Since the Apple iPhone was introduced to the world by Steve Jobs at Apples now iconic 2007 Macworld event, the hit handset has torn though the smartphone market and changed the whole mobile landscape in terms of who holds the majority market share, which companies are still competitors and it also introduced a whole new world and method of accessing content and media online; applications. Argue as you like, however Apple set a whole new standard for what a smartphone should be 5 years ago and raised the bar so high that it took competitors over 2 years to come up with a real-world alternative.
Now, in 2012, the iPhone 5 is here and it is undoubtedly the best iPhone yet. With an all new design (albeit similar to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S) it has ported across everything that was aesthetically pleasing about prior Apple handsets and simply made it better; the back is now durable aluminium, all major antennas and chips which require signal are located towards the top of the handset where glass allows for easy connecting, and the sides of the handset are polished in such a way that an almost mirror like finish is achieved. It truly is a fantastic handset to both look at and hold, and with iOS 6 running on it the iPhone has never been more a productive device than it is now.
As with the iPhone 4S when it came to be in 2011 however, questions and concerns have been raised from consumers who want to know whether the iPhone 5 is a genuine upgrade from the iPhone 4S of last year. To answer that, you need to think about what you want from your smartphone because for all intents and purposes, the iPhone 4S is not a bad handset in the slightest and is just a victim of Apple’s evolutionary product portfolio.
Let’s take a look at whether the iPhone 5 is a viable upgrade over the iPhone 4S then, taking in to account the iPhone 5’s new found speed and larger display specifically, two major features being marketed by Apple.
The iPhone 5 is faster than the iPhone 4S, but it doesn’t so much as ‘smoke’ it
A smartphone can only be as fast as the software which runs on it. If you take a look at Apple’s main competition, namely top-end Android powered devices which are competitors to the iPhone 5, those smartphones are getting blisteringly fast now with thanks to recent software upgrades including the Ice Cream Sandwich of last year and the Jelly Bean of this year.
Although Android has had to be developed, tweaked and fettled with in order to be transformed from a laggy geeky mobile operating system in to a great looking fast experience however iOS has never lagged and has always been fast and responsive to use. It is pretty much as un-system heavy as it can possible be, and as such it runs superbly on the iPhone 4S’s dual-core processor. Applications launch within a blink of the eye, sliding between home screens never stutters or stalls, and even with 10 or so paused apps it keeps on trucking. You would imagine then that the iPhone 5, with a higher clocked processor, would be much much faster.
It is, well at least the iPhone 5 is faster but it isn’t as noticeable as you would think. Yes it is faster, something which can be proven when opening system heavy games like Real Racing, however during everyday usage you wouldn’t feel hard done to by switching back to an iPhone 4S after a days’ worth of iPhone 5 use. It’s only marginally faster through everyday usage than the 4S, so unless you are an iPhone 4 (without the S) owner, the speed of the iPhone 5 will not blow you away at first.
With a 0.5-inch bigger screen than any other iPhone, this is the 5’s key selling point
Some people honestly believe in this day and age that a 3.5-inch screen is the best size to have on a smartphone. Whilst that may be true if you have hands the size of a mouse’s paw, 4-inch screen smartphones when sat next to a ‘last generation’ iPhone look mighty impressive and every single iPhone user I have ever talked to has complimented my own smartphone, the HTC One X, on its display. Of course the people I have talked to do not include the whole iPhone using community, but you get my point (or at least I hope you do).
Thankfully when Apple unveiled their iPhone 5 last month we saw for the first time that the Cupertino based company do indeed employ designers with hand spans measuring larger than those of a new born baby, because the company have done something truly magical; the iPhone 5 has a 4-inch display, an engineering achievement which long term iPhone users would probably rate as highly as the second coming of one biblical character with a name beginning with the letter ‘J’.
It’s a great screen too, joking aside. It features the exact same width as prior 3.5-inch screens however it is taller, which has numerous benefits for the end user. Video, for example, can now be displayed in a true 16:9 aspect ratio, web pages now display for more information and there is more room for applications to show data. The display features reported better colour saturation than that of the 4S’s too, whilst the screen is still ‘retinafied’ at 326 pixels per inch.
It isn’t all good news however, because Apple has seen fit to not utilize the extra 0.5-inchs of real-estate on the iPhone 5 very well. For example the home screen which on prior iPhone’s showed 4 grids of icons now displays 5 grids of icons, instead of any tangible information from widgets or handy on-screen notifications such as your latest mail, @ reply on Twitter or text message.
The end result of the above is quite simple; yes the iPhone 5 has a bigger display than the iPhone 4S, but it isn’t magically more useful; sure web pages are now easier to read, and sure that extra row of icons may answer some wants from consumers who perhaps have all their most useful apps clearly available on their main home screen, however all in all you simply won’t be left thinking ‘wow, this upgrade was worth it for this display’. This is Apple’s fault, naturally, who decided that widgets or action bars were not needed nor wanted by Apple iPhone users.
If you have just read through my whole article I just wanted to congratulate you because at 1,087 words above alone, that’s a lot of information about two products to digest, so let me make this very simple for you:
The iPhone 5 is not a significant upgrade from the iPhone 4S, despite Apple’s impression that it is. It features a faster processor than the iPhone 4S (which was no slow handset to begin with), and it features a bigger display which all in all hasn’t been fully utilized due to Apples software team deciding that an extra row of icons is what people wanted this year. If you want my official verdict, you should wait for the iPhone 5S due for release in 2013 and stick to your iPhone 4S for now. After all, the iPhone 4S is a mighty fine handset anyway, and is plenty fast enough for today’s super-paced digital world.
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About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is a professional self-employed blogger and the founder / owner of Technology Blogged. 22, with a love for good writing, you'll find me playing 'Drag Racing' on my HTC One X and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to my feed for unique editorials. Find me on Google+. View author profile.