iPhone 5 Review

8.9

Daniel Bader

September 23, 2012 7:34 pm


There isn’t much to say about a new iPhone. In many ways, I could finish this review right now, as you’ve likely already made up your mind whether to buy one.

“If you like Apple products,” I’d say, “and you have the money, there is no reason to hold off. It’s a thinner, faster, better iPhone.” But then I’d caution you, too: “But don’t rush into the purchase. As opposed to last year, there are some real contenders out there. Android has picked up its game considerably, and then there’s the promise of Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10. What’s the hurry?”

The iPhone 5 is really the most iterative device Apple has ever released. It has no significant bump in camera quality, nor a new higher screen density, nor a considerably faster software experience (though that may change as apps are updated to support the new processor). There are two kinds of users this review will be tailored towards: those who already use and iPhone, and those who do not. In those two camps, there are those with older iPhones — 3GS and 4 — and those with the newer 4S. To users of Androids, Windows Phones or BlackBerries, it come as a shock to hear this, but Apple doesn’t need your business. They’d love to have it, but the most profitable company in the world is happy to sell its wares to millions of others who just want a phone to work, and work well.

Before we get into the heart of the argument, there are other things to discuss, like the iPhone 5 itself. Is it the phone to lure you out of smartphone fatigue? Let’s take a gander.

Design & Screen

The iPhone 5 is all about refinement. Whereas the 4 and 4S were huge leaps from the previous generation, eschewing plastic and chrome for stainless steel and glass, the iPhone 5 takes the well-worn design of its immediately predecessors and chisels away at the excess. The metal band that wound itself so separately around the glass frame is now wholly integrated into the iPhone 5 body, with chamfered, sloping edges that promise a mirror finish.

The precision at which these edges are cut is preposterous: Apple claims that each iPhone is fashioned to micron-level exactness, and the resulting feel in the hand is indeed superior to the 4S. Another reason for this is the weight: at 112g, it is 28g lighter than the 4S despite being taller by half an inch. Indeed, the iPhone 5 feels almost toy-like when you first pick it up; it’s only upon closely examining the confluence of its parts do you get an understanding of how minimal it all is. Apple has stripped away every millimetre of excess, culminating in the most pristine smartphone they’ve ever made.

It’s also more comfortable to hold than the iPhone 4 and 4S, largely due to the consolidation of the metal band into the base of the phone. No more scraping your thumb against sharp edges. Its lightness also brings longer usability without fatigue; the phone practically disappears when you hold it to your ear.

But we’d be remiss not to mention how it compares to other high-end devices. The Samsung Galaxy S III, ostensibly the iPhone’s biggest competition at the moment, feels more comfortable to cradle in one hand; its rounded plastic back may not be as aesthetically pleasing, but it provides for a more secure surface to hold. The iPhone’s new metallic back attracts fingerprints and scuffs more so than its legacy glass ever did, and we worry, especially with the black model, that scratches will too show easily.

Other positive changes are less noticeable but equally appreciated. The mute toggle, along with the volume stubs and power button, are slightly more recessed, blending better with the phone’s overall design. The home button, that constant source of mechanical frustration, has a more robust clicking mechanism which will hopefully hold up better over time.

The new 4-inch screen is initially awkward; the 16:9 ratio makes the iPhone 5 look almost comically tall, and takes a while to get used to. Practically, the extra half an inch of screen space is not currently well utilized; the multitasking menu is still only one row of four horizontally-oriented icons, for example. But you can now fit 16 app icons in a folder as opposed to twelve, and the home screen grid has increased to five rows from four. Reading web pages or emails shows more content (obviously) in portrait mode, while watching true widescreen video is more enjoyable as the aspect ratio matches the source.

The pixel density, 326ppi, is unchanged from the iPhone 4 and 4S. This is still one of the best screens on the market, but unlike the 4S, which was miles ahead of most of the competition not only in sharpness but colour saturation, viewing angles and brightness, Android manufacturers caught up to Apple in a big way in 2012. From the HTC One X to the Motorola ATRIX HD, 2012 has been the year of 300+ppi displays, and in some ways there is nothing overly impressive about the Retina display anymore. Yes, the colour saturation is significantly better than on last year’s model, and there is no gap between the glass and the LCD itself, lending it a paper-like quality, but these these accomplishments were awarded to HTC all the way back in April. Instead, the iPhone 5 screen is merely great and competitive, no longer in a class of its own. Oh, how a year can change things.

Visibility in sunlight is not significantly improved over the iPhone 4S, though the screen is less prone to glare than its predecessor. Compared to the Galaxy S III, the iPhone 5 does indeed have better colour saturation at full brightness, though the delta is minor. Neither phone could be said to be “usable” in direct sunlight, even at full brightness.

Ultimately, the iPhone 5′s evolutionary design is going to stoke its loudest criticism — that is, until you hold it in your hand. No other company on the planet designs and manufacturers phones with the same minute care and craftsmanship as Apple right now. The iPhone 5 is beautiful equally because of what it has — glass, aluminum, precision — as what it doesn’t have. The company has shed almost every morsel of “flesh” from this body, and what’s left is lean and capable.

 

Performance

There is no doubt that this iPhone is significantly faster than the 4S, but it’s difficult to detect how much faster because iOS rarely slows down. Unlike Android, which has benefited greatly from a hardware-accelerated homescreen, iOS has always had this benefit. The foreground task take precedence, and the OS limits what happens in the background. This ensures that, most of the time, the OS performs optimally, consistently and without slowdown.

But the A6 chip inside the iPhone 5 is custom-made by Apple to be extremely powerful, and power-efficient. It posts the best Javascript scores across any device on any platform; its three-core graphics processor is one of the fastest on the market, rivalling and in some cases surpassing the quad-core Exynos 4 processor of the international Samsung Galaxy S III. Apps load noticeably faster, though the 4S was never slow. In other words, the phone feels moderately faster in almost every way. Every way, except one.

