We just spent a good amount of time with the iPhone 5. The phone feels very thin and light (obviously), and the improvement in performance is very noticeable compared to the 4S. Apple didn't have any games (and obviously no benchmarks) preloaded on the iPhone 5 demo units so we'll have to wait until launch to really quantify performance.

The display does look noticeably better than the 4S and the extension of the screen height seems natural. We'll be posting more detailed impressions later on, but for now enjoy the photos/video below:

Update: So we've spent even longer with the iPhone 5 and have some pretty solid impressions of the device. First, the display is indeed noticeably more vibrant than the 4S, which isn't super surprising considering Apple's move from on-cell to in-cell touch and full sRGB coverage. We'll be able to tell in due time just how close it comes to 100% sRGB, but what we saw was very impressive. Touch response remains completely fluid and 1:1, if you're concerned about going to in-cell introducing digitizer recognition issues, rest assured there didn't seem to be any here.

The iPhone 5 also feels substantially different in the hand. It always shocks me how much a simple materials change makes something feel, and it's always impossible to convey these differences, but the lighter and thinner form factor is very perceptible. The 4 and 4S always felt solid, the 5 moves to a much more ethereal form, and the lightness almost makes it feel like a hollow metal box. It's very hard to convey. Likewise the cutouts at top and bottom appear to be glass, but there's no noticeable gap between them and the unibody metal main body; this is very polished.

One of the questions I had upon seeing the change to 16:9 aspect ratio was what the landscape keyboard UI would look like with this larger real estate. The answer is that it simply extends all the way across and takes full advantage of it. 

Apple didn't call out the nanoSIM explicitly, but side by side with the 4S it is immediately obvious this is indeed true, as the removable slot indeed is smaller. You can see that above.

The 4 and 4S construction consisted of two glass plates which snapped onto the metal antenna band that circled the phone. With the 5 this changes fundamentally - the back no longer has a piece which attaches, and likewise there's no corresponding gap on the top for the display. The 5 instead has a polished edge chamfer which runs around the external band. In addition the 5 also continues to use the dual cellular antenna architecture first introduced with the iPhone 4 CDMA for Verizon, then made official on the 4S. These are the bands whose position remains roughly the same on the 5. 

Performance is noticeably improved on the 5 as expected given the presence of two Cortex A15 CPUs inside the new Apple A6 SoC. Of course, Apple allowed no benchmarking at the event so we couldn't run any objective tests, but we pulled up Maps and 3D buildings which didn't appear to drop any frames. Compared side by side with the 4S showing 3D buildings in downtown San Francisco it was even more dramatic. Safari loaded pages quickly over the event WiFi and on LTE, but we couldn't explicitly time anything. 

Inside Settings Apple has included an LTE toggle just like on the iPad 3 with 4G LTE. I didn't get a chance to see if FieldTest.app was present, unfortunately. 

Camera on the 5 launched and performed very well. I was able to rapidly snap photos on the device, though it's always hard to tell whether this is any faster than the previous generation without using a timer or capturing video. As a reminder, the iPhone 5 camera is still 8MP with likely the same CMOS sensor as the 4S, but slightly different optics. This time around the iPhone 5 rear camera is still F/2.4 but has a slightly wider field of view. Focal length appears to be slightly changed. Panorama works very well on the 5, it appears to be continually integrating while moving rather than taking a small number of individual captures. Apple has also changed the camera UI just for the iPhone 5 it appears, with a circular capture button and edge to edge bleeds for the preview. This looks a lot like the iPad camera interface. I played with the new 720p front facing camera as well, and quality looked good.  


Note, this number is just an ASOS station I use for testing

Before heading off to play with the new iPods, I also placed a call to Anand and got some worried plus puzzled looks from onlookers. I think it's safe to say that we're living in the future when using a phone like a phone draws ire. In that brief time though I was able to roughly gauge voice call quality, which seemed very good. Interestingly enough I could tell that the earpiece noise suppression was working, as I felt the same kind of light pressure I do with active noise cancelation headsets. 

I switched one of the demo units from WiFi (which was no doubt on 5 GHz, as it was working properly in an environment with crowded 2.4 GHz spectrum) to LTE and though I wasn't allowed to run a speed test, pages loaded quickly and there appeared to be no issues. There are three different models with different air interface and band support, as unfortunately even with MDM9615 there's no way for Apple to deliver truly world-mode LTE compatibility with all of the bands on one device. The PCB shots I saw this morning also seemed to suggest RTR8600 instead of WTR1605 like I originally suspected for transceiver, though the baseband is indeed MDM9615. Of course, you still need the corresponding power amplifiers even with a transceiver that supports more ports. 

Overall after our short time with the iPhone 5 I'm very positive about the end result. The combination of new silicon and LTE alongside display and camera improvements craft a very positive outlook for Apple's iPhone line. 

