Sleek, quick and beautiful: Apple sets new standard


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The Independent Online

If you have an iPhone 4S and weren't planning to upgrade to the iPhone 5, make sure you never let the new model fall into your hand – because you'll be left with an overwhelming sense of envy.

The iPhone 5 is beautiful: noticeably slimmer, perceptibly lighter and very high-end. Not only is this the coolest iPhone, it's arguably the most attractive mobile phone yet made – photographs don't do it justice.

Queues are already forming at Apple's flagship stores in London as customers wait to buy the iPhone 5 when it goes on sale on Friday. Two million handsets have been ordered online in three days.

But are there really enough improvements to make it worth buying, at £529 for the cheapest 16GB version? After all, a smartphone operating system can be improved post-sale, giving an older phone a new life. Many standout features of the iPhone 5 will today also be available to download free of charge to the iPhone 4S, as soon as owners update their system software. These include the photo-realistic 3D Maps app, and Siri, the voice recognition program.

But many of the improvements cannot be downloaded. The sleek new look with its matte aluminium back will clinch it for many. Not to mention the new processor which is twice the speed of the iPhone 4S. The killer upgrade will come later, though only for some users. Orange and T-Mobile customers can take advantage of the 4G connectivity the iPhone 5 offers.

Apple's biggest smartphone rivals include handsets which are arguably more innovative than the iPhone, like Nokia's forthcoming Lumia 920 with wireless charging. But Apple's software store is more heavily populated, with 700,000 apps, and it's still hard to beat the iPhone's ease of use.

Apple's skill is to combine hardware that's highly appealing, software that is superbly intuitive and an unbeaten understanding of what the phone-buying public really desires.