Wednesday, September 12, 2012

iPhone 5: Bigger, Longer (An Uncut first Impression)

The liveblog for the iPhone 5 is rolling in as I type. The details are coming in fast and furious, but it looks like a pretty worthy and substantial update. Every year the internet gets excited over broken video feeds and stuttering liveblogs (shoutout to the folks at iMore, you've become my number one source for Apple news, great content) It's the modern equivalent to the huddled masses peeking into a crowded carnival barker's tent, and for some reason every year it seems interesting.

The upgrades to the iPhone 5 are substantial, if not a little predictable. New panorama mode, picture taking during video is very welcome. Sounds like the image quality has gone up slightly. FaceTime over cellular is long overdue, but of limited use so far. There are other apps that let you do videophone over cellular  data, but so far they haven't been a prime time product. LTE will change that, so true to Apple, they haven't released an implementation before it was truly workable. Of all the things about the 4s, the phone was probably one of the most surprising. You know when you clip a mini Swiss Army knife onto your key chain and it can do many things, but there's one tool that you go back to over and over again: the scissors. The camera on the iPhone is like the scissors of a Swiss Army knife now.

Mixed feelings about the taller display. More is obviously better, but my preference has always been for a more compact device. The iPhone is now a legitimate business phone (if you don't need the security or keyboard of a Blackberry), and the 4 and 4s were svelt enough to slip discretely into work trousers without being noticed. Glad they kept the focus on one-handed operation. One thing though. In two years time, maybe all phones will be gigantic. Might the iPhone 6 go a step further and add in an extra column, pushing the width to 800 pixels?

Has anything changed if you're not in a position to upgrade?  Not yet. The 4s is a pretty mature device. For 90% of what you need it for, it does with alacrity. Smartphones are about making the in-between time in your day go faster or be more productive, and most modern phones do that well now. Still, I wouldn't hesitate to say that the jump from the 4s to the 5 looks pretty big at the moment, but your mileage may vary, especially depending on LTE availability.


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