Today marks one week since Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, easily the biggest, most-hyped consumer tech launch of the year. The initial reactions to the announcement were mixed. While many commentators appreciated the device's comprehensive refinements and overall evolution from previous models, a pervading air of mild disappointment reflected the fact that many in the industry wanted the iPhone 5 to be something more -- and to go further in an exciting, risky new direction -- rather than provide a conservative degree of perfection.
The view that the iPhone 5 can be both completely amazing and utterly boring at the same time is perhaps understandable, but as we outlined last week, it's kind of important to keep your expectations (and gadget lust) in check too, especially since Apple's spin doctors are second to none. In any case, the early reviews on the iPhone 5 are now in (from outlets lucky enough to have been granted pre-release test units), and the overall consensus is largely positive (and a little breathless in places). We've rounded up some of the summations here, and we look forward to bringing you our own take once we get our hands on a review model:
The world’s most popular smartphone becomes significantly faster, thinner and lighter this week, while gaining a larger, 4-inch screen — all without giving up battery life, comfort in the hand and high-quality construction... 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.
All Things D
My experience with the iPhone 5, iOS and the EarPods has been great. 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.
The worst thing I can say about the device is that I slightly prefer the look of the glass back of the iPhone 4/4S to the new aluminum (with glass “windows” at the top and bottom) back found here. But I prefer the way the aluminum feels. And overall, I find the all-black look (including the sides and corners) to be much more appealing. “Does it come in black?,” Bruce Wayne asks Lucius Fox in Batman Begins. Yes, yes it does. This is without question the phone Batman would use... The iPhone 5 is the culmination of Apple doing what Apple does best. This is the smartphone nearly perfected.
Still, the iPhone 5 absolutely shines. Pick your benchmark and you'll find Apple's thin new weapon sitting at or near the top. Will it convince you to give up your Android or Windows Phone ways and join the iOS side? Maybe, maybe not. Will it wow you? Hold it in your hand -- you might be surprised. 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.
But a lot has changed in a year, and the current crop of Android superphones – and the incoming Windows Phone 8 handsets – have closed the gap. For nearly every “new” feature announced at the Keynote, there was a Samsung, Android, Windows, Nokia, Sony or HTC fan saying “my phone already does that.”... It’s good, very good. But it’s no longer the best around.
While the hardware and design here is cutting edge, the software plays it safer than we would like. For those of you that have already left the Apple eco-system for Samsung or HTC, for example, the iPhone 5 isn't likely to draw you back. You might marvel at the build and design, but Apple with the iPhone 5 has created a smartphone that is too safe for you: you'll feel too mollycoddled... It's a phone that, until you start craving the iPhone 6, will serve you very well indeed.
If you're looking for a show-off gadget, something with gee-whiz bells and whistles, then go somewhere else... except for the fact that people will inevitably want to see the iPhone 5 and grab it out of your hand. But, if you're looking for an excellent, well-conceived phone... well, here it is.
Should you upgrade? My answer is simple. If you can afford it, yes. There’s a reason why, just as with all five of its predecessors, it just says “iPhone” on the back. The iPhone 5 is all new technically, but it’s the exact same thing as an idea. Apple is simply improving upon that idea year after year in infinitely finer detail, like a fractal. It’s nice.