Camera shots are now significantly faster than on the 4S. Apple didn’t do it justice when it boasted a 40% increase over its predecessor: the iPhone 5 shutter is practically instantaneous. But again, Android devices have caught up to the iPhone in shutter speed, and the results don’t seem as remarkable as they might if the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S III didn’t exist. But they do, and we need to look at other things then to gauge just how much faster the phone is compared to its predecessor.

The biggest bellwether, besides those benchmarks which rarely hone in on real-world performance, is app loading times. Compared to the 4S, the iPhone 5 improves loading times in apps and games by as much as 40%. On games with lots of assets such as high-resolution textures and 3D environments, the difference is very noticeable. Performance inside games is slightly better, but I’d imagine we’ll have to wait a few weeks for games to be released to take advantage of the superior rendering capabilities of the PowerVR SGX543MP3 GPU.

One area that is quizzically not as smooth is typing. The iPhone 5 seems to miss a lot of key presses, though it could be due to the taller screen forcing me to misplace my thumbs. I’ve noticed other users complaining of it, too, so I’m not alone in this complaint.

Camera

The iPhone 5 camera is, simply, amazing. We haven’t had a chance to compare it to the new Lumia 920 just yet, but Apple has made some significant improvements to colour accuracy and noise suppression in its new device.

Low-light photos have received the biggest upgrade here. As you can see, comparing the iPhone 5 to the 4S depicts the same scene with the same external lighting very differently. This is due to some clever processing that produces a slightly smaller image — 4MP as opposed to 8 — in darker locations, and uses the data from multiple pixels to obtain a clearer, brighter image. This process is called interpolation and is the core tenet of Nokia’s PureView 808.

What this means is that despite a slightly smaller file size, shots taken in low light are considerable more usable than on the 4S. Regular daylight shots, or ones taken with the flash, are still excellent, but don’t show the same improvements as the 4S was to the 4. In fact, we’d say that this camera is only slightly better than the 4S in most cases, and is matched by the Galaxy S III and One X in many ways. Except one.

The iPhone 5 takes the best macro shots of any smartphone I’ve ever used. It’s able to easily lock onto a foreground target and capture a shocking amount of detail from that little sensor.


Also significantly improved over last year’s model is the 1080p video. While detail is largely the same as the 4S, image stabilization has been boosted, and the results look less like a smartphone and more like a digital camera. It’s a subtle but desirable effect, and will help amateur videographers create decent material on their smartphone. Again, not a huge improvement over last year, but the iPhone 5 captures the best 1080p video of any device on the market right now. We’ll have to see what the Lumia 920 brings when it’s released later this year.

The iPhone 5 also has better white balance than its predecessor. As you can see from the shot above, the colours are much more accurate; the sensor does not wash out the subtle blues in the middle white area. Greens and yellows are also not as rambunctious; the tones are much more even.

The front-facing camera on the new iPhone is now 1.2MP and can be used to connect to people with FaceTime over the cellular network. Compared to the terrible VGA camera on the 4 and 4S, this is a huge step up, though it likely won’t be used for much else than capturing vanity shots. Let’s be realistic, people.

Software

iOS 6 is neither a significant feature jump from iOS 5, nor is it the staid and boring operating system many people are accusing it of being.

There is no disputing that the iPhone 5 is a gorgeous, well-engineered piece of technology. It’s just so self-contained, sturdy. But iOS looks the same as it did in 2007, and despite an extra row of icons and a few new built-in apps, it seems that the magic has slipped away. There are no drastic introductions here like copy-paste (iOS 3), multitasking (iOS 4), notification centre (iOS 5); this is a clear iterative improvement over its predecessors, and some users will be disappointed by this.

But Apple’s ecosystem is as strong as ever: Siri is much more capable this year than last. Canadians benefit from location services, so you can search for restaurants and landmarks inside many major cities. Siri can open apps, inform you of sports scores, even joke with you. The problem is that there is no way to use the service without voice, and there are many, many places in which voice is no appropriate to use. I’d love to be able to ask Siri a question, say inside Spotlight, and have it spit out an answer to me in written form. Alas, Apple believes voice is triumphant at this point.

And then there is the new Maps application, which is possibly the most divisive addition to the Apple ecosystem in a long time. We’ll likely never know why Apple launched a service so hindered by its own lack of data; it could have saved it for another year and avoided this whole distraction.

Apple has assured us that the Maps application will improve over time. But at this time, its results are infuriatingly inconsistent. At times, and in certain parts of Canada, the information is perfect. We have detailed maps down to the metre for large cities like Toronto. The new turn-by-turn navigation system is amazing, and has never sent me hurtling into the river or even given me an incorrect route. But the lack of transit directions, along with vexingly strange search results, is a very un-Apple realitty. There’s no doubt that the company would have loved to bring a product to market that rivalled, and indeed exceeded, Google’s Maps for quality and beauty on day one. But the reality is that Google has been offering maps, in both desktop and mobile forms, for nearly 10 years. That’s a lot of data that Apple doesn’t have, and they’ve built a fairly robust and feature-complete 1.0 product.

To that end, I spent a lot of time this summer testing out Maps on both an iPhone 4S and, since Friday, an iPhone 5. Until September 19th, with the public release of iOS 6, I was unaware of just how incomplete Apple’s mapping data was. That’s because I only used Apple Maps in big cities — namely New York and Toronto — and their surrounding areas, both of which have been painstakingly detailed by the company. Every address, every nook, I requested location data for was present. Yes, there were some anomalies, but Google Maps also spits out a bad result every once in a while. I’m not trying to defend the product — it’s really, really bad in some areas — but if you live in a big Canadian city like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or Calgary, you won’t really miss Google Maps. But bring a backup when you’re traversing through more rural areas — just in case.

