Editor rating : 8
Editor rating : 8
Editor rating : 8
Editor rating : 8
Editor rating : 7.5
It’s not like Apple has reinvented the wheel completely with the new iPhone. The sophistication and elegance that embodies the device is every bit as evident as the previous additions. But the overall finesse has definitely been taken up a notch or two with the slightly new design. Here’s a closer look at the overall handling of the handset and our take on the all-new Apple iPhone 5.
Even if it was one of the most anticipated devices of the year, the expectation of a drastically different iPhone hasn’t really been met—to an extent. While the iPhone 5 is certainly slimmer (7.6mm) than the previous versions and longer, with a larger display at 4 inches (still Retina intact at a 640 x 1136 pixel resolution at 326 ppi and 800:1 contrast ratio), the overall design looks very similar to the 4 or 4S. The display also features a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating that serves its purpose to an extent. Smudges will still need to be dealt with the old fashioned way – a quick wipe on your sleeve or shirt. The elongated shape does, however, make for better handling and the ultra lightweight (112g) handset makes portability much better. But it feels a bit like it isn’t all there. The aluminium and glass casing, although looking quite premium, lacks a certain mechanical weight we’ve come to expect from feature rich high-end handsets. All that being said, just like those that came before it, one will still have that feel-good-factor that comes with owning an Apple device, even if they can’t afford it.
Intricately crafted buttons
The buttons beside the little switch-to-silent option as well as the power key are still by far the best example of premium furnishings for a handset. There’s zero play with the fixtures and even though the handset feels quite delicate, it has a pretty solid structure. But if anyone says that the rear panel is scratch resistant, they’re lying. After a few trysts with keys and coins in my pockets, the handset emerged with a few bruises. The new Lightning connector fits snugly into the socket and stays put quite firmly. This new standard Apple has decided to unleash upon us will be the cause for some concern till these adapters become a little more affordable. But would it kill the multi-billion dollar company if it includes a small adapter with the box? I think not!
Warning! Not scratch Resistant!
Shrinking down to the nano SIM wasn’t really a problem, but we’d nevertheless suggest getting a professional to do it for you. A set of adapters are available with most mobile phone vendors for about Rs. 200 that allow you to switch between different-sized cards. Looking at it from a consumer’s perspective, the iPhone has always been a device that stood out in the crowd simply because of the design and ridiculously simple-to-use UI. The fundamental design is still retained but tweaked to be slimmer, lighter and slightly longer. It’s still a great looking device, but it is not, we repeat, it is not completely resistant to scratches. So much for the design. Moving on…
Features and performance
The latest iPhone iteration ships with the latest iOS version, i.e. version 6.0. iOS 6 has brought some much needed features to the iPhone/iPad/iPod line-up, but this pretty much covers all Apple devices and is not unique to this specific model. Features like FaceTime over 3G, a Do Not Disturb option that can be handy when you need a little private space, photostream, heavier Facebook integration and, of course, the infamous iOS Maps. Most of the people we showed the device to were eager to know just how different the iPhone 5 is to their existing devices, and not in terms of what they can see, i.e. design. The simplest explanation is that the new A6 CHIP from Apple is of the dual core variety in the 1.2GHz range, while the 4S was only 1GHz in Apple’s A5 series. This would make functionality much smoother, faster and graphics (triple core graphics) would really pop! However, 3 out of 5 people didn’t really seem to take much notice of the speed boost. Hardcore techies, reviewers and those with a keen eye for detail managed to see the difference when the two devices were held side by side and used. Most average mobile users we showed it to, simply said both are quite fast.
What the A6 chip does, however, is circulate the usage better than some of the previous chips and those from some competitors. Apple has custom designed the chip to work well with iOS6 to be more power efficient and boost the device's battery life to a large extent. Naturally, we had to test it, so read on to find out how the battery tests went.
Slicker, sleeker, slimmer, lighter
The truth of the matter is, with an OS that now transcends through pretty much all of Apple’s current mobile devices, speed is the one thing that was never an issue. The iPhone 5 simply makes a great OS that was already pretty darn fast to begin with—a little faster. Features are constantly being updated with new versions and updates, and again, this is released to everyone. It’s not unique to this device but serves it very well nonetheless.
Apple’s media prowess in the iPhones and iPod touches have been surpassed by the likes of Beats Audio and Dolby Mobile Surround found in Android and some other OSes and devices. The iPhone 5 did not impress us too much in the media department. Although the new layout of the Music Player app is very engaging, the audio quality even with EQ tweaks was quite average at best. Apple did not see it fit to send us the new EarPods, so we’re afraid we can’t say much about them at this point. With earphones ranging from Harman Kardon to Sennheiser and those in a lower range like Creative or Panasonic, audio quality proved to be decent. Higher tones were a bit on the sharper side and lower tones could have been a little stronger.
