iPhone 5 leading from the back - review

The iPhone 5 is the latest device from Apple. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
The iPhone 5 is the latest device from Apple. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Cape Town – The iPhone 5 is arguably one of the best looking smartphones on the market, but the question remains on whether Apple is still able to out-innovate its rivals in an increasingly competitive environment.

The latest Apple smartphone is larger than the previous model and as one would expect from a premium device, the touch experience is excellent on the 10cm high definition display, protected with Gorilla Glass and resistant to fingerprint smudges.

One of the bigger selling points of the new iPhone is its compatibility with LTE (Long Term Evolution) mobile networks and in SA, it’s mainly available in Gauteng on Vodacom, though MTN has also launched a next-generation network with speeds up to around 40mbps.

When using the iPhone though, one receives an SMS that the manufacturer has not yet enabled LTE on the device.

While Apple fans will no doubt love the new device with its metal case that is a major improvement from the fragile glass of earlier models, the iPhone has to deliver performance to convince new segments of the market that may not care about its heritage.

And in this, it’s hard to see how Apple can retain bragging rights as the top dog when it comes to hardware that powers the iPhone.

Slowdowns


It has a 1.2GHz dual core processor mated to 1GB of RAM which puts the smartphone at the lower end of the top specifications of devices in SA.

On the other hand though, the iOS 6 operating system doesn’t require the top-end hardware to produce a smooth experience as Android devices do and there were no obvious slowdowns noticed on the iPhone throughout the review period.

On mobile networks, the iPhone comes into its own and, unlike Android-powered devices, it is kinder to the user’s data bundle, but it’s worth the effort to disable app notifications as well as limiting ad tracking which may save mobile data usage.

On the Vodacom network, the device tested well, but the battery was a let-down, needing to be charged twice per day with average use.

The 8 megapixel camera was well-matched to a decent aperture which results in good pictures and video in high definition, but a hero feature of the camera is the panorama feature which is very clever in the way it captures images. The image quality surpasses those of point-and-shoot cameras.

Low light can still confuse the sensor though, and it lacks the optics quality of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, the HTC 8X Windows Phone and Nokia Lumia 920 devices.

The new iPhone weighs in at an acceptable 112g but certainly doesn’t feel cheap. A memory card slot would be a nice addition, but Apple has reckoned that its user base is happy with 16GB of memory and iTunes to manage content.

Alternatives

If you are one those people who were disappointed outside the Vodacom stores when they were sold out on the iPhone at launch, don’t despair. Alternatives include the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the HTC One X, and the Nokia Lumia 920.

The iPhone is a fan favourite, but people looking for a king-of-the-hill device, the iPhone 5 doesn’t necessarily deliver all the goods.

Hope for a better processor, micro-SD card slot, and 4G-capable battery in the iPhone 6. Indeed, one could have all the features of the iPhone, sans phone and SMS in the new iPod Touch which retails for R3 199.

The iPhone retails from R8 299 and is available from Vodacom at R499 per month on a Smart Standard 24 month contract.


- Follow Duncan on Twitter
 
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