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A fresh design and strong performance keep Apple at the front of the pack

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Apple's iPhone 5 is an amazing performer with great battery life wrapped in a delicious shell. It's a top-shelf device.

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Critic reviews

8.8
44 reviews
  • Reception and call quality
    8.9
  • Display
    9.1
  • Battery life
    8.4
  • Camera
    8.9
  • Ease of use
    8.7
  • Design and form factor
    9.1
  • Portability (size / weight)
    9.0
  • Media support
    7.6
  • Durability
    7.5
  • Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.)
    7.9

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User reviews

8.6
279 reviews
9.0
Engadget Sep 18, 2012

For the iOS faithful this is a no-brainer upgrade. This is without a doubt the best iPhone yet. This is a hallmark of design. This is the one you've been waiting for.

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10
TechCrunch Sep 18, 2012

Overall, the iPhone 5 is an absolute homerun. Apple has taken what I consider to be the best smartphone and perfected it in nearly every way.

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9.0
The Wall Street Journal Sep 18, 2012

Apple has taken an already great product and made it better, overall. Consumers who prefer huge screens or certain marginal features have plenty of other choices, but the iPhone 5 is an excellent choice.

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9.0
PC Mag Sep 22, 2012

With a sublime, but familiar design inside and out, a speedy new processor, fast LTE, and the best apps in the business, the new iPhone is like the old iPhone, just much better.

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9.0
Macworld Sep 25, 2012

Once again, Apple hasn’t reinvented the iPhone. All it’s done is make the best smartphone around even better.

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9.0
Wired Sep 25, 2012

For all the talk of the new iPhone being boring, iterative, or lacking that trademark Apple flavor of cutting-edge innovation, it is undoubtedly the best handset you can buy.

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8.0
New York Times Sep 18, 2012

If you have an iPhone 4S, getting an iPhone 5 would mean breaking your two-year carrier contract and paying a painful penalty; maybe not worth it for the 5’s collection of nips and tucks. But if you’ve had the discipline to sit out a couple of iPhone generations — wow, are you in for a treat.

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8.0
CNET Sep 18, 2012

The iPhone 5 completely rebuilds the iPhone on a framework of new features and design, addressing its major previous shortcomings. It's absolutely the best iPhone to date, and it easily secures its place in the top tier of the smartphone universe.

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8.0
Ars Technica Sep 24, 2012

Existing iPhone owners with anything older than a 4S should be extremely happy with the iPhone 5. But for those who own a 4S already, the differences may not be worth the upgrade right now.

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10
The Guardian Sep 19, 2012

As for the iPhone 5, it's a lovely piece of equipment. Boring? Lacking wow? With its market value now crossing $700bn and iPhone 5 pre-orders through the roof, Apple might disagree.

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10
Cult of Mac Sep 25, 2012

Earlier in this review, I referred to the iPhone 5 as a creature of grace. I want to say it again, because it’s a pretty thing to say that matches in its simplicity and beauty the object which it is describing. The iPhone 5 is a creature of grace. It’s exquisite.

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9.0
SlashGear Sep 18, 2012

Right now, the iPhone 5 has the best balance of everyday usability and performance, without the distraction of functionality that is clever but unintuitive. It’s an area in which Apple excels, and it’s the reason the iPhone 5 is one of the best smartphones on the market today.

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9.0
Time Sep 18, 2012

The bottom line, in case it isn’t clear already: The iPhone 5 is one terrific smartphone. Ignore the naysayers — even without any awesome technological breakthroughs, it’s a sizable improvement on the iPhone 4S. For many upgrades, LTE alone will be worth the price of admission.

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9.0
Pocket-Lint Sep 19, 2012

The iPhone 5 is a phone that makes you feel safe. A phone that you know exactly how to use as soon as you take it out of the box and that is perfect for a wide range of people.

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9.0
ABC News Sep 21, 2012

The iPhone 5 is hands-down the best smartphone for the masses. While there are many other phones out there with similar spec sheets, this is the one all those people were waiting for.

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9.0
Eurogamer Sep 23, 2012

In a world where the typical mobile phone contract is now 24 months, perhaps the real comparison should be with the iPhone 4 and the older 3GS along with its contemporaries - that's where we truly see a night-and-day difference in performance, and where an upgrade makes the most sense.

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9.0
MacLife Oct 9, 2012

It’s sure to remain king of the smartphone mountain for another year until Apple figures out how to improve it some more--and I can’t wait to see how.

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8.0
CNET AU Oct 2, 2012

The changes to iPhone 5 and iOS will be appreciated by current users of the iPhone, but Apple's rigid design principles may have many looking to the alternatives.

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10
The Telegraph Sep 18, 2012

The iPhone 5 is a great smartphone made even better. It's fast, lightweight and backed by the largest application store for any device. It's also probably the most beautiful smartphone anyone has ever made.

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10
Daily Mail Sep 19, 2012

The level of care and engineering that has gone into the handset is unprecedented, and while iPhone owners are no doubt already reaching for their wallets, for anyone who was on the fence, the iPhone 5 puts clear water between Apple and its competitors.

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10
Digital Versus Oct 2, 2012

...the iPhone 5's primary selling points are a lighter body, quicker execution and excellent multimedia capacities. Its weaknesses? A GPS function in need of revision and average battery life that isn't quite enough for intensive use.

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9.0
Bloomberg Sep 18, 2012

The iPhone 5 is by no means perfect, and we’re lucky there are a lot of really good smartphones on the market. But only one great one.

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9.0
phoneArena Sep 23, 2012

Even though we’re still yearning for an updated platform experience with iOS, the iPhone 5 hits a grand slam homerun out of the park with its svelte design, sharp looking display, raw processing power, and detailed photo capturing quality to clear the bases entirely.

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9.0
TechRadar Sep 26, 2012

Ultimately, this is an iPhone that underwhelms in terms of specs, but packages it all together in a way that works.

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9.0
iMore Sep 26, 2012

Redesigned in every way but shape, compromised but true to its purpose, the iPhone 5 is once again the best iPhone Apple has ever made, and one of the best phones ever made. Period.

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8.0
CBC Sep 18, 2012

The iPhone 5 may not be terribly innovative, but it does deliver that package better than any previous Apple product, and better than just about any other smartphone.

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8.0
T3 Sep 19, 2012

Given that iPhone 4S users can upgrade to iOS 6 and do just about everything the iPhone 5 can do ... we reckon the smart money won’t all be going on a new iPhone this year, even if the mass market can’t get enough of it. It’s good, very good. But it’s no longer the best around.

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8.0
TrustedReviews Sep 21, 2012

If you are looking for something that pushes boundaries in terms of features you’ll be disappointed. No single hardware or software feature here stands out from the crowd aside from that design. But what a design.

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6.0
Gizmodo Australia Sep 25, 2012

It really is, then, the best and the worst iPhone yet. It’s the best speed, the best performance and the best screen we’ve seen on Apple’s flagship smartphone, but simultaneously, it’s the least polished, most annoying device with the worst software I’ve seen since OS X Lion.

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10
The Loop Sep 18, 2012

The iPhone is everything Apple said it would be and with iOS 6 built-in, it’s clear to me that Apple has another winner on its hands. I can’t think of any good reason why anyone wouldn’t upgrade or purchase the iPhone 5.

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10
BGR Sep 25, 2012

Apple’s iPhone represents more than sheet of specifications of processor speed, memory and screen inches, it represents the best of the best, refined every year, only like Apple can.

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9.0
Hardware Heaven Sep 21, 2012

Without doubt the best iPhone yet. Build quality is good but on a design and functionality front sadly it doesn't strive to be all that it could and falls a little short in a few key areas when compared to other high end handsets.

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9.0
Mobile Syrup Sep 23, 2012

The iPhone 5 is at once a modest and significant upgrade over the 4S. Improved in almost every way, it's LTE connectivity that is the most notable addition. An obvious upgrade for users of the iPhone 3GS or 4, but less so for the still-new 4S.

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9.0
HotHardware Sep 22, 2012

The iPhone 5 is the best iPhone ever. If you're working with an earlier iPhone, and you're eligible for a contract upgrade, don't hesitate to grab an iPhone 5 if you plan to stick with Apple. The iPhone 5 is everything the iPhone 4S was, but better.

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9.0
Mobile Tech Review Sep 23, 2012

The iPhone 5 is as ever a thoroughly enjoyable and capable smartphone. It's easy and fun to use and it's secure and stable. The latest generation model clearly gives users what they wanted (look how many have sold): LTE 4G and a larger display.

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9.0
IT Pro Portal Sep 24, 2012

The iPhone 5 has weaknesses, certainly on the software front with the new Apple Maps app ... However, on the whole the handset represents an excellent upgrade, being faster, incredibly light, and very nicely built, with improvements all round – from the cameras to the EarPods.

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10
Stuff Sep 19, 2012

It might not floor you in pictures, but in the flesh, the iPhone 5 is a delight. And if it feels just right, it performs even better, with flawless operation and a screen that's downright stunning.

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9.0
USA Today Sep 18, 2012

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

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First Looks

product preview
Engadget Sep 12, 2012

The metal feels downright elegant to the touch, and the same line we've said time and time again applies here: there's no doubting the premium fit and finish when you clutch one of these things ... use it for half an hour and you'll have a hard time going back to a slower chip.

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product preview
Wired Sep 12, 2012

Our overall impression of the iPhone 5: It’s another iPhone. Just longer. And better. Although there may not be one individual feature about it that makes you scream, “I’ve got to have it now!”, all the improvements together make it a gotta-have handset.