For a long time, through the iOS 6 beta, I thought Passbook was an app, something that Apple was waiting until the final release to turn on. It was explained to me shortly thereafter that Passbook is in fact a portal, a consolidator of passes, tickets, payment services and more. Right now, there are only a few Canadian apps that support it, namely Cineplex and Ticketmaster/Live Nation, but they work quite well. When you pay for something, say a movie ticket, with an app that plugs into Passbook, the ticket with an appropriate barcode will be accessible in the app itself. The location-aware service will detect when you’ve reached your destination (in the case of Cineplex, it knows which theatre you bought your ticket for) and the pass or ticket will appear on your lock screen when you’ve reached your destination.

A year from now, Passbook will be a robust and important portal for mobile payments, NFC or not. Apple clearly doesn’t think NFC is ready for the mass market, opting instead for barcodes and other screen-facing forms of secure payment. Starbucks has been doing this for over a year now, and many other companies are catching on. NFC or not, Apple’s Passbook has potential to be great. The problem is that it may discourage retailers and merchants from implementing NFC-capable payment systems despite the low-power communication technology being present on most modern Android and BlackBerry devices, and all upcoming Windows Phone 8 handsets.

The main problem with iOS 6 isn’t what it can do — because what it does, it does extremely well — but what Apple feels it shouldn’t do. Multitasking is still half-baked, and the number of processes that the phone can perform in the background is severely limited. Yes, that prevents excessive battery drain, but I’d love to be able to leave my house, get on a subway car and have all my RSS feeds updated without having to open it and let it sync beforehand. (And I’m aware there’s a sort-of hack to enable this but I’m talking about true background update support).

At the same time, some of Apple’s “revolutionary” features, such as Siri, are less impressive in 2012 in the face of competition. Google’s Jelly Bean update brought a service called Google Now, and it is in many ways what I’d prefer Siri to be — far more visual, and less reliant on voice. Similarly, the new Panorama feature that Apple touted in its keynote has been available on Android since the introduction of Ice Cream Sandwich last October.

Apple’s advantage comes in its implementation of these features: they are not difficult to use, or to master. But they’re extremely powerful. The panorama feature is much better than Android’s; Siri understands way more semantic language than Google Now. The iPhone 5′s keyboard is more accurate than Google’s Jelly Bean (most of the time). But where are the lock screen widgets? Why can’t we place app icons where we want? Why can’t we clear all notifications at once? Why are the settings for apps buried inside multiple menus? Why can’t I disable WiFi from the notification centre?!

Apple still has a huge advantage when it comes to app quality. As much as I love Android — and I do — there is no question that app design, even in the Holo era, still lags behind Apple. Few, if any, apps are released on Android first, and the iPhone is still a far higher priority for the majority of development houses than Android. This isn’t disputable; it’s a fact.

Battery Life

So far, so mediocre. Despite claiming that the iPhone 5 would last longer than its predecessor — eight hours of LTE browsing compared to six hours of 3G browsing on the 4S — I haven’t found any drastic improvements. In fact, the iPhone 5 has been disappointing when it comes to day-to-day usage, often hitting the dreaded 10% mark in less than eight hours.

It’s often difficult to tell whether the poor battery life will improve over time; I’ve found this to be the case with many Android phones. iOS 5, when it was released, was also very hard on the iPhone 4S’ battery, only to improve in subsequent software updates. This could be the case with iOS 6, but there’s no point in making excuses for the phone: I have to review it the way it is upon release.

Considering how heavy on battery LTE tends to be, the iPhone 5 holds up quite well against competing Android phones. Even with a 1440mAh battery the device lasts just an hour or so less than the Galaxy S III, which isn’t a huge endorsement but an achievement nonetheless.

We’ll continue to do battery tests on the iPhone 5 and follow up in a future post.

Network Speeds, Call Quality & Other

The Qualcomm baseband inside the iPhone 5 supports dual-channel HSPA+ up to 42Mbps and LTE speeds up to 100Mbps. This is a huge speed bump from the 4S, which tapped out at 14.4Mbps. Using the iPhone 5 over cellular is akin to going from a 14.4kbps baud modem to cable.

My results on both the Bell and Rogers LTE networks were faster than any Android device I’ve used to date. At my house, which usually nets three to four bars of LTE signal, I averaged between 18-55Mbps down and 12-26Mbps up; on Bell’s excellent DC-HSPA+ network I achieved a healthy 12Mbps down and 3Mbps up. This will be the single most noticeable speed bump for users upgrading from an iPhone 4 or 4S. But LTE has been available on various Android and Windows Phones for months now, and we’re used to it. The decreased page load times, quicker app downloads and general sprightliness is a great addition, especially since this will be the first experience with LTE for many people.

With hundreds of thousands of iPhone 5′s hitting the Canadian streets in the next few weeks, we’re interested to see how the carriers’ networks hold up to the strain. LTE has, until now, been a wide open and largely untested infrastructure. But even slow LTE is faster than the fastest 3G.

One area in which the iPhone 5 is drastically improved is call quality. Over the Bell network (I didn’t try TELUS), which supports HD Voice, the recipient (who must also be using a phone that supports wideband audio) sounds pin-drop clear, a dramatic improvement over the 4S. Noise suppression is also better than on previous models, even without HD Voice. Callers on the other end of the line found our voices clearer and more easily understood in noisy areas.

Then there’s the Lightning connector, which replaces the well-worn and wide 30-pin we’ve gotten so used to since 2003. Not being able to use any of your previous accessories may be a maddening consequence of progress, but like most other iPhone 5 owners, I recognize the inevitability of it. First, it’s smaller — much, much smaller — and is reversible, so you’ll never have to worry about breaking your phone after drunkenly assuming the cord goes in the other way.

