On Black Friday I was made aware of the fact that AT&T had refurbished iPhone 5s for sale. This caught my eye because the cost of refurbished iPhone 5s was $100.00 less than brand new ones and still came with the same warranty. On top of that my contract was up so I was eligible for one of those steeply subsidized discounts that are all the rage with cellular phone users. I upgraded my old iPhone 4 for a new black iPhone 5 with 64GB of storage.
Although I’ve only had the phone for a few hours I feel safe giving my initial impressions. Overall I like the new iPhone. Apple installed a taller screen that, thankfully, is the same width at the iPhone 4 screen (I can still operate the phone with one hand, something that becomes more difficult as phone width increases) and Long Term Evolution (LTE) radios. Another positive change is a mostly aluminum back plate, which I hope it more sturdy than the iPhone 4’s glass back plate (I never broke mine but I know many who did).
Beyond those changes, some notable hardware improvements, and a new connector (which I’ll rant about in a bit) the iPhone 5 is a standard iPhone. If you like the previous iPhones you’ll probably like the iPhone 5 and if you disliked the previous iPhones you’ll probably dislike the iPhone 5.
Compared to the iPhone 4 the iPhone 5 feels like a toy. That’s not to say it doesn’t feel sturdy, the phone doesn’t creak or make any other odd sounds when you press on it, it’s just light. In fact it’s so light that it feels like an empty casing in your hand when compared to the iPhone 4. I doubt the weight difference is going to be appreciated by anybody as it is a very minor thing but it’s still something to note.
Since I upgrade from an iPhone 4 I never had much hands on experience with Siri. Siri is a pretty nice feature and has worked reasonably well for the minor testing I’ve performed so far. I should note that I’ve had great success with voice recognition software on Android so my expectations were high from the beginning. My testing consisted of performing searches, sending text messages, opening applications, and telling Siri to go fuck herself. Overall I was impressed although I must note that many foreign works are not transcribed properly by Siri (try doing a search for Odin, Thor, or any other Norse god and you’ll be amused with the results you get). Siri also has a decent sense of humor. When I asked “Do you know HAL-9000?” the response was “Everybody knows what happened to HAL, I’d rather not talk about it. But if you insist:” and the option to search the web for HAL is available. Little touches like that amuse me greatly and I do appreciate the attention to detail in that regard.
I was surprised to find an LTE signal in my dwelling. As far as I knew AT&T had not rolled out LTE in the Twin Cities yet. Even though LTE comes with the promise of blazing speed I ran a speed test on my LTE connection and was left wanting. The average download speed was a pathetic 4.63Mbps and the average upload speed was an even more pathetic 2.56Mbps. Perhaps the slow speeds are due to the fact that LTE is technically rolled out in the Twin Cities yet or it could be due to a ton of iPhone 5 users connecting to the LTE tower and soaking up all the glorious bandwidth. Either way I plan to do more speed tests in the future to see if things improve.
One of the most notable changes on the iPhone 5 is the connector. Gone are the days of the 30-pin iPod connector that has served use so well. In its place we now have Apple’s new connector which they dub Lightening. What does this mean for you? It means all of those 30-pin connectors you’ve been collecting over the years are worthless. Considering the number of Apple devices I’ve purchased over the years this is a big headache for me. Of course Apple sells a 30-pin to Lightening adaptor but at $29.00 you’re better off buying new cables, which Apple only wants $19.00 for. I understand why Apple is moving away from the 30-pin connector as it takes up a notable amount of room but it’s still annoying.
Speaking of annoying Apple has included one of my biggest phone pet peeves on their newest phone; the headphone jack is on the bottom instead of the top. Granted moving the headphone connector is a minor inconvenience but it still pisses me off. Why should my phone be upside down just to have headphones plugged into it? Unless you’re going to say “It shouldn’t,” don’t bother answering that question because you’re wrong.
Overall I like the new iPhone although I will admit it’s not that much of an upgrade over the iPhone 4. If I had to summarize the difference between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 I would say the latter is merely a collection of nice, albeit minor, improvements that have become available over the last two years. Nothing about it is Earth shattering but I felt it was worth the upgrade cost. My feelings are obviously subject to change based on future experience but so far I’m impressed.