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product preview
AnandTech Sep 12, 2012

Overall after our short time with the iPhone 5 I'm very positive about the end result. The combination of new silicon and LTE alongside display and camera improvements craft a very positive outlook for Apple's iPhone line.

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product preview
Macworld Sep 21, 2012

Overall, while it feels like a very significant and substantial upgrade, it also still feels like the same old iPhone. For many of us, that’s a good thing.

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product preview
Laptop Magazine Sep 12, 2012

Overall, ... the iPhone 5 looks like a winner. It crams a lot of powerful new features into a first-class design that people will be clamoring for.

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product preview
PC Mag Sep 13, 2012

The iPhone 5 doesn't need to be the highest spec phone in the world. It needs to be a well-built, competitive phone that does everything you expect from an iPhone, better. It looks like Apple passed that test easily.

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product preview
Mashable Sep 12, 2012

At first glance, I’d say Apple has achieved something remarkable: making the iPhone bigger, more powerful, and possibly even better, without changing the way it feels in your hand.

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product preview
SlashGear Sep 12, 2012

In short, it’s a beautifully constructed, cohesive combination of design and materials: even if you’re not an iOS fan, you’ll have to appreciate the package Apple has put together. If, though, you are an iOS lover ... then the iPhone 5 is easily the best model yet.

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product preview
AppleInsider Sep 21, 2012

The most noticeable change to the iPhone 5 is the device's weight. Once it's picked up, the iPhone 5 is considerably lighter than the design of its predecessors, the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4. The larger screen is also noticeable once the device is picked up and powered on.

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product preview
IGN Sep 21, 2012

While the lightness of the phone may ultimately beat out even the expanded screen size as everyone's favorite new feature, I found myself continually surprised by the little changes and polished edges of the new phone.

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product preview
CNN Sep 13, 2012

The phone appears to be top-notch, its new body an impressive feat of engineering. It may not be the most mind-blowing upgrade, but that doesn't diminish its level of quality.

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product preview
Gadget Review Sep 21, 2012

In speaking to people about my impressions of the iPhone 5 I have continuously made one statement: it’s not a vast departure from the iPhone 4s... to the every day man the iPhone 5 is not a leap in technology.

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8.0
johnsies johnsies

The iPhone is the default for me when it comes to recommending a smartphone. Its fast and has a huge stable of apps. The design of the iPhone 5 like the 4/4S is a little too mechanical for me as it feels tenuous and uncomfortable in my hands despite being well-built. The height ads to issues...

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9.0
JSN JSN

Let's get right down to it. I came full circle with the iPhone. I started out with a 3, experienced some hiccups with it, had a not-so-great customer service experience at the Apple store so I promptly returned it. In that time I dabbled with Android and Windows. Those OS were good but equally...

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10
MacsFuture MacsFuture

The iPhone 5 is an amazing update to the previous iPhones, including the iPhone 4S. The first thing you notice is how incredibly light and thin it feels but still feels solid and like an incredibly premium device. It has a slightly larger 4 inch screen than the previous iPhones. But for me...

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10
justinhub2003 justinhub2003

After using android since day one with The G1 and being on a ever long quest for the best android phones, I ended up finding I was searching I'm the wrong place and iPhone 5 is easily the bar device . 15 android devices later, I found that all I needed was to get iPhone and I'd be happy.

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9.0
refractured refractured

I've upgraded from a iPhone 4, so that is the primary basis of comparison for this review. The iPhone 5 is, in every way possible, a better phone than the iPhone 4. Every. Single. Way. For iPhone 4S users, who *must* have the newest phone, it may be a slightly tougher sell, but the display, LTE,...

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10
perfectblu3 perfectblu3

The iPhone 5 is truly a superior piece of technology. Other reviews have detailed hundreds of pros and cons, but I feel that the iPhone 5 is a good example of how a product can be more than the sum of its parts. The iPhone doesn't have the biggest screen, most advanced communication technology,...

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9.0
Masongill22 Masongill22

Apple did a great job with this phone, but they need to add more of todays tech inside of it. Nfc, DNLA....Etc. I was very impressed with how snappy it was, but at the same time I am sick of the aged OS.

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8.0
vincelongman vincelongman

One of the best for portability because its small and light. Good battery life, I got through most of my day very moderate use. Still has the most apps and accessories. Great brightness, very accurate colors (second only to HTC One). Only problem is that its only 4". Very good looking design....

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8.0
AlrightMister AlrightMister

I am somewhat infatuated with iPhone 5. It is smooth and fast and pretty. I thought I wanted NFC and wireless charging and a fingerprint unlock like my Atrix 4G, but I don't miss them now. Well, fingerprint unlock would be sweet. I got what I wanted. Superfast, 16:9 retina, LTE, thin and light....

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