iPhone 5 is nothing new. After the longest shipping wait of your life — even if it arrives the next day — you will open a small white box and extract your iPhone 5. On power up you will be prompted to plug the new phone into your computer or connect to WiFi and follow the simple setup instructions.
The process is more or less the same via iTunes or iCloud. But if you’ve been using iCloud, Apple’s cloud based storage system, signing in with your iTunes username and password and allow iPhone to download your settings, data and updated Apps from the web. That last bit is the real perk. Syncing via iTunes will load your Apps as they are, whereas loading from the web downloads your Apps from iTunes in their most current version. But be warned, while your phone will be usable right away the download can be a long process even connected to good WiFi.
Less Weight. More Stuff!
Out of the box impressions from most users of previous model iPhones have been unanimous in that the first thing you notice is now much lighter and thinner the new iPhone 5 is. Weighting in a only 112 grams the iPhone 5 almost feels like it’s floating in your hand. The new slim design also features slightly bevelled edges that, myself and a few other users have noticed, don’t dig into your palm nearly as much as the 4 series iPhones during prolonged device operation.
Once your data and Apps have been transferred either from iTunes or iCloud you’re ready to begin using your new iPhone 5. Users upgrading from previous iPhones are again in for a treat — the taller four inch Retina display allows for an extra row of Apps on each screen. Valuable if, like myself, you have a hard time deciding which Apps should be given a coveted position on your home screen!
It’s Easy On The Eyes Too.
The benefits of the new taller Retina display don’t end with an extra row of Apps. Apple’s Calendar App now displays more information about your appointments. Safari can display more of the web. Longer (or more) message previews can be seen in Mail. And video Apps like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube can now display HD content in native 16:9 Retina resolution.
If you don’t speak display resolutions, consider this: Apple’s Retina display technology creates an image by delivering 326 pixels (dots of colored light found in all screens) per inch, while the human eye can only see 300 pixels per inch. Initially that may seem counter intuitive, but it means the iPhone 4, 4S, 5 screens are as clear as the world around you! Far beyond High Definition. Additionally the 16:9 aspect ratio is the same as movie theaters, Blue Ray movies and your HDTV.
In The Information Age, Bandwidth Is King.
Delivering all that high definition content is going to require some serious bandwidth. Luckily the iPhone 5 now features super fast 2.4 and 5Ghz 802.11n WiFi. Translated from geek that means that the iPhone 5 has the fastest WiFi found in a mobile device (as of this writing). Simply put the networking speeds are amazingly fast — watching HD video or transferring large files via the network is a breeze.
Coupled with the increased WiFi speed is the new iPhone 5’s new LTE cellular data capability. LTE offers a much faster potential cellular data speed than either GSM (Verizon) or CDMA (AT&T, T-Mobile) 3G networks. I say “potentially” because LTE 4G network coverage is still pretty spotty. In places where 4G isn’t available (again, most of North America) the iPhone will use 3G or whatever data is available — 4G isn’t required, it’s just better.
The World Is Your Calling Area.
This LTE connection also frees us up from being locked in with a specific carrier. In previous iPhone models, as well as nearly all other phones, one would buy an iPhone for Verizon or AT&T/T-Mobile specifically. Verizon’s network runs GSM and AT&T runs CDMA. Other U.S. carriers use one or the other with GSM being the most popular in the Wyoming area with Verizon and Union Wireless. This difference in cellular networks means a Verizon GSM phone is incapable of seeing, let alone connecting to, a CDMA signal and vice versa. With LTE technology the iPhone 5 can connect to either major carrier type! Phones with this ability are commonly known as “World Phones” (or “wow, that’s expensive”) as they can be set up stateside with your carrier of choice then flown over the big water and used on whatever European carrier you prefer. Prefect for world travelers!
While you’re doing all that traveling you’ll be glad of the iPhone 5’s aforementioned weight reduction. You might, however, be worried about durability. Normally this would be a concern, light materials often mean less sturdy construction, yet iPhone 5’s new unibody construction has made it more durable than ever. The iPhone 5 also features an anodized aluminum back, making it considerably more durable than the crack-prone glass backs of iPhone 4 and 4S. The phone just feels solid!
Flickr’s Most Used Camera Gets An Upgrade.