Audio quality could certainly be improved
Thanks to ardent Apple developers we’re now seeing quite a few multi-format supported video players on the app store in the “Free Zone”. This allows you to drag and drop video files of any and all sizes and resolutions and formats onto your iDevice. Of course, you will still need to use iTunes as the medium. Thanks to the iPhone 5’s brilliant graphics processor, speedy A6 chip and fantastic and vibrant Retina display, HD videos in either 1080p or 720p look superb. If you’re upgrading from the iPhone 4 or 4S and have already purchased AV Out (HDMI supported) adapters, you’ll have to buy a converter to use them with the new Lightning connector. Or, you could just get an app that’s designed for DLNA.
Just like the last two iPhones, the iPhone 5 is also readily equipped to service your connectivity needs, with a few extras. With the addition of LTE support, the iPhone 5 can support 4G speeds if and when you can find it. And naturally, you can still easily fall back on the good old 3G and EDGE when required. Wi-Fi with the ability to create a personal hotspot is also on board along with Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP support. Apple is still restricting Bluetooth file transfer; however, iOS6 does include Bluetooth sharing to a small extent via the Privacy option in the Settings menu. It’s designed to work with a few third party apps for a variety of purposes like multiplayer games and transferring certain details between compatible apps. Thanks to this persistent closed-off way of thinking, features like Wi-Fi file transfer will also probably be kept at bay for a while longer. For some reason, Apple has also chosen to leave out NFC from the iPhone 5’s make up.
iOS Maps, still not at par with Google's offering
GPS with GLONASS and A-GPS to assist could also have been a real asset had Apple’s Maps been more functional. 3D maps for India and Turn by Turn Navigation are yet to arrive as well.
A few extras thrown in for good measure
Built-in apps like FaceTime (with HD support now), a voice recorder, Find my iPhone, News Stand and all new Passbook app are thrown in. The Passbook app is a location and time-based app that provides quick access to details like boarding passes for journeys, gift cards etc. Siri is still as talkative as usual and with her recent update via iOS6, she’s able to provide much more information than a simple to the point answer.
The piece de resistance of the iPhone 5 is its 8 megapixel iSight camera; unlike other OSes, the iPhone camera is the definition of Point and Shoot. Other than a Grid view, HDR and flash on/off settings, the app offers nothing else. What’s the most significant add-on to the camera is the auto-stitch Panorama option. Stitched images look just brilliant when the lighting is right and just like the previous iPhones, colours look sharp and vibrant. Touch focus is always a handy feature to have, and it works very well on the iPhone 5.
Superb Panorama shots that are stitched together in perfection
Images captured in dark loctaions with a flash proved to be quite good, but no better than most other high end handsets.
Photo Test – Low light with flash is not too shabby
Images in daylight or well lit conditions, on the other hand, looked really good. Focus was always where you expected or wherever you chose it to be, with face recognition being swift and very accurate. Details and colours also managed to be quite full.
Photo Test – Normal – Colours look much better, but details are still quite well retained
Photo Test – with HDR – Colours look more vibrant
Full HD videos came out well irrespective of the lighting conditions.
Check out this link for a few image test comparisons between the iPhone 5, the 4S and the HTC One X.
The iPhone 5 may be slimmer, which would have you wonder just how much of the precious battery has been shaved off. But if there’s anything we’ve learned in the last decade, it’s that devices can get smaller, slimmer and more powerful— and the same goes for batteries too. The iPhone 5 has a 1440mAh battery, which might not seem like much but is capable of providing over 8.5 hours of 720p HD video playback non-stop. Our loop test – where we ran the handset for 2 hours video, 2 hours audio, 2 hours audio streaming via Wi-Fi and 1 hour of calling – for the first loop was surpassed. The handset ran into the second loop where we were able to squeeze about another 2 hours more by way of 1 hour on a call and another hour and change of music. That would be equivalent to about 9 hours of non-stop usage, which in real terms translates to about a day and half of normal usage before you’ll need to charge it again.
The bottom line and price in India
The iPhone is still one the most sought after smartphones out there today. And the iPhone 5 is nothing more nor is it anything less in that context. Just like all the others that came before it, you’ll have to pay premium price for this handset, where the 64GB version will cost you about Rs. 59,500 followed by the 32GB addition at Rs. 52,500 and the 16GB model at Rs. 45,500 (prices will vary depending on dealers, locations and special offers). That’s an awful lot of money to spend on a handset that doesn’t have a 5-inch display or support for Bluetooth file transfer and lacks a universally applicable connector or a special concierge service. No one can say it’s not a damn good handset, but is it worth Rs. 60,000? That’s an answer only a fan can give. From where we stand, there are plenty of great options out there that would do just as well for an easy Rs. 10,000 or more cut off from the price tag.
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Jan 18, 2017