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Apple iPhone 5 Early Hands-on Expert Review

The Apple iPhone 5 has finally been confirmed and T3 was there to get a first look at the Cupertino brand’s new slimline smartphone.

As well as being Apple’s skinniest phone yet, the new iPhone 5 also sports 4G LTE connectivity, and a slightly longer screen with a 1136 x 640-pixel resolution, while the new A6 chip is twice as fast as previous versions. The new phone also features a new, smaller connector, improved battery life and a new iSight camera.

Does Apple’s new handset bring enough to the table to take on rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X and Nokia Lumia 920? We went hands-on to find out…

iPhone 5: Build

In the hand, the 112g iPhone 5 unquestionably feels lighter and thinner. The 7.6mm depth is impressive, considering that this smartphone is much more powerful than the iPhone 4S. However, while the aluminium/glass construction is gorgeous to look at, the reduction in weight also makes it feel less industrial and less sturdy.

We’d take a lighter phone adorning our pocket any day, though. A nano-SIM on the side replaces the old-style mini-SIM, which forms part of the reduction in size, while the new Lightening connector replaces the 30-pin model, again, helping to shave off precious millimetres. A final note on size – it’s 9mm taller than the iPhone 4S but the same width.

The headphone socket is now on the bottom – we’ll have to see how this works in the wild. The two-tone back on both black and white models give it a premium feeland Apple tells us the back is crafted from the same anodised 6000 series aluminium material used in Apple MacBooks.

iPhone 5: Features

Standout features that we’ve had a play with lie within the make-up of iOS 6. Maps has been rebuilt from the ground up and now looks sharper, quicker and has some flashy features such as the cool 3D Flyover that allows you to zoom right into satellite imagery and rotate around landmarks as if you’re playing God.

It also includes turn-by-turn navigation that will have the likes of TomTom and Garmin reaching for the booze cabinet.

Siri has also had an upgrade, now boasting the ability to launch apps and post Facebook entries by voice. Both were 50/50 successful in our limited hands-on time, so watch this space for an extended review.

One of the biggest feature upgrades is with the camera. It’s now branded iSight and, while offering the same 8mp lens, now has improved HDR and PhotoStream sharing.

Video recording remains at 1080p, while the front-cam is markedly better – 720p FaceTime being the standout feature. The headline newbie, however, is the panoramic mode that will stitch together a landscape shot in real-time and create an image up to 28mp in size.

We tried this out in a packed press conference and while the results were unsurprisingly dull, due to the dim lighting, the technology itself was impressive – telling us to slow down if we panned too fast and then outputting the jumbo image in a few seconds.

Apple has thankfully upgraded its old earphones to the new EarPods, which are a huge step up in design and do sound better. But then most things did…

iPhone 5: Screen

The most significant hardware change in our book is the screen. The Retina display is now upped to four inches and brags a 1136×640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi.

Real-estate is noticeably bigger, with a extra line of apps added to each screen and movies now playing in 16:9 without letter-boxing. It also means that there’s simply more to look at when browsing websites, playing games and using apps.

Apple says apps built for the old screen will work just fine but it will allow developers to create new apps specifically for this screen. It didn’t seem brighter in our short hands-on, but we were smitten with how much more information is now available to look at.

iPhone 5: Performance

The new A6 chip has affected how fast the iPhone operates. We were pinging around apps more fluidly than our iPhone 4S and video also looked smoother.

Throughout our demo we were connected to wi-fi – which now supports all standards under the sun – but we’re really looking forward to seeing how it flies on EE’s new LTE 4G network when it (hopefully) launches this year. HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA are also supported and it will come in 16, 32 and 64GB models.

iPhone 5: Battery

Apple has quoted 8 hours 3G browsing time, 8 hours talk time, 10 hours video playback, which all sounds pretty reasonable but We’ll have to put that to the test when we get a proper review sample in at T3 Towers.

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While there will be cries that the iPhone 5 is ‘just a longer iPhone’, it remains a significant hardware change for the phone that hasn’t really had a good going over for a couple of years. Apple has worked wonders to reduce the overall size and weight while upping the power.

It comes with a raft of cool new features (mostly via iOS6), but fans of Samsung and HTC smartphones will cry that many of the features are already available on their devices. Regardless, it’s a significant update for an already super smartphone. We can’t wait to dig deeper into its prowess. Watch this space.

iPhone 5 availability: 8am, 21 September 2012 (pre-order from 14 September)

iPhone 5 price: £529  (network pricing TBC)

Full expert review coming soon!

Apple iPhone 5 Early Hands-on Expert Review


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