But the reality of the situation is that there are hundreds of millions of Apple products out there, and millions more accessories, that are suddenly all-but-obsolete. My external battery chargers, docks, cases and car adapters — useless. Buying new ones is a cost one must consider when purchasing the new iPhone. It’s not cheap, but you can rest assured that this Lightning connector will stick around for at least another nine years.

That fact that replacement cables are $21, and the cheapest Lightning to 30-pin adapter is $35, is ridiculous. Apple should be making the transition easier for its customer base, but that’s just my opinion.

Conclusion

This was a long review to say very little. Ultimately, I’m not going to be the one to convince you to buy an iPhone 5. Our readers are a diverse and largely divided group of Apple lovers and haters, and it doesn’t matter what the company puts out because its reputation precedes it.

But try to leave alone the Apple legacy for a moment and compare it to other devices on the market. While the iPhone 5 may not be the fundamental do-over that many people wanted, from either a hardware or software perspective, it stands on its own as a very competitive, and compelling, product. It’s better built than the vast majority of its competition, and though that competition has caught up to Apple in many ways in 2012, from both a hardware perspective (HTC, Motorola) and a software perspective (Google, Microsoft), the iOS ecosystem is still without rival. App quality and access to music and movie downloads cannot be overstated; there is no Kindle Fire in Canada, and try finding an equivalent service to iTunes Match from Google.

The iPhone 5 improves upon its predecessor in every possible way. There isn’t a single aspect of the 4S that isn’t in some way bettered by the 5. But it’s not a reinvention, nor a marked departure. Apple is on cruise control, and they know that millions of customers don’t care. For Canadians upgrading to the iPhone 5, many will have just come off three-year contracts from the 2009, when the iPhone 3GS was the best smartphone money could buy. To them, and owners of the iPhone 4, I’d say pick up an iPhone 5. It’s a huge upgrade, and definitely worth signing a new contract for. Many iOS 6 features such as turn-by-turn navigation, Flyover mode, Siri, Panorama, and Shared Photo Streams, are only available on the 4S and the 5.

iPhone 4S owners don’t need to upgrade. That phone is still blazingly fast, and there isn’t a single feature on the iPhone 5 that isn’t available on the 4S. The increased screen space is nice, but not a game-changer. The 4S didn’t become thick or shoddily-made overnight. It’s still a fantastic smartphone. It’s really LTE speeds that are going to bring you over to the fold, if you aren’t yet decided. That’s the single biggest benefit to using an iPhone 5 at the moment.

I have no qualms in saying that the iPhone 5 is one of the best smartphones on the market today. It may be expensive  – it starts at $179 for a 16GB model — but it’s worth it. That Apple has fiercer competition this year in Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Motorola and others does not discount the significance of this upgrade. I am happy to call an Android phone, or a Windows Phone, or a BlackBerry for that matter, the best smartphone out there. I try every one of them, and love or hate them according to their abilities, not whose name is on the box.

But the iPhone 5 is not the best smartphone on the market; the competition continues to bring its A-game. With devices like the LG Optimus G, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2, Nokia’s Lumia 920, Sony’s Xperia T and HTC’s 8X coming out in the coming months, it’s a good time to be a smartphone user.

8.9

Final Score

8.9

Final Score

  • ruddias

    Imo, this does not come close to a 7 in value.

    • aliwhatsit

      And why is software an 8?
      -Crappy Maps app
      -UI is old and dinosauric
      -Still no widgets

      deserves a 6 or less.

    • SAM

      STUPID IAPPPLE IGARBAGE PEICE OF JUNK TO THE DUMP!!!!!
      TAKE IT ALL TO THE IDUMP!!!!
      GET THE NOTE!!!! FROM SAMMIE!!!!
      GO SAMMIE!!!!
      OOOOO SAMMIE MYA SAMMIE!!!!

    • Darth Paton

      I really, really liked this review mr. Badar, excellent job. You were able to highlight the thing the iPhone excels at without getting lost in a sickening love affair with the phone, as just about every single other reviewer has. You were incredibly fair in your comparisons with other devices, and you didn’t use hyperbole to try and emphasize aspects of the phone that did not deserve emphasis. I was also very impressed with the lte speeds, got to give that one to Apple. My only real complaint about the review is the large discrepancy between the review itself, and the following grading system. 8 for software? Extremely high given iOS’s only true advantage is its app ecosystem, an ecosystem that will soon be surpassed by Android in quantity and Windows phone 8 (in my opinion) in quality. A 9 for build quality? Granted the aluminium back is sublime in both look and feel, but the chipping, scratching, denting is serious problem and one that should keep it at either a 7 or 8. Other then these minor complaints however, I really enjoyed this review and felt it was your best written review in a long time. I do wish that Apple would bring some change to its operating system though. The lack of any exciting new changes to iOS has left it stale and boring, and is the major reason that I will be staying far away from any iOS device for a while.

    • QueBall

      Value score of 7 would likely include it’s residual value when it’s time to sell it. The resale value of the iphone lines hold up pretty well if it’s kept in good condition even after 2-3 years.

      If the phone was nearly worthless after 2-3 years then I would agree the score of 7 would be completely out to lunch. But you can basically finance your entire early upgrade fee plus a bit of the cost of the next phone when you sell off your old iphone every 2 years.

      The resale value of the Android devices seems to be getting better though. I just looked and older Galaxy S2 or Galaxy Nexus devices aren’t exactly worthless either.

    • steve

      I honestly think they kill the battery life with their tiny batteries so people have to buy more accessories… jezz

  • Kid.Canada

    In other words, you’re better off investing in a Galaxy S 3 for the long term. Tons more features and obviously a bigger screen, better battery life as well. I guess it’s a no brainer unless you’re an Apple fanboy.

