One of the biggest selling points for the iPhone 5 is its 4G technology, which will make mobile browsing far, far quicker. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been switched on yet in the UK. Tthe newly rebranded “EE” (formerly Everything Everywhere), plans to launch the first 4G network in London within “weeks”. If you’re on another network, you face a wait until the new year, when the government auctions off a new chunk of mobile “spectrum”.
The new A6 chip in the iPhone 5 is supposed to be twice as fast as the 4S, which was already pretty quick. In our tests, the 5 had the edge but the difference was marginal. Opening web pages, was slightly quicker, as was loading apps, but we’re only talking about half a second. Having said that, those half seconds all add up over the course of a year. The real difference will be in the ability to render graphics in next-generation games.
Gone is the 30-pin connector, replaced by a tiny slip of a thing just 1cm across. It may be a bit of a pain if you have to buy an adaptor for your speaker dock but it’s one of those things that makes you think, “What took them so long?”. Definitely an improvement.
The iPhone 4 is a design classic: all glass and aluminium. The 5 doesn’t fall too far from the tree but is an improvement nonetheless. The glass has mostly gone from the rear, replaced with... you guessed it... brushed aluminium. Small glass strips remain along the top and bottom for antenna purposes and the whole thing feels remarkably well put together. Tapered edges on the aluminium bevel is a nice touch. It really is a work of engineering genius.
OK, so this is technically an iOS 6 issue, rather than an iPhone 5 one, but the launch of Maps, complete with reimagined global geography, was rather embarrassing for Apple. I’m a bit disappointed I haven’t spotted any errors myself. This is the one aspect of the launch that’s a bit of a damp squib. Mapping the entire world ain’t easy, it seems.
Size and weight
On appearances alone, the iPhone 5 looks like a marginal improvement on the 4S. When you hold them both in your hand, though, the 4S instantly starts to look dated. The height difference, which takes the 5 to almost 16:9 aspect ratio, feels like a natural progression. The weight difference is stark – the 5 feels incredibly nimble. In a blind test, you can quite easily tell which phone is in your pocket without having to touch it.