iPhone 5: Best And Worst Features

iPhone 5: Best And Worst Features

The launch hype rolls on, but we’ve now got a much better picture of what the iPhone 5 will be capable of — and more markedly, what it won’t.

Clearly there are those who will rush out to buy an iPhone 5 next Friday (or order one online from 5:01pm today); Apple’s got a reasonably large and loyal following that way. Having given it a little bit of time to let the launch dust settle, I’ve been mulling over why (or why not) I’d want to buy one.

There’s been a fairly solid “meh” reaction to the iPhone 5’s launch, and it did strike me yesterday afternoon that part of that might be down to the fact that just about every tiny detail about it leaked out prior to the launch. As such, there were no wow features, because there was little we didn’t already know. It’s also an evolutionary step, and I think that put some people off — although quite how many of them would buy an iPhone is a question unto itself. It also reminds me of the Galaxy S III launch; there were plenty of expectant fans when that rolled around, and while it’s a good phone, there was some bitching at the time about whether Samsung had delivered enough “wow” factor.

Disclaimer: I review pretty much every handset on the Australian market. Currently, a 4S is my day-to-day phone. Last year, that task was taken up by the Galaxy S II. Make of that what you will, but you might want to read this first.

So what are the “best” new features worth upgrading for?

  • It’s faster — or at least it should be. I think this has been largely overlooked; Apple’s upped the specification for the internal processor, and it has very tight control over the code. Just as Microsoft got a lot out of single core processors in Windows Phone 7 by controlling the hardware, Apple’s managed to wring a lot out of its hardware control. With a better processor should come a more responsive phone. This is, still, ultimately an improvement on its predecessor, in other words.
  • It’s 4G — and not just for the US. Unlike the 3rd Generation iPad, the iPhone 5’s inbuilt 4G capabilities will actually work here on both Telstra and Optus’ networks.
  • The screen’s larger, but shouldn’t feel larger in the hand. That’s a personal preference thing, to be sure; I’ve got no issue with larger smartphones, but I’ve found over time that I just don’t find them all that comfortable for day to day usage. Every time I use one over a longer period, I start to find myself thinking that I could be doing the same large-screen tasks a little better on a tablet (whether that’s my Nexus 7 or iPad). This one will definitely need some hands-on time, though.

So much for the good stuff. What’s holding me back?

  • The stuff we don’t get. Luke over at Gizmodo has highlighted one of the main ones, being the lack of Australian turn-by-turn navigation in iOS 6. That’ll affect the 4S as well, naturally, but that’s in my hand right now. It’s genuinely baffling why we’re missing out on this particular feature. There’s also the features that could have fallen into wish list territory, like microSD card compatibility (I can dream) or a 128GB iPhone, which again feels like something we’ve waited an age for.
  • The lightning connector. Change is painful, but this is markedly painful, because not only does the connector’s adaptor cost $35 (or $45 if you want a 20cm cable with it), but it won’t pass through video, won’t sit well on most docks, and the new connector only uses USB 2.0 speeds anyway. If you’re going to change things up, why not either go with the microUSB standard (which would also neatly work within the EU mandates for such things), or at least bring an interface to market which will sync faster?
  • 4G’s about to get a whole lot slower. This one’s not precisely Apple’s fault, but it’s almost a certainty. The iPhone 5 is 4G, and it’ll no doubt be quite popular. That’ll up the number of people on 4G networks (where they’re available), and reduce the overall network speed for everyone markedly.

    That’s my current take on the iPhone 5; I’m waiting to get my hands on a review model in order to work out whether it’s a worthy upgrade or not. What’s your view?


  • “Every time I use one over a longer period, I start to find myself thinking that I could be doing the same large-screen tasks a little better on a tablet”

    Yep, I own a GS3 and it pretty much feels that way.
    I’ll be waiting to hear what you think of the size of the new iPhone.

  • I’ll be getting an iPhone 5 as soon as I possibly can, simply because I’ve been holding onto the 3GS since I hated the look of the 4 and 4S, and now it’s starting to play up on me.

    I won’t be swapping from an iPhone to anything else just yet, because I like the interface and the design. It does everything I want it to, so why change?

    • Finally, some sense!