As mentioned above the iPhone 5 with iOS 6 feature a new panoramic picture option allowing a user to take extremely wide shots simply by turning the phone. These images are made all the more beautiful by the iPhone 5’s new 8-megapixel optically stabilized camera. iPhone 4S owners can also take panorama shots but may notice the camera App’s side to side movement is less fluid and more segmented as it moves from image edge to image edge stitching your panorama together. We iPhone 4 users however, will have to make due with a third party panorama App from iTunes; I would suggest Camera+, Pro Camera, or Microsoft’s Photosynth.
The speed and quality of the iPhone 5 camera alone offer solid reasons to consider making it your next phone. With image stabilization for both still and moving pictures the backside camera the iPhone 5 is one of the best of any mobile device. And with the exception of a few overly brick-like Android phones the 8 mega pixel camera in the iPhone 5 is one of the best available in a phone.
Video Calling Captain Kirk Wishes He Had.
The iPhone 5, like its fourth germination predecessors, sports a fancy forward facing FaceTime camera deigned for WiFi enabled video calling.This has easily been one of my favorite features — few things make it feel like the future than video calling someone and showing them what you’re talking about. And as an IT guy, like yours I imagine, my first device loyalty is to whatever makes my life feel the most like Star Trek!
Enter the iPhone 5’s new HD front facing iSight camera. Previous versions of iPhone video calling, while cool, were low quality, often choppy and restricted to WiFi hotspots. With iPhone 5 and iOS 6 you can make video calls over cellular (if your carrier allows it and you data plan can afford it) but the with the better optics and increased WiFi/LTE speeds the video quality is top notch. Finally a video calling solution in a hand held device that’s as good as, if not better than, Skype.
Cables, Converters and EarPods Oh My!
The last major update to talk about in this overview is the new doc connector. In place the traditional wide 30-pin connector previous iPhones, iPads and iPods used the iPhone 5 now uses an amazingly small (seriously, the connector is barely wider than the cable) Lightening connector. The Lightening cable is tiny, durable and can be plugged in either side up — no more flipping cables until they fit! The downside to the new sleek connector is that your old docs, speakers, and iPhone peripherals will no longer be able to physically connect to the iPhone 5. Fortunately, there area number of third party hardware developers feverishly building connector adapters, a short review of two of the more popular can be found here: http://www.gottabemobile.com/2012/09/12/iphone-5-dock-connector-adapters-start-at-29/
While we’re thinking about cables and connectors we should talk about the new Apple EarPods that come with the iPhone 5. You can also find them at any electronics retailer that sells Apple equipment. The EarPods are very similar to the old style white ear buds that we’re all used to seeing. However, they’ve been redesigned from the ground up to be more accommodating to your ear while allowing for deeper base and more clear mid to high range sound. The reviews are mixed but most people seem to agree that the newly designed air flow feature allows for a less ear-plug like fit and a more rich sound. Ultimately though this one’s up to you, but thankfully there are no shortages of third party head phones designed for the iPhone. I’ve been using the new iPhone ear pods for about a week now and the sound quality is nautically be better as is the call quality. The new ear pods fit nicely in my ear, but as with previous versions it’s hard to shake the feeling like they are slipping out. That said I’ve yet to have the ear pods actually fall out of my head.
Wrapping Up A New iPhone 5 (with a bow even!)
We’ve talked at some length about the new features of the iPhone 5 and I hope you’ve found it useful. Concluding the review I’d like to add that using the device really is a wonderful experience. The phone fits in your hand perfectly, it’s amazingly responsive and feature packed, but perhaps most importantly it’s secure. Like all of Apple’s iOS devices the iPhone 5 has the benefit of not only the largest App store in the world but also the most carefully monitored. While some Apps might not meet your standards, they all meet Apple’s Quality Control and Security standards. iPhone 5, iOS 6 and the iTunes App Store will ensure that you have the best and safest mobile user experience possible. You simply won’t find Apps that steal data or change your phones settings, much less infect or slow down your device — unlike some other mobile stores out there. The iPhone has enjoyed the highest customer satisfaction reviews and the lowest return rates of any mobile device since its creation for a reason!
So go try one out or pull the trigger on one from your cell carrier, Apple.com or your local electronics shop. You won’t be disappointed — but your IT guy might be more than a bit jealous!
If you’re still not sure, don’t fret, we’ve got two more sections coming up. Next time, iOS 6!
~ Aaron Perrell
IT Consultant from Laramie