Apple’s iPhone 5: Review Roundup

September 19, 2012

A handful of news sites have spent some quality time with the iPhone 5 and the verdict is in: The iPhone 5 is — to pull words from the mouths of reviewers — “feather-light,” “superior” and “every bit the device that people were asking for,” but not without its flaws.

Here’s a rundown of the reviews.

Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal: Mossberg’s own “quick take” on the iPhone is that, “the world’s most popular smartphone becomes significantly faster, thinner and lighter this week, while gaining a larger, 4-inch screen—all without giving up battery life, comfort in the hand and high-quality construction.”

Still, he said, the biggest drawback to the phone is the new Maps app. Citing a lack of information on public transit routes and an overall “emptier” map that doesn’t have Google’s Street View feature, Mossberg said that overall, Apple’s map program is a “step backward” from Google’s.

He still recommends the product and says it’s an “excellent choice” and that Apple has made a great product (the iPhone) even better, overall.

David Pogue, The New York Times: Pogue includes mention of a quibble in his headline, which turns out to be the iPhone’s new dock connector. It’s not that he has a problem with the performance — “It’s the very model of a modern major connector,” he quips — but he has a problem with the fact that it doesn’t fit into any current accessories.

With that quibble aside, though, Pogue is enthusiastic about the phone. He says the iPhone 5 is zippy, has a camera that’s the “best ever put into a phone” and is so “light, tall and flat, it’s well on its way to becoming a bookmark.”

Edward Baig, USA Today: Baig says the iPhone 5 is “a winner that should keep Apple at the front of the smartphone pack,” and is particularly taken with the phone’s inclusion of LTE and its larger screen.

He also has a bone to pick with Apple over the dock connector, but said that this is something he and lots of consumers are probably willing to overlook. He also adds that Siri has “come a long way” from her first appearance in the iPhone 4S.

“People have always had lofty expectations for the iPhone 5, especially as the competition stiffens,” Baig writes. “In delivering a fast, attractive, LTE-capable and larger-screen handset, Apple has met those expectations with a gem.”

Rich Jaroslovksy, Bloomberg: Jaroslovsky starts by pushing back against the flurry of interest about the phone in his first paragraph, saying, “underneath all the hype, the iPhone 5 really is just a new smartphone. A terrific new smartphone.”

The iPhone 5 on LTE, he said, exceeds the battery life of the iPhone 4S on 3G, and concludes that while the iPhone 5 isn’t perfect, it’s the only “great” phone on the market right now.

Harry McCracken, Time: McCracken says that the iPhone 5 helps Apple keep its “mojo” and that it ups the level of polish on an already polished handset.

“The iPhone 5 is one terrific smartphone,” he writes. “Ignore the naysayers — even without any awesome technological breakthroughs, it’s a sizable improvement on the iPhone 4S. For many upgraders, LTE alone will be worth the price of admission.”

John Gruber, Daring Fireball: Gruber spends a good portion of the first part of his review trying to describe how nice the iPhone 5 feels, saying that the phone has a “premium feel” that is immediately apparent once you hold it.

Still, Gruber finds that the iPhone’s new screen is just a hair too big for him to reach the “back” button on his Internet browser, and said that while Apple has upped the screen in a smart way, “many long-time iPhone users” may complain that the phone is too big.

Jim Dalrymple, The Loop: Over at The Loop, Dalrymple has almost nothing but praise for the phone, concluding with the determination that he “can’t think of any good reason why anyone wouldn’t upgrade or purchase the iPhone 5.”

Every major component of the phone, he said, has been upgraded in some small but significant way and said that he’s sure that people will get used to the larger screen size soon.

MG Siegler, TechCrunch: “I won’t beat around the bush: it’s fantastic,” Siegler said. He said it almost feels fake, because it’s so light, and that it’s the “smartphone nearly perfected.”

Scott Stein, CNET: Stein breaks it down for you in three points — the phone’s redesign and faster network are a joy, but the phone lacks some of the features such as NFC that you can get from competitors. Still, overall, it’s the best iPhone to date.

Stein sums up the ho-hum reaction to the phone this way: “I don’t want much more in my smartphone. Sure, I’d love a new magical technology to sink my teeth into, but not at the expense of being useful. Right now, I’m not sure what that technology would even be.”

Tim Stevens, Engadget: Stevens has no complaints about the phone — “This is a hallmark of design. This is the one you’ve been waiting for,” he says — but does think the iOS is now beginning to show its age.

He also flagged that Apple’s app doesn’t have the same level of detail as Google’s, and feels the same way about Passbook — the company’s ticket app. He expects both of these, though, to get better.

“In general, iOS 6 has seen some nice nips and tucks where it needed it,” he said. “iCloud integration is tighter, Safari is better and the overall experience is more polished. But, it isn’t a major step forward in any regard.”

Related stories:

Apple stock closes above $700

Ideas@Innovations: Apple’s iPhone 5: Why we should heed the critics

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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