    • Matt

      Better screen on the S3? I disagree, the S3 still has PENTILE which sucks balls. I’d say the One X has the best screen on the market.

    • Bri

      you sure about the battery life? I don’t think so bro lol

  • S2556

    i’m sorry but that review was pretty rough. I was loling haha

    • S2556

      *Video review

  • MXM4K

    Bottom line. It’s an iPhone. Best iPhone yet. If you like iPhones, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you still won’t.

    Nothing much else to say about it to be honest.

    • Wia

      Comment of the month. You people ought to know that arguing about one’s opinions isn’t going to have any positive results.

  • REvView

    I agree with most of the review, but found a 7/10 for “Value” way too generous, based on the things you get for the money you pay I would give them a 5/10 for VALUE.

    The only thing that is missing in the review is a price comparison: Koodo SG2x and Virgin SG2 (international version go for $300) The iPhone 5 sells for THREE TIMES that much and the phone is not 3 times better!

    The SG2 (better or worse is for you to decide) but sells for $600 or less and has SD CARD!! compare that to the $900 without SD card. This $$ comparison is missing in the review, a lot of poeple will be buying the phone outright and $600 Vs $900 is a big price difference

    -Something to note here is that apple charges you $200 for 48GB of MEMory!! While with the SG3 you can simply buy an 32GB Class 10 SD card for $25 or less. (Besides that this is an objective review)

    • Brad F

      “-Something to note here is that apple charges you $200 for 48GB of MEMory!! While with the SG3 you can simply buy an 32GB Class 10 SD card for $25 or less. (Besides that this is an objective review)”

      Even a Class 10 SD card is less than half the speed you get from built-in memory. Try comparing a Class 10 SD card to an SSD, let me know when they get the same speeds.

    • Eric

      You do not measure ANYTHING in value that way, I’m not sure where you got this crazy notion from, but you have much to learn about how pricing works.

      There are numerous factors at play, such as brand, quality, intangible factors.

      You can’t say something that costs twice as much as something is SUPPOSED to be TWICE as good.

  • Max

    S3 is a steal with a removable batter and expandable memory along with its big screen. Only downside is s voice is a joke. Who uses Siri anyways?

  • Ben

    Excellent, objective review. Thanks.

  • hallomynameis_

    Finally a good honest review…

  • D

    I love mobile syrup reviews but not as much as I love my S3! Truly honest dudes. Thanks!

  • Tomatoes

    Build quality definitiely did not deserve a 9. Premium materials gets too much of a premium in that score.

    For build quality, the phone should definitely be less prone to scuffs and dents to get a 9. Can’t hand out 9′s like candy just because every company uses metal and glass. Although it is close enough to Halloween.

  • alex

    So freaking tired of people riding the S3 to justify their purchases. On every forum. So tired.

    Want iphone? Good. Want S3? Good. Stop bashing so hard to justify your purchases.

    Thank you for the review.

    • Tomatoes

      The GS3 doesn’t need any justification. The iphone 5 can use some help though. Hard to justify the height increase just for some letterboxed goodness and some squished looking video.

      Maybe just maybe people are bashing the iphone 5 cause it looks funny. These people might not even own GS3 handsets. There are only 20 million worldwide and most of them probably not even in North America.

  • Kid.Canada

    @Max and that’s why we’re all excited that Samsung is finally getting rid of it and replacing it with Google Now in the upcoming JB update.

    Google Now > Siri.

  • Dalex

    I dislike Iphones and Apple as a company (though I have owned an Iphone in the past), but this was a well written review Daniel.

    As you pointed out more eloquently, Iphone users will buy this phone, other platform users will not. At the moment, not enough people have come to realize that the Iphone is not even close to being the best choice out there. I do think the movement has started though and a lot of people are realizing the efforts put forth by other companies exceed these iterative releases from Apple.

    The only score I disagree with is value, 7 is still way too generous. A new connector should be exposed for the obvious cash grab that it is. On top of that, 179$/3 years is hilariously overpriced.

    • Jared

      Not even close? Your fanboyism is showing. The iphone is just as competitive as the S3 and I am sure the Nokia 920 will be good as well. Competition is good, just don’t be biased in judgement.

    • Dalex

      Ummm, what? Sorry if reheated software from 2007 is competitive for you, but its no GS3 and its definitely no Jellybean Gnex. The Nokia Lumia 920 will be very nice I agree and I want to pick one up, but I’m just waiting for Microsoft to reveal more features from WP8 to complete my decision. I’m even tempted to wait and see what BB10 offers.

      Ultimately if horribly boring and limited software are your thing and you like large companies telling you how your smartphone should be used, then yeah Apple is definately the way to go…

    • Average Joe

      I’m waiting for BB10.
      I currently rock the SG3, but BlackBerry is showing some really compelling stuff with BB10.
      It looks like the OS of the future. I think BlackBerry is going to be the comeback kid in 2013.
      As a Canadian, I think that’s good news.
      As of lover of all things tech, I think that more competition is good news too.
      The smartphone market is expanding at an unbelievable pace. There is room for all 4 (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and WP8).
      The competition between 4 platforms will really drive innovation! Woo hoo!

  • joejoe

    A reasonable, rational, well-thought-out review. Thanks for working on it over this last weekend. At first, I thought you were one of the lucky reviewers to get an iPhone5 a week early.

    For all those Apple-haters, iPhone5 looks like its going to be another blockbuster in sales. A lot of stores are already sold out, and the wait list is long. Apple isn’t making a phone to turn haters into fanboys. It’s making a phone that the marketplace wants, and will increase its revenue several billion more. So haters gonna hate, and Apple’s going to the bank.

    • Dowhatt

      just because of the Apple logo, right? There other options out there and much better ones.