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 Apple iPhone 4S Apple iPhone 5 Samsung Galaxy S 3
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 115.2 mm (4.5") 123.8 mm (4.87") 136.6 mm (5.38")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 58.6 mm (2.31") 58.6 mm (2.31") 70.6 mm (2.78")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 7.6 mm (0.30") 8.6 mm (0.34")
Weight 137 g (4.8 oz) 140 g (4.9 oz) 112 g (3.95 oz) 133 g (4.7 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz Cortex A8 Apple A5 @ ~800MHz Dual Core Cortex A9 Apple A6 (Dual Core Cortex A15?) 1.5 GHz MSM8960 Dual Core Krait
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 PowerVR SGX 543MP2 ? Adreno 225
RAM 512MB LPDDR1-400 512MB LPDDR2-800 ? 2GB LPDDR2
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 16GB, 32GB or 64GB integrated 16GB, 32GB or 64GB integrated 16GB or 32GB NAND with up to 64GB microSDXC
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8MP with LED Flash + 720p Front Facing Camera 8 MP with LED flash + 1.9 MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4" 1136 x 640 LED backlit LCD 4.8" 1280 x 720 HD Super AMOLED
Battery Integrated 5.254Whr Integrated 5.291Whr Integrated ?? Whr Removable 7.98 Whr

 

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  • ascian5 - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    I absolutely understand the economic reasons for not going with micro-USB. I'd do the exact same thing in their shoes. But I'm not, I'm a consumer :) I'd just as soon see this become a standard if it were (is) USB3. The only thing that bugs me is the exposed pins. A minor point admittedly, but still valid.

    As for the complaint about the cost of cables or not clipping.... all I can say is, does not compute.

    I look forward to any HTC surprises next week (not expecting any, much like today) but per my original post, this taller screen is still retarded and may or may not bite them in the long run. With vector graphics I don't think a change down the road is out of the question, but I just don't understand the display choice. It's like Apple is being different is being different for the sake of being so. In this case, it has more than likely cost them a sale.

    With the lack of innovation of anything that has to do with the phone itself,. I can't see myself staying in the iOS camp for this year.
    Reply
  • KPOM - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    I think the Galaxy SIII is just plain too big. I like the width of the iPhone. Perhaps they could go a tad wider, but only a tad (perhaps to make the keyboard easier to use in portrait). They don't need to put some 4.8" monster screen. That's too big IMO. Reply
  • emarston - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    I thought the same cause I don't have large hands. I got the S3 and it's actually better for about everything. I can operate it with 1 hand without a problem. Reply
  • vulcz - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    I noticed that the glass screen isn't as exposed as with the 4/4S. Do you think it's significant enough of a difference that will help reduce the amount of cracked iPhones? Reply
  • fhaddad78 - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    I see so many flames against Apple's products and the company itself. Maybe it's just the "cool" thing to do on the forums. But even though Apple isn't on the bleeding edge when it comes to the latest technologies, they are on the bleeding edge in how they use and offer those features. For example, they are finally adding 4G to their phone, and some see that as horrible when other companies have been doing it for a couple years. But in all honesty, I had an HTC Thunderbolt when 4G just came out and the battery didn't last more than 1 hour. That's pathetic. When Apple finally got around to getting 4G in their phone, they did it with a phone that still can yield 8 hours of use. I don't own any Apple products, I'm not some Apple zealot, but I do give credit where credit is due. Apple makes the best looking, and most tightly integrated phone out there. Microsoft's new Windows Phone is second to Apple in that regard. Android on the other hand, which I use, is just not as organized and fluid as either of the other companies products. All the Android phones look and feel like crap in your hands compared to Apple's iPhone. They are mostly cheap plastic and snap together components. Some credit and less hate needs to be given to Apple. I challenge anyone to put a phone next to the iPhone and say the iPhone looks, feels, and performs worse. You don't have to have the most memory, highest clock speed, most cores, etc to have the best phone. It's not always about raw numbers. I would argue Apple can squeeze more performance out of a dual core CPU running at 1 GHz than an Android phone running a quad core CPU at 2 GHz. That's overly exaggerated, but the point is made. Reply
  • Conficio - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Hi Brian & Anand,
    does it annoy you too, that some phones can be charged (for example in a car) and still drain their battery when running demanding apps, such as navigation? It does bug me and I realized there is no information regarding this very practical use case.

    Would it be possible for you to measure how much current a phone draws when charging an empty battery and how much it draws when running demanding software at the same time (may be your battery drain test). Then report the two different currents and how much the battery charge does increase over 1h, 2h.

    I'd also like to see reviews of quality chargers, essentially the power supplies for phones. It would be nice to see similar quality measures then for PC power supplies. This is especially true for car chargers, as that is the scenario where this should occur most often. But at home it could be a similar scenario if I use my phone to watch a movie while I hope it is charged afterwards.

    Thanks in advance for the consideration.
    Reply
  • noblemo - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    According to the announcement and images on the Apple web site, the black version has a black anodized back cover capped with black on the ends, while the white model features a raw aluminum cover with white on the ends. The images posted here show a raw aluminum cover with black ends. Is this just a pre-release color scheme? Reply
  • 7amdi - Saturday, September 15, 2012 - link

    so guys can we make a comaprison between the s3 and the iphone 5 now ???
    cuz iam so puzzled about the s3 and the iphone 5
    Reply
  • RichardKirschb - Sunday, September 16, 2012 - link

    Very in depth article, kudos to you all Reply
  • hansu - Friday, September 21, 2012 - link

    its a dual core 1.02 ghz processor in iphone 5,

    sucks but the phone is fast ,

    ill buy a lumia 920 thats a awsome phone
    Reply

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