A Different Perspective on the iPhone 5

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I followed the news about the release of the new iPhone with more interest than usual, because my iPhone 3G was getting long in the tooth, and I decided a few months ago that I would upgrade when the new phone hit the streets. That’s right, I kept my old iPhone through four generations before upgrading. I think that in itself says a lot about the iPhone. It remained a useful tool for a full four years, a year longer than the best I had from any previous phone. And at the end of its service it was still in good working order, which is more than I can say for any of its predecessors.

But at this stage, I was entitled to a maximum hardware upgrade, and the new iPhone 5 offered enough new features that I could justify the cost. A lot of the new iPhone reviews that I have read over the last few years complain that the next generation phone offered just a few minor upgrades, and were evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Well, just as biological evolution can, over time, create whole new species, so the evolution of the iPhone can produce a marvellous new machine.

I brought the new phone home, connected it to my computer, and synced it. What a beautiful experience. After about 10 minutes my new phone was ready to go. All my settings, my contacts, my email, my apps, were all in place, just like my old phone. I was up and fully functional just like that, which allowed me to concentrate on trying out the new features.

The iPhone 5 is the first iPhone to offer LTE cellular service. I am lucky enough to live in a city that is well served by LTE, and is it FAST! I used the free Speed Test app to check my internet speeds. Connected to LTE, the worst speed that I have seen is 12 GB down, and I routinely see speeds of 40 or 50. That’s 3 or 4 times faster than I get with my home internet connection, and 10 times faster than my old phone. Also, the iPhone offers a service called Personal Hotspot, so I can quickly and easily share my cell phone’s internet connection with my laptop or iPad.

The camera is amazing. I have often preached the idea that you should always have a camera with you to capture those once in a lifetime moments. The iPhone camera is up to the task. Its 8 megapixel sensor is worlds above the 2 megapixel camera in my old 3G, and has fantastic low light performance. And the panorama mode is amazing. I took some panos of the fall colours in Algonquin Park, and they are immersive and wonderful. As a bonus, the camera does double duty as an HD video camera.

The iPhone 5 also features a rear facing camera to allow video calling using iChat or Skype.

Lets talk about speed. Everything about this phone is fast. The apps open fast. App switching is fast. In a pinch, I could read an ebook on my old phone, but it was painful because the page turns were so slow. With the new phone, and its larger screen, ebook reading is a pleasure. And thanks to iCloud syncing, I can read a few pages on my phone, and pick up at the right spot on my iPad when I return home. Thanks to the improved speed, I can now run Keynote from my phone, so I have an ultra portable presentation machine in my pocket at all times.

There have been a lot of complaints about the new maps on the iPhone 5, but I have not had any problems, and I understand that the maps will quickly get better as people use them. The addition of turn by turn directions makes the new phone a fully capable GPS.

Speaking of complaints, there has been a lot of moaning about the new dock connector. I do have some accessories that used the old connector, and I will be picking up an adaptor to use them. But I have to say, the new connector is clearly superior to the old one, and I am sure that we will all look at the old connector as an obsolete dinosaur in a year or two.

My old phone was a very useful tool. The combination of Phone, and PDA and internet in one small box was great, and served me well for many years. But with the new phone, I feel like I really have a portable computer in my pocket. I can’t imagine what I will replace it with in another four years!

P.S. I am now using my old iPhone 3G as a very nice little music player.