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9.0
final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Reception and call quality No issues at all. Sounds clearer than my last phone. great!
  • Display Amazing display, sharp as hell. No issues in direct sunlight. great!
  • Battery life Extremely impressed by the battery life, especially since it's an LTE phone. Can definitely last an entire day for me. great!
  • Camera Sharp images, short shutter lag. The low light is pretty decent as well considering it's a phone. great!
  • Ease of use Level of expertise to use this phone is pretty low. great!
  • Design and form factor Really nice looking phone, but my hand beckons for some curves. good
  • Portability (size / weight) Light and sturdy, really pocketable. great!
  • Media support Supports a decent amount of media types. If you like to get movies in other ways, you're stuck converting. so-so
  • Durability My antennae has a scuff on it out of the box. Time will tell how well this stands up, but my guess it's going to have some minor battle scars. good
  • Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.) Best thing about having an iPhone is access to apps. Accessories-wise, it's a little sparse, but with time it should get better. good
Detailed review
I'm a former Android user, for the time being, coming from a Motorola Droid X (gdgt.com­/motorola­/droid­/x­/reviews­/4ee/). I also wrote a review for iOS 6: gdgt.com­/apple­/ios­/6­/reviews­/t6a/.

--Favorite things about the iPhone 5:

Goodbye Mr. Blurrycam
The iPhone 5 camera is one of the best you can find on a phone. I'm able to get more sharp, in focus images with the iPhone, even in some low light conditions, than I did with my old phone. Generally, picture quality is great with ton of detail. This was something that I was most looking forward to and it has met my expectations.

Screentastic
When I first saw the iPhone 4 display, I was pretty damn impressed. I think iPhones always had pretty great displays, but the high pixel density puts it over the top and not that I experiencing it day to day, having a screen with a PPI of 300+ is pretty much a necessity for me at this point. I'm really impressed by the visibility of the screen in direct sunlight, text and images are perfectly readable when I'm outside. Also, I give a lot of credit to Apple for getting down auto-brightness. It adjusts perfectly when I go from indoors to outdoors, which is something that I had some issues with on my old phone. Oh, another thing on quality, I was looking at pictures from my old phone and they looked BETTER on the iPhone.

Smaller is better
Using an 4.3" Android for around two years, I was pretty convinced that I'd have a hard time adjusting to a smaller screen size when it came to just having a larger image, but especially when it came to typing. After using this phone for a bit, I can say that I'm very happy with the smaller size. One-handed operation is worlds better and I don't feel as cramped as I thought I would be when it comes to typing. Don't get me wrong, I think I could benefit from having some additional width on the screen, but it's not a deal breaker. I really appreciate the thinner, lighter design too. It's pretty effortless to get it in and out of my pocket. I still use my old phone for some things and it feels like a brick in comparison.

--What I would change about the iPhone 5:

Fit like a glove
The best phone I've ever held was the Palm Pre. The nice curves conformed to my hand well, so it was really great to hold. While I do like the industrial look of the iPhone, it's just a tad bit edge-y.

Scratchy McScratcherson
I'm one of the unlucky people who got a phone with a tiny scuff on the side. I figure if there's a scuff on it without me even using it, it's going to look like hell after a few months of use. I'm not sure if there's any material out there that give a nice balance between svelte aesthetics and durability, but if there is, I hope they use it.

Camera button (no cool title for this)
iPhone has a camera button (volume up button), but it's not a real camera button. My old phone has a two-stage, dedicated camera button and it was awesome being able to pre-focus. But the best thing about it was it's location. When I take a picture, I like to rotate my phone counterclockwise in my left hand and I instinctively press my right pointer finder to take a picture, but there's no button there. Apple will never do this, but this was one thing that I have yet to erase from my muscle memory. I'll give it more time.

tl;dr: iPhone 5 hardware is great.
review history
2012-10-03
Updated detailed review

Comments (3) subscribe to this review's comments

peterto

The volume up button can be used to take photos, unless that's the "non-real button" you were referring to.
cass

@peterto Yeah, referring to the volume up button. Just isn't as good.
frankspin

FWIW most Android phones do not have a dedicated camera buttons.