      I absolutely enjoyed owning and using my iPhone 4 since I got it on the first week of launch (that makes it 26 months – usually I get a new phone every year), and I’m glad they didn’t mess with the formula. People are complaining because they look the same, but hey, I don’t want change just for the sake of change – Apple nailed it from the start.

      I’ve pre ordered mine, and at the end, I’m buying a better version of a phone I’ve used an loved 🙂

      • then you are missing out mate haha
        i have an nfc tag on my debit card that i tap to the back of my phone and *Pop*
        Internet banking is open.
        Get into the car, feel like listening to music over aux? tap phone to nfc tag on dashboard
        Spotify opens, bluetooth turns on and connects to hands free, gps turns on, media volume max

        and those are just 2 examples 🙂

        • “i have an nfc tag on my debit card that i tap to the back of my phone and *Pop*
          Internet banking is open.”

          Hmmm… that sounds like a secure setup ??? Just hope you don’t lose your “stuff” anywhere ever.

          Much like bluetooth was about 8-10 years ago… NFC is currently a solution waiting for the (real-world) problem to emerge. One day in the future we’ll all be using it, and wondering how we ever did without it. But it’s not there yet. Still more gimmick than practical.

          • ” that sounds like a secure setup ??? ”

            Many debt cards already have NFC now – that’s the paywave thing (or very closely related). His phone will just be associating the code coming from his card with an action (in this case, open his banks website/app)

          • Just cause a lot of cards already have it doesn’t mean it is secure. From what I understand someone can engineer a device that does the same thing as paywave, charging every people they walk by. Mind you, you can only charge a few dollars but that can add up pretty quickly if you do it in the cbd of a major city. Easy money.

  • I will wait and see. It is very likely that i will stick with my iPhone 4 or “upgrade” to a 4s.
    I have a good working solution in my car with my existing head unit and that needs the old connector. If I swap the usb plug to the new USB connection there is no guarantee yet that the iPhone 5 will work.

    Im disappointed that a more elegant solution to the convertor wasn’t made. if the phones are the “same” width why can’t a convertor be made to convert so that old docks will hold the phone better and no be so tall and ugly.

  • i call the lack of NFC a downside, its no globally loved feature or anything but nfc powered mobile wallets are taking off and i have various nfc tags around the place that automate many things for me so i would be highly annoyed by not having it, apple is also pretty much the only top shelf device to launch recently without it (apple consider themselves in the same bracket as the s3 and one x etc so only fair to compare)

  • “Every time I use one over a longer period, I start to find myself thinking that I could be doing the same large-screen tasks a little better on a tablet”

    I don’t get you guys – Screaming for a larger display then bitch about it what it finally comes out – the phone is only 10cm longer for F.. sake.

  • Given that the Galaxy S3 massively outsold the iPhone 4 and 4s, and it has 4g, I don’t think the argument of “4G will be popular now” holds too much weight

  • The stuff that’s holding me back isn’t the same, I’m happy with my paid navigation app, the lightning connector gets rid of the single biggest user annoyance of having to insert cable “the right way up” (and my syncing is done over WiFi so the speed’s not an issue), and as I’m with Vodafone the 4G-ness doesn’t matter.
    All that’s holding me back is that there’s no “killer” reason to want to have one. I rarely watch videos or run apps where the slightly bigger screen would matter, it looks more or less the same physically, I’m happy with the camera, the performance is fine and the other changes will come to earlier devices as iOS6.

  • Anybody else think the back of the iPhone 5 looks less elegant than the iPhone 4? The aluminum bit looks very tacky compared to the glass design. Also the iPod nano looks very Nokia lumina-ish and frankly cheap. Things are slipping a bit with Jobs out of the game.

  • Correction: There was no ‘wow’ moments in the presentation because there were no ‘wow’ features at all, not because they were leaked prior to the day.

  • I’m so happy that someone pointed out that it’s faster and it should be because of a faster CPU. Also, longer battery life, that’s because it has a bigger battery now, same thing as the CPU.

  • I’m starting to think that now I have a tablet (N7), I’d actually prefer my phone to be smaller rather than larger. I was looking at the iPhone 5 and Samsung GS3 4G but now I might have a look at the smaller Motorola phone.

    • I’ve had some hands-on time with the RAZR M; it’s a nice smaller phone with a decent amount of responsiveness — and certainly a cut above much of the rest of the Android pack at that size in terms of what’s included under the hood.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!