First Try: iPhone 5. Not only is this the coolest iPhone, it’s arguably the most attractive mobile phone yet made

view gallery VIEW GALLERY
4.00

The Independent was the first UK broadsheet to get hold of the iPhone 5

Another year, another iPhone. Though at first glance the iPhone 5 looks just like an iPhone 4S that has been stretched like toffee, there’s a lot more to it. We’ll come back to the new software on the iPhone next time – it’s the new hardware you want to hear about first, right?

Let’s start with the screen. It has the same pixel density as the iPhone 4S, that’s 326 pixels per inch or enough, Apple says, to mean you can’t see individual dots in normal use. But if you thought the Retina Display, as it’s called, introduced two and a bit years ago, couldn’t be improved, check this out. A new manufacturing process has eliminated layers to make it feel like it’s more in-your-face. The colour saturation is eye-popping: every time you look at it, you notice that it’s brighter and more vivid than before.

This is now a widescreen display, which takes some getting used to. Most phones have a wider or a shorter screen – the proportions are different here. The pay-off is an extra row of app icons and more real estate in the apps themselves. For many Apple programs like Mail and the word-processing app Pages, this looks great.

But third-party apps, for now, look as they always did, designed for a 3.5in display but now starring on a 4in version. There are black bars at either end. The first time I saw this, I found it deeply intrusive and disconcerting. Within five minutes I had failed to notice it any more.

None the less, it’ll be better when the app developers rejig their offerings to make the most of the extra space.

The iPhone 5 has a new processor, the A6, which promises to be twice as fast as the last model. It certainly nips along at great speed with nary a lag, whatever you’re doing.

Of course, the test of the CPU will come when using the phone in a 4G-compatible location. The new iPhone comes with 4G LTE capabilities. This means it has the latest, fastest data connectivity. But the UK’s first 4G LTE network is EE, parent company of T-Mobile and Orange. The EE 4G network is switched on but still in testing stage.

By Christmas, 16 UK cities will have this fast system in place, so there should be a substantial increase in data speeds, making movie streaming, web browsing and file downloads much faster than before. This is a key differentiator between the iPhone 5 and other phones in the UK.

There will be other 4G handsets – the Nokia Lumia 920 is due before the end of the year and is outstanding – but Apple’s is the first in the UK, even if the increased speeds are only available to EE customers.

Expect fast data to drain the juice more quickly, though this battery seems very efficient, with longer between-charge life than before.

If you’re buying the iPhone on O2 or Vodafone, the 3G data traffic will still be faster than on earlier Apple phones, though not a match for 4G. And if you’re a Three customer, you get a bonus later. Three will have 4G on the iPhone’s frequency, but it won’t go live until next autumn. Think of it as a speed boost halfway through your contract.

What all iPhone users will get on day one is the world’s slimmest smartphone (though don’t expect that record to stand for too long). It feels great in the hand – super light and thin enough to be a catwalk model. And the new aluminium back, smooth but matte and colour-matched the front of the phone, feels especially good to the touch. In the hand, this is leagues ahead of the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 5 camera, like last year, is an 8-megapixel snapper, but the redesigned phone has led to a smaller package. The wide aperture (f/2.0) is good, the backside illuminated sensor means more light gets through and the lens complex certainly delivers impressive shots.

And the new Panorama feature is enjoyable, creating wide landscape shots with a slow, sweeping movement: an onscreen arrow shows you if you’re going too fast (and it’ll be on the older iPhone 4S by the magic of a software update, too).

So what’s not so good? There’s a new, smaller docking connector which will be a nuisance for a lot of people. Sure, many speakers use Apple’s wireless AirPlay system instead of a dock – like Jawbone’s excellent Jambox and Pure’s versatile Sensia 200D radio. But there are millions of speakers in current use which have the old docking system.

The new connector is definitely better, and this change was always going to be a painful moment. You’ll need to buy an adaptor for £25. This price may drop, especially if third-party manufacturers can get in on the act, but for many this will be an annoyance.

There’s no NFC in the iPhone 5 – the contactless data transfer system that the London Underground Oyster card system uses, for instance. Lots of smartphones have this. Apple clearly decided that the technology is not ready, or anyway not desirable. And its absence will certainly slow NFC’s uptake elsewhere.

Oh yes, and there’s another new sim card. Just got used to that little micro-sim which Apple introduced and everyone else has now installed in its high-end blowers? Well, there’s another drop in size to the nano-sim included here. It’s only an issue if you switch sim cards between handsets. As some people do.

Overall, these are small complaints. This is a beautiful, powerful phone – Apple’s clean-cut, chic design language has reached new heights. More importantly it’s a phone that, once it’s in your hand, is very hard to resist.

The new features

Display

Screen is 4in, with 16:9 proportions for better video playback and is much more vivid and colourful.

Software

The new feature here is a much whizzier Maps app which includes photo-realistic 3D cityscapes for some areas.

Connector

The new, compact connector is easier to use, but many speaker docks will need an adaptor.

Panorama

Camera includes a neat Panorama function: sweep phone sideways and software stitches images together.

4G

Has prospect of super-fast internet using 4G network. But it'll only be available to customers of EE (or as you know it, Orange and T-Mobile).

French store staff threaten to spoil party

Staff at Apple's two stores in Paris are threatening to take strike action on Friday's highly anticipated launch day for the iPhone 5.

Talks are reported to have broken down over the workers' demands for wage increases as well as better working conditions including a drinking fountain, lunch vouchers and holiday vouchers.

Staff are also requesting a "13th month" of pay, a practice common in France where an additional month's basic salary is granted at the end of the year.

News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

    £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Hosting Support Agent

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading web hosting pr...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn