Apple iPhone 5: What reviewers are saying

Apple’s iPhone 5 launch Wednesday unveiled an iPhone that has a larger screen but is thinner and lighter than any iPhone in the company’s history.

Those who got some brief time with the iPhone 5 in San Francisco after the presentation are almost completely unanimous in their assessment: There are lots of little changes that make the iPhone 5, overall, a much better phone.

More tech stories

Because shark bites are the worst

A man explains the clever wet suits he designed to deter shark attacks.

Our absurd shortage of traffic lights

Our absurd shortage of traffic lights

Our world’s roads are far too chaotic, and more traffic lights could easily fix that.

Hands off the steering wheel

Hands off the steering wheel

Self-driving cars are navigating their way to the consumer mainstream.

No one has complaints about the phone itself from the brief time they’ve spent with it. Wired’s Christina Bonnington said the most noticeable difference is the phone’s weight — or rather, the lack thereof.

“After years using the 4/4S form factor, I found the weight loss completely surprising, especially given the increased size,” she wrote. “It’s actually lighter than plasticky Samsung phones like the Galaxy S III, yet it doesn’t feel cheap.”

Others mentioned that the phone has great “hand-feel” that they found difficult to describe.

“It always shocks me how much a simple materials change makes something feel, and it's always impossible to convey these differences,” wrote Anand Lal Shimpi and Brian Klug of AnandTech. “But the lighter and thinner form factor is very perceptible. The 4 and 4S always felt solid, the 5 moves to a much more ethereal form, and the lightness almost makes it feel like a hollow metal box.”

Shimpi and Klug also noted the performance of the A6 chip, which they said “noticeably improved” how well the phone runs. They couldn’t benchmark the phone at all, but found they could use Apple’s new Maps app and look at 3D buildings without dropping any frames.

Another big difference that drew a lot of pixels was the screen, which drives the phone’s taller form factor, and is supposed to be a “perfect fit” for HD video, according to The New York Times’s David Pogue. And having an added row for icons, Pogue said, is a welcome addition.

TechCrunch reviewer John Biggs said that the screen is the “real draw here” and while he’s reserving final judgement, it seems that “if you’re looking for something in the sweet spot between monsters like the Galaxy S III and the arguably bordering-on-too-small (at this point) iPhone 4, this may be a good compromise.”

Over at CNET, reviewers Kent German and Scott Stein said the camera has a new dynamic light mode that will let you launch photo apps twice as quickly, and they particularly appreciated the additional ability to take photos while you shoot video.

One pain point here that many reviewers identified: the new dock connector. Yes, it makes all of the thin, light, big-screened goodness in the iPhone possible but it also means that, if you upgrade, all those cases and accessories you’ve collected over the years no longer fit.

Not only that, but Slashgear reported Thursday morning that there are some accessories that won’t work with the $29 adapter that Apple is selling to settle complaints about being backward-compatible. Apple’s site for the product says specifically that “Some 30-pin accessories are not supported” and that Video and iPod Out, designed to let iPods work with car stereo systems, will also not work with the new adapter.

Related stories:

Slate: No, This Is Not the Best iPhone Ever

Apple’s iPhone 5: Bigger, faster and slimmer

GRAPHIC: How does the new iPhone 5 stack up against its predecessor, the iPhone 4s, and its rivals?

Event blog: Apple’s big event — larger, lighter iPhone 5 unveiled

Apple reveals iPhone 5: But is it innovative?

Apple’s iPhone 5 : What’s new

 
Read what others are saying