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iPhone 5..I like it!
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iPhone 5..I like it!

I may be a little late to the parade but I wanted to give the iPhone 5 a good test before writing about it. Full disclosure: This is the first iPhone I have actually used as a day to day phone..I did have a 4S to test apps but used another smartphone as my day to day phone. Well, I have been using the iPhone 5 every day for the past few weeks and I can say I like it…sure there issues..there are issues with every phone..but the iPhone 5 is a very good one.

My iPhone 5 arrived in a stylish black box..a departure from the traditional Apple white..is there a message here? Open the box and on first look you might think it was a 4s the style hasn’t changed so the extra length isn’t that obvious until you pick up the phone. In the hand it becomes clear this is a different phone..it is noticeably lighter and thinner than its predecessor and because of the extra length it feels a bit narrower..but it is not. In the hand the phone feels well built with an obvious attention to detail..this is not a cheaply constructed phone. One interesting note..the cover of the SIM card tray is noticeably lighter than the side of the phone..was this intentional to make it stand out?

Speaking of the SIM card..in order to save space Apple went for a nano SIM card in a marketplace where most phones now use a micro SIM..no big deal for someone who only has one phone..in my case however, I switch between phones often for testing purposes. Fortunately adapters are readily available that enable you to use a nano SIM in phones requiring micro or full size SIM cards. I got mine from Simadaptershops.

Apple has kept the antenna band around the sides but the company has developed  a more advanced form of antenna here, meaning the days of lost signal are gone, and generally increasing the power of your call connection and GPS lock on too. There are some design changes here,  the headphone jack has moved to the bottom of the phone, and the iconic 30-pin connector has been retired in favour of the new Lightning port, a real pain for all those that have invested in chargers, docks and other accessories that use the old connector. On the bright side a smaller connector is not only easier to use (you can plug the smaller cable in either way round, and the connection feels more solid), it allows for a thinner and more compact phone.

 Time to turn the phone on..No question, the Retina screen is impressive..bright and sharp..which is good, because I am used to a wider screen so I was worried about being to read the screen without my glasses. I didn’t need to worry, the sharpness and brightness of the screen rook care of that..text is sharp and the contrast good so reading is comfortable. I was also used to seeing lots of information on my home screen so the iPhone’s screen full of icons was less satisfying. Fortunately, when Apple copied Android’s notification system it added some really nice touches..so with a quick flick I can see the current weather, upcoming appointments, a stock ticker as well as any other notifications I may choose..email, Twitter and Facebook to name a few.
Performance is great..iOS has always provided the smoothest screen scrolling and it is even smoother and snappier on the iPhone 5. Apps pop open quickly and operate smoothly..game play is also fast and smooth and the longer screen is noticeable here as it is with playing videos. movies look great on the wide screen and sound better too..thanks the new earbuds that actually fit in my ear.
Phone quality in both directions is excellent..probably due to the new antenna design which can also be credited for snappier GPS aquisition and WiFi performance. This is a very fast phone..take a look at these data performance figures..I’m on the edge of Telus’ 4G LTE network and still the performance matches or beats WiFi. Pretty impressive!
The front facing FaceTime camera has been upgraded to a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD unit capable of capturing 720p video. Resolution is obviously greatly increased, but so too is overall image quality, with far more accurate color reproduction. The new rear facing camera,  an 8-megapixel, backside-illuminated sensor with a five-element, f/2.4 lens is absolutely stunning. Right now it is probably the best smartphone camera out there — and a really good camera by point-and-shoot standards. The pictures from the iSight camera  look crisp, clear, and ultra-defined.  Wider shots looked great, and macro performance was excellent. It is fast too, taking pictures as quickly as you can press the button.

New with iOS 6 is Panorama mode, where you can tap one button and just sweep the phone around to create a massive image. The picture is captured in one seamless motion and the final product is almost always free of the sort of glitches and visual aberrations typically found in these self-stitching panoramas. There is the occasional glitch but the results are almost always very impressive.

Video capture on the rear facing camera is great — 1080p30 maximum and offering bright contrast and colors plus the same digital image stabilization that we saw in the 4S. The result is smooth steady shots even if you aren’t so steady. You can see how well that works in this handheld video.

http://youtu.be/dSS2C55jm7Q

Overall, this is a great smartphone..sure, as I mentioned in my review of iOS 6 there are issues with maps but there are plenty of workarounds, many of them free so I don’t consider it an issue. What more could you ask for, the iPhone 5 is a solid well build smartphone that is a good phone…a very important feature :)…a true replacement for a point and shoot camera and access to hundreds of thousands of apps…a good choice for anyone and a no-brainer if you already use other apple products.

The iPhone 5 is available from all the major carriers starting at $179 (with a three year plan) up to $699 with no contract.

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Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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