  • Bolexle

    Good review. Having held the phone and played with it for a bit, (I sell cell phones) I have to agree with you when you say the build quality is exceptional. I own a Galaxy s3 myself and the quality feel of the iphone 5 is unmatched. Still, buying a phone because it “feels” good is kind of a silly reason.

    The phone is solid, runs well, and has good features. If you are an iphone fan and have a 3gs or older, do an upgrade. If you hate apple, continue doing so.

  • jayzero

    for me the iphone looks very nice. that’s it! i don’t like itunes at all. love drag and drop! than no micro sd card and than no more maps. i think if they come next weeks with an iphone 5s (like galaxy note) they will get a lot of customers back but for now there are better phones out.

    preorder note 2

  • idonkey

    Time to Celebrate! Going to wear my new spandex and going to Starbuck for this special occasions!

  • Quinn

    I’m sorry, but I had to stop reading the review after 3 paragraphs, not due to the content, but to the exhausting level of unnecessary words! You guys REALLY, and I mean REALLY R-E-A-L-L-Y, need to ditch your thesaurus. I don’t even know what you’re trying to imply some of the time because the words you choose don’t reflect what (I assume?) is intended. You don’t have to have to say things like ‘iterative’, ‘ostensibly’, ‘chamfered’ and ‘The precision at which these edges are cut is preposterous’ to sounds elegant and smart. All you need is a good review!

    • Mark

      @Quinn

      Sorry, I had to stop reading your comment after the first sentence due to all the unnecesary whining! Also you really use the word ‘really’ too much. What’s with the hypens anyway?

  • Galaxy S3: 9.5/10
    iPhone 5: 8.9/10
    just sayin…

  • Terry

    Whether you like Android, IOS, Apple or Goolge, Samsung etc.

    All that matters for this article… Is that it’s an excellent review!

  • kenypowa

    Apple Maps alone should deduct 2 points from the final score. What good is a smartphone if it can’t find the closet Starbucks or Poutinary?

    Just saying…

    • Nathan

      You speak as if Apple Maps is completely incompetent lol. Have you even tried it? I doubt it. Navigation in big cities like Vancouver have fared me well on iPhone 4S and it did make a mistake about telling me to turn after I passed an intersection but it can still find locations EVEN with Siri.

  • Jellmoo

    Probably the fairest and most well rounded review I have read so far. Very nice.

    Ultimately you hit the nail on the head: iPhone lovers should be happy with it, while it won’t be converting very many non-iPhone lovers.

  • jon_d0e1

    I rather get LG than crapple iphone

  • StephenBB81

    Good review
    I can’t believe how laid back everyone is about Passbook though.

    Passbook worries me,
    Apple owns Patent RE42,927

    “A location information system uses a positioning system, such as the civilian Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS), in combination with a distributed network. The location information system includes a radio transceiver for communicating to the distributed network and a GPS receiving system. The GPS receiving system receives a signal from the GPS and converts it into a coordinate entry. The coordinate entry is transmitted to the distributed network for retrieval of corresponding location specific information. The location specific information may reside on a web page. The coordinate entry may be incorporated into the web page address that supports the coordinate entry or linked to an existing web page associated with the coordinate entry. The web page and associated information is displayed. Bar code labels, infrared beacons and other labeling systems may also be used in the location information system in place of or in addition to the GPS receiving system to supply location identification information.”

    This patent basically lets them use your location to push ad offers to you, and to record where you are and feed it back to servers. combined with Apple’s mapping technology Passbook is Apple’s way of completely sculpting peoples buying patterns by pushing information to them based on their movements and their locations, they could push a McDonalds coupon to you every time you enter a Burger King, they’ll have access to what your favourite stores are and how often you go to them and targeted promotions can be done to pull you into the stores during your non regular visiting times,

    The passbook and Apples fetish for control should have people scared, but alas most will say “it’s free and I don’t fall for ads I buy what I want”

    • Brad F

      Apple owns a lot of patents, and a lot of them they’ll never use because they only got the patent so someone else wouldn’t get it and abuse it.

      Like the patent they got a few years ago for an OS that doesn’t let you use it until you watch ads and correctly answer some quiz questions about the ads.

    • Some Guy

      Uh, Brad F, I seriously doubt that Apple, as one of the biggest companies is the world, is very worried about our well-being. I’m sure you are able to produce information that suggests that Apple said that they bought that patent to stop people from abusing it, however I’m not a trusting person, so if someone says that they did something for a certain reason, especially if they’re the CEO of a large company, I’m not inclined to believe what they said until I can see proof that what they’re saying is true.
      Also, keep in mind that Apple is quite a large patent troll.

    • Dylan W

      Yeah Brad apple isnt bruce wayne.

  • Alex

    I’d take an android any day over this, but great great honest review.good job!

  • Doug

    Disagree on a few (small) things, but I think we can all agree Daniel writes great reviews…good work!

  • Jesse

    I think iOS could improve greatly from some UI updates. The question is, what should they be? Android has the Tron look down, and minimalistic UI elements are something that’s WP7′s speciality. If iOS takes any notes, it’ll be misconstrued as “copying”. Something needs to be changed though.

  • Jack Smith

    thanks for the fair well rounded review that tells people whats good and not so good without praising the phone as the second coming of god. Also for reminding people that their are other excellent phones on both the Android and Windows Phone side. However i will keep my HTC One X as its just as beautiful in its own way.

  • Josh L

    Good unbiased reviews. This is why I check mobile syrup as much as my emails and Facebook!

