Quality Time With An iPhone 5

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I finally had the chance to really use and get familiar with the iPhone 5.  I am both underwhelmed and impressed at the same time.

First the appearance is nice but smaller than I expected.  Yes the screen did go to 4-inches but it does not look that much bigger than the old 3.5-inch screen.  Just a bit longer.  To the uninitiated, it does not look any different. 

On the other hand, the screen is just amazing.  Super retina resolution and very bright.  One of the best I have seen.  However, if you are trying to impress with a “mine is bigger than yours” approach, you will probably lose with this phone.  But you will love the photo and video quality level. 

Oh yes, the phone is amazingly lighter than before.  I like a little heft in a phone but this one is light enough for your shirt pocket.

The new cameras are excellent too.  8 Mpixels with a nice flash.  And finally there is a front-facing camera.  I didn't try the panaroma thing.

One of the best features of the new iPhone 5 is the LTE on the AT&T network.  If you can get it in your area, LTE is worth it.  It is truly fast.  Some 3G HSPA networks are pretty fast too but LTE is exceptional.  Very noticeable.  It allows you to use the network to access the Internet when Wi-Fi is not available without a speed penalty.  My favorite feature.

As for Siri, forget it.  It still does not work well.  It is more of a gimmick than a really useful feature.  Or maybe I just ask it questions that are too hard.  Siri in this latest version is still not ready for prime time.  I think Siri is worse than the maps issue.

Now, about those Apple maps.  Most reviews have been exceptionally hard on the new maps.  In the few instances that I tested this feature, it worked fine, just as well as the Google maps.  But there does seem to be less detail shown.  I actually like how the maps look and you can get a different view of the surroundings than with Google.  The voice turn-by-turn directions feature is what this change is all about. 

You can bet Apple will fix the map problems as fast as they can.  It will probably take a few iterations to fine tune the maps to Google quality but they will get there.  In the meantime, just go to Safari and call up Google maps if you want them.

Did I buy the iPhone 5?  Not yet.  The contract is up on my 3GS and I am still cogitating about it.  As it turns out, I just don’t feel the need for new features as much as I thought I would.  I am still looking at alternatives.  I especially like the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Nokia Lumia 920 with Microsoft OS and its great look and feel.  But am I really ready to give up the Apple experience and learn Android or Microsoft Windows Mobile?  Tough decision.  I could do it unlike many because I have fewer apps and I am not a slave to iTunes.  But get this.   I actually have more than a few CrackBerry friends who are waiting on the forthcoming RIM BlackBerry 10.  But I am not willing to go there.

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Lou Frenzel

Lou Frenzel is the Communications Technology Editor for Electronic Design Magazine where he writes articles, columns, blogs, technology reports, and online material on the wireless, communications...
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