The iPhone 5 was launched yesterday and while many of the features were already known about they have also been long overdue. This marks the most significant redesign since the iPhone 4 in 2010 and we’re sure it is easily going to become the bestselling iPhone of all time.
The iPhone has always used a 3.5 inch screen, but as the competition has been getting larger and larger there have been calls from many iPhone fans for a bigger screen too. Three and half inches were ideal a few years ago but larger screens are more suited to the sort of things that people expect to do with a modern smartphone, such as play games, spend time on social networks, or stream online video content.
The great thing about the iPhone 5’s screen is that Apple has managed to make it larger and more spacious without turning the phone into an overbearing brick that’s uncomfortable to hold and difficult to carry on your person. On the contrary, while the phone is marginally taller it maintains the same width and is just as easy to hold as earlier iPhones.
Due to the use of in-cell panels the screen is also much thinner, which has allowed Apple to make the iPhone 5 thinner (18% thinner at 7.6mm) and 20% lighter at just 112 grams. In-cell panels combine the touch sensors with the LCD display rather than having one layer sat on top of the other, and the LCD panels now offer 40% more colour saturation too.
As earlier iPhone screens have all used the same proportions, and the iPhone 5 is the first to deviate quite dramatically with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, iOS has needed a bit of an overhaul to get things working perfectly. With an extra 176 pixels in height, native apps are now able to display more content.
For example, more emails can be displayed in your inbox, more tweets on your Twitter, and more content on your Facebook news feed. Many major third party apps have also been redesigned to fit the new dimensions. Older apps won’t be stretched or distorted; they will simply run in a letterbox mode with black bars appearing either side.
The new layout also means that more app icons can be displayed on the home screen – so you now have five rows of icons where you previously only had four.
Faster Downloads with LTE
LTE was available last year at the time Apple launched the iPhone 4S but it was not included in that phone. LTE coverage, in countries where it was available, was patchy to say the least. More importantly, there wasn’t even a faint glimmer of LTE on the UK horizon.
But the ball has now started rolling in the UK. Ofcom has pencilled in the rollout of 4G for the end of this year, and Everything Everywhere has been granted permission to offer LTE in the UK even earlier. The new LTE network, EE, will be the first to offer 4G phones in the UK and one of its first handsets will be the iPhone 5.
LTE offers significantly great download speeds compared to 3G. While 3G can typically download at 1.5MBps, EE’s new LTE network has demonstrated speeds of up to 34MBps. That means you could download a 34 megabyte file in just one second, or an entire movie in less than a minute.
You will no longer need to worry about large email attachments, or have to wait while your YouTube video finishes buffering midway through your viewing. LTE may also add many benefits to Siri has it will be able to answer your questions in a much more timely manner.
As well as LTE the iPhone 5 benefits from improved Wi-Fi support, with 802.11n 5GHz Wi-Fi which will provide wireless connection speeds of 150Mbps. Whether on Wi-Fi or data connections, the iPhone will be the fastest internet experience you have ever held in your hand.
New Camera Improvements
The camera is still 8 megapixels but has some excellent improvements added. For one, it is much better at spatial noise reduction and even better in low light settings without a flash. Photo capture speed is also 40% faster than it was with the iPhone 4S.
Images will now be added to Photo Stream which has been integrated with Facebook, so right away your friends and family can comment on and like your images. Sharing photos on Facebook has never been easier and no other phone offers this level of integration directly from the camera.
A new panorama mode has also been added which allows you to automatically combine several images into a much larger photo that is an impressive 28 megapixels in size.
As well as this, improvements have been made to image stabilisation for the video camera, and this can now detect up to ten faces at once. FaceTime calls can now be made via 3G and with the addition of LTE support will become a much more viable option for many people. In fact, it is with the iPhone 5 that FaceTime will really become widely adopted and video calls will no longer be restricted to Wi-Fi, so expect to be able to make FaceTime calls wherever you are.
New Lightning Dock Connector
Along with the larger screen the new dock connector is perhaps the biggest thing to shake up the iPhone ecosystem since 2007. The new connector is called Lightning for a reason: it is significantly faster than the older 30 pin connector and much more reliable.
The great thing about Lightning is that it is reversible; it can be inserted into the iPhone either way and you don’t need to worry about checking if a cable is in the correct orientation like you would with the old connector or with microUSB.
The new connection is also 80% smaller than the old design and so is far less intrusive. We had heard rumours about this new dock connector prior to the iPhone 5 launch and it had caused concern for many iPhone users who were worried about having to completely replace their collection of iPhone accessories.
This is not a problem as the iPhone 5 will come with an adaptor to convert the old 30 pin design to Lightning (purchased separately). A number of accessory manufacturers had also been working closely with Apple prior to the iPhone 5 launch to develop new accessories for the Lightning design.
Another great thing to hear is that the iPhone will no longer be cut off from the wider phone industry on its own proprietary island, as a Lightning to microUSB adaptor will also be released. With this handy adaptor you will be able to borrow somebody else’s non-Apple phone charger in times of emergency.
All of these features are next to useless if your iPhone runs out of battery 5 minutes after you leave home. That is why Apple has been working hard at improving battery life for the iPhone 5. As the new iPhone is much taller Apple has been able to include a more powerful battery that offers an impressive 10 hours talk time, 8 hours 3G use and even 8 hours of using LTE.
In our recent poll we found that this was the number one thing that people wanted to see with the iPhone 5. A better battery trumped LTE, Facebook integration, and the larger screen, as the thing that would make the biggest difference to consumers. Thankfully, Apple has been listening and has delivered on its promises.