iPhone 5: The Best Yet

Tara Richelle Hopkins, Thinking Too MuchOkay, here it is, my review on the iPhone 5 now that I have had the chance to hold it in my hands. I have had my new phone for about a day now and I LOVE it.The iPhone 5 lives up to its looks in the sense that it’s the best iPhone yet. It’s also the biggest overhaul to the line since the release of the 3G about four years ago. Compared to other smartphones, however, it’s more of a catch-up move. The iPhone has a winning recipe already, and Apple’s upgrades are careful and thoughtful. Beyond the beauty and thinness of it, there are no new hardware features you can’t get with other phones. For instance, the screen is bigger, but not too big. It’s the first time Apple is increasing the screen size of the phone, from a diagonal of 3.5 inches to one of four inches. The width has stayed the same, so the entire increase has come from making the screen taller.Other smartphone makers have increased their screen sizes in the last few years, after realizing that a big screen is something customers have become accustomed to. The taller screen means that third-party apps will be hemmed in by black bars until the developers get around to updating them for the new dimensions. It is annoying, but I know it is just minor and not temporary. The other major upgrade in the iPhone 5 is that it now comes with the ability to connect to “LTE” networks in the U.S., Canada, and a few other countries. These are the latest, fastest data networks, and they’ll make a huge difference, at least for Sprint and Verizon customers, who have been stuck on the relatively slow, older networks of those carriers (though Sprint customers will be hard pressed to find any LTE towers — the company has just started building out the network.) For AT&T customers, the difference will be noticeable but not as big, although I have seen a huge difference (I get 4G in places I used to not get it).But Apple has actually made the phone considerably thinner while keeping the stated battery life at an impressive eight hours of LTE usage (I did not have enough time with the phone to test this).This, along with obsessive attention to fit and finish, makes for an exquisitely tight, light phone that seems perfect for the hand. The iPhone 4 and 4s suddenly look chunky. The phone is really too pretty to cover with a case, but knowing my luck I got one anyways. The glass on most of the back has been replaced with matte aluminum, which will probably scratch and wear, but it should be less fragile than the notoriously breakage-prone backs on the 4 and 4s.One victim of the slimmed-down body is the old connection port. It was just too big to survive. Apple has replaced it with a much smaller port it calls “Lightning.” This means the iPhone 5 won’t fit into your docks. Old charging cables won’t work, either. You’ll have to buy an overpriced $29 adapter from Apple or wait for knockoffs. I’m just going to wait. I don’t use a dock anyways. There’s something else that now has a deeper, more secure fit: the new earbuds. These “EarPods” are completely redesigned. Instead of broad, round speakers, they have small, oval outlets that beam sound into the ear canal. The sound quality is outstanding. They can be bought separately for $29, and this time, that price tag looks modest. I couldn’t begin to explain how great the sound quality is. I really love how they are built to where you can hear only the music and nothing else around you. Overall, I love it and I’m glad I made the decision to upgrade. It was money well spent.