  • stylinred

    best macro shots of any smartphone… seriously… and you even mentioned the 808 pureview in the same review… lol

    and its not Interpolation, at least not in the 808 pureview that’s the opposite of whats going on (as in 2mpx to 41mpx instead of 41mpx to 2mpx)

    • stylinred

      should clarify my brackets interpolation means they make up information as in typical digital zooming (2mpx to 41mpx)

      the 808 takes a lot of information and squeezes the best of it into a smaller image (41mpx to 2mpx) hence why its called oversampling or if you want pixel binning

  • EmperumanV

    Got a less score than the S3 which was 9.5/10

  • Bill

    heh. I bought an iphone5, and I don’t entirely agree with this review. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with what he said, but there are so many holes. Critiques about the software have already been stated. But what about the “phone” features? I think that the iphone is still horrible as a phone (it’s great at everything else, hence why I have one). Calendar integration, messages integration, and call handling abilities still suck. I don’t know why they spend more time and effort integrating facebook into iOS 6 than call handling features that other phones have had from years ago. Unless, of course, they don’t expect that most people buying this will use it for making phone calls.

    I’m still hopeful that one day there will be ringtone profiles, the ability to delete specific call log entries (without requiring a jailbreak), and call management features. *sigh* I guess I can dream…

  • Sunny

    Pretty surprised by the battery review. Battery has been excellent for me lasting anywhere between 24-36 hours. Vast majority of other reviewers have found the battery life to be pretty great as well

  • Sunny

    PS. Anybody that thinks websites, including this one, don’t have a bias towards what they think their readers want to read is in for a surprise

    • Tomatoes

      Yup, that is the only reason the iphone 5 got a 8.8 on the Verge. The sad thing is that the commentators actually believed that it was a well written review and that the Verge is not biased towards Apple. LOL

    • Dalex

      Yes I thought that score on the Verge was a bit nonsensical especially according to what was written.

      To be fair though, I do have a lot of respect for Josh Topolsky who wrote it. He admitted that even while using the Iphone 5 for review, he missed his Gnex for its power and flexibility to get things done.

      Things like that get lost on Iphone fanboys though who will sheepishly do what they are told, but it is valuable information for informed consumers.

  • shadyguy

    Loving how the battery life just blows. They just can’t figure it out. lol.

  • zzZZzz

    I’ll give this review a 10/10 just for using Gangnam style in one of the comparisons :)

  • Fandroid

    If you have a iPhone 5, you have a iPhone 4S. If you have a iPhone 4S, you have a iPhone 4

    • Jellmoo

      If you have a Galaxy S3, you have a Galaxy S2. If you have a Galaxy S2, you have a Galaxy S.

      It’s not true, but it’s just as to easy to say.

  • DL

    If there’s one beef I have with the iPhone 5–LTE support. I can expect the LTE networks to slow down my SGS3 because of the all of the additional LTE phones out there. Stay off the LTE network!

  • Nathan

    Samsung Galaxy S3 has better customizing, screen size and performance but its a whole lot more uglier than the Black iPhone 5.

  • sicpuppy

    “Starbucks to add Passbook support to its app by the end of the month”

    not surprised lol .

  • 12345

    Friday morning, open with 3 iPhone 5′s. Monday still have 2 sitting here, and no we did not restocked

  • antihero

    What I got from this review: This phone is amazing but kind of “meh”. This has the most mixed signals than any review I’ve read for any phone.

  • antihero

    Between the Samsung GS3 and the iPhone 5 (both of which I believe are superb devices) I would still go with the iPhone only because I prefer the consistent performance and app quality/support on iOS. Although a lot of what the GS3 has is brilliant, in the end I have to go with the “experience” that I most enjoy.

    Samsung phones are well designed but made of plastic and really takes away from the feel of the device. When I buy an Apple product, I feel like I am buying something worth the money. I know a lot of the fanatics out there will have a problem with that latter statement.

    Also not a big fan of Android’s poor update cycles. By the time your handset maker and operator releases the update, it’s behind and nobody in the Android universe gets the same update. I used to own an Android device, so I know what this is like.

    • sp

      lol sorry i totally laughed at your comment.

      you say the plastic feel of the Samsungs take away from the feel of the phone?

      so let me ask you this…your iPhone’s are not put in a case? so you feel only the quality feel of the phone always? Because a lof of people I know put their phones (whether be it iPhone/Androids/BB in cases.

      the constant updates that you get… like 5.0.1/5.0.2 … those updates are even of any consequence. yes the Android might be fragmented, but you also now get fragmented with iOS. so dont give me that….

      you can just say..you prefer iPhone because you prefer iPhone. we all know that everyone has their preference, but dont try to justify such a crazy reasoning as you have just given. if you are a sheep..you are a sheep. plain and simple….

    • antihero

      Why am I not allowed to justify my reason for preferring iPhone over Android? I used to have an Android…I liked it but not as much as I liked iOS. You make it sound like it matters or that I’ve committed something unconscionable.

      Also, consumerism is consumerism. What makes you better than anybody else for buying into a different brand? Your hypocrisy is showing.

  • Jamma

    WOW even the almost 1 year old Galaxy Nexus review score was better.
    Apple people are starting to see your old boring iOS for what it is…old.
    People use to say the same about RIM and look at Apple now…suckers ifanboy.

  • flagejan

    I still don’t understand how pixel density makes the screen the best in the market lol

  • sp

    “I have no qualms in saying that the iPhone 5 is one of the best smartphones on the market today”

    fan boy at its finest

  • Cornelius J

    This was probably one of the best reviews of the Iphone 5 that I’ve read, thanks. One minor correction, though. Panorama has been available on Android much longer than last October. It was stock on my Droid2 almost 2 years ago, running FroYo at the time of purchase.

  • Lirodon

    Gangnam Style

    I see what you did there.

  • Yannick Wolfe

    the battery life, so far, is terrible.

    i’ll need to do a couple of complete charge cycle to be sure but so far, looks like i’ll be returning it.

    the battery is oretty much the same as in the iphone 4S but bigger screen and LTE, what did Apple expect?

    when using LTE, you can litteraly see the battery drain % every minutes or so.

  • UVSoaked

    9.5 for the camera? I expect a 10 for the 920′s camera then. ;)

  • Slype

    Awesome review Daniel. Honest and I think he nailed it.

    Though I dislike Apple, the iPhone 5 is one of the better smartphones out there but I agree with Daniel. It is not the best.

  • Steve

    One of the best, most well-balanced reviews I have read in a long time. Well done!!!

  • Sid

    iPhone 5 is a very sexy and James Bond “ish” phone… definitely has sex appeal but it lacks in innovation… i just dont see it … unlike the other guys that have an “in your face” appeal.

    HTC One S or X have a far better screen but for me the S3 takes this one because of long term feasibility and eventual resale value.

    As a Blackberry 9900 user I cant wait to see what BB10 will look like but in the mean time I too am making the switch to the S3.

    Happy Shopping

  • blackprince

    I just have to say that the large metal band around the back of the phone looks hideous. Which made me shake my head everytime you said gorgeous. Pretty fair review though. I think though that there isn’t enough bang for your buck in this phone. Its far too exspensive and it doesn’t offer a luxury offering that the price implies. I can do without padding Apple’s bottom line.

  • MB

    I don’t care about the ecosystem or if it’s a good phone or just good enough…I don’t appreciate Apple’s philosophy…and most apps are for kids…google.com is the best anyways to guide you…not a fan of mobile versions like this site anyway. People must have spent hundreds of dollars to want to stay with iTunes since it’s such a bad software. Or should I say, bad philosophy…

  • Nick

    “every year we look forward to the new iphone… because it’s the best…”

    Nice opener. You recovered nicely and made a decent review out of it though.

  • Me Ted

    You’re way out to lunch Bader. Brutal.

  • PR

    WTF instant shutter was one of the features in Ice cream sandwich LAST YEAR

  • al

    Quite a bit wrong with this review really.

    The precision of the cuts around the edges? That’s Jony Ive levels of nonsense.

    Basically has nothing good to say about the battery but gives it a 7? 7 usually denoting pretty decent / no real cause for complaint etc. Not really a number I’d select from something described as mediocre.

    “you can rest assured that this Lightning connector will stick around for at least another nine years.”

    Really? 9 years? Source please. Sounds like excuses.

    I get the impression, deep down, you sense problems with this phone but can’t bring yourself to say so.

  • Sage

    Word to the wise, stay away. My bro has under his possession his 5th (!!!) iPhone 5. Dead pixels and OUT OF THE BOX scuff marks being the culprits! Absolutely ridiculous! For a brand renowned for high quality products, this new iPhone has sure become a high priced joked! Needless to say, he will be getting it switched for an S3!

  • Wahid18

    There are 4 top carriers, & 4 top brands we have in the Canadian market. Rogers, Bell, Telus & Wind. Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone. I believe Apple has marked its place in the top tier with Android literally holding its tail. I have no thought if what the market will be like 12 months from now, but I do believe that Blackberry 10 & Windows Phone 8 are going to make a tremendous dent into the competition. I will always support Blackberry & their innovation as a Canadian, but I do love the quality Apple brings. Windows Phone has great phone build & the software has its own unique & astonishing features. I am very excited for the next few months!

  • KisD

    I’ve been using the iPhone 5 for a couple days now, since I destroyed my iPhone 4 and haven’t been near an Apple store to get it fixed.
    I do quite like this phone for how well it does what I want it to do. I love the camera on it, despite these reports of it having glare. I have yet to see that happen. The OS runs VERY fast, so much so that I find it irritating to even use my 4 again after it got fixed.
    One thing I find people overlook is the phone itself. The call quality on this thing is incredible, by far the best I’ve ever experienced on a cell phone. I can hear the person on the other line loud and clear, even when I’m walking in busy areas downtown Toronto. Someone asked me if I was on my home phone today when I was in the Eaton Centre. I find that very impressive.

    I will be returning the phone since my 4 is fixed, but only because I can’t justify spending $800 on a phone. (I got the 32GB for the hell of it). If I were up for an upgrade, or in the market for a brand new phone, I don’t see why I’d get anything else. Sure the S3 is better on paper, but for someone who needs a good phone with a couple apps, this thing is what a phone should be.

  • Barry Moss

    There appear to be major problems with LTE on the iPhone 5 on the Telus network. I spent an hour and a half today travelling through areas which are supposed to have LTE service and only got LTE coverage for 5 minutes. Also, no coverage in my office in a downtown Vancouver high rise (my boss has good LTE coverage on his Roger’s iPhone 5 though).

  • wheels

    what a pile of crap, just picked one up for my son who just had to have an i phone,( I wouldn’t be caught dead with an apple product) i have spent the last 6 months trying to get him to go with an android but finnally caved in and got it for him, and right out on the box the home button doesn’t work and I go online and hundreds of people are having the same problem,the small store whre i got it have had five with the same problem, seriously why do people think there soo good.

  • Arunkumar Lazar

    for me the iphone looks very nice. that’s it! I am going to present this on my son’s next Birthday defiantly.

  • Cosmas Satuku

    Exellent

  • Madhav

    YEAH YEAH.. IPHONE THIS IPHONE THAT. WHATS NEXT… IPHONE COFFEE MAKER!

  • screamer

    I like the iPhone a lot. When you use it for email text and music that it’s your phone and we know thou can sell it easily after 2 years. I always see people here writing galaxy s3 but the Motorola razr is the phone to get. Moto cast, smart actions and a build quality

  • screamer

    I love my iPhone!

  • screamer

    Apple will loose a lot of money because there very good phones out that are better than the iPhone. When I see that I had to put my movies in mp4 to watch it on my phone or this iTunes s!@# same thing need to put my music first there and than on my phone. People that saying the iPhone is better mh… ah I use a case on my phone so what about build quality?