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




View All Comments

  • TeeJay2000 - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Great points. I think the benchmarks will surprise many. Reply
  • Aikouka - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    did you inadvertently post Anand's phone number in that photo where you're making a phone call?

    Might have been something that you meant to blur out!
  • skiboysteve - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    might not want to leave anands number on that screen shot

    people are weird and might call
  • eanazag - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Clearly they are out today for both camps. Today's announcement is an iPhone that is an upgrade to the 4S and compelling features to what is currently on the market from the Android team. There are some items that bring Apple's phone back into competiveness - ahem"4G"ahem. I own an iPhone 4 and the new design covers a lot of the bases I was requiring of my next phone. Yes 4G. 4G didn't truly matter till the last two months as Verizon hadn't covered where I live and work till then. The dual WiFi is nice and will be put to good use. First to beating Samsung and TI to A15's is pretty impressive. Honestly, I was cool with a shrunk iPad 2 SoC and upped MHz. With the iPhone 4 and the Cortex A8 most things behave well, but it certainly can be sluggish. My biggest complaint with the 4 is like of AirPlay Mirroring, which is hardware dependent.

    A lot of the features I am looking forward to are covered by software and can be had for me on the 19th without any dollars or waiting for vendors to approve the distro. I got my iPhone on iOS 4 and will see it on 6 soon. Turn-by-turn is a big deal; and yes it has been on Android phones for a while now.

    Truth is I upgrade when the I am eligible to upgrade and that is pretty much every two years. I am not eligible till October. A non-4G iPhone 5 would have made the decision extremely tough for anyone who wasn't a diehard. I've been working my 4G hotspot to death and will be happy to not carry it around in my pocket. Brian, do you have that in your cargo pants?

    This is a great phone for loyalists. Good for those who are on the fence between camps. I have some money and time investment in Apple, so basically my business was Apple's to lose.

    Windows phone 8 with an Xbox gaming ecosystem would be tempting to me, as long as screen mirroring and apps came online/materialized.
  • name99 - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    "though it's always hard to tell whether this is any faster than the previous generation"

    Try capturing HDR. It's REALLY obvious that capturing HDR is slow on a 4, and it's still so slow as to be obvious and irritating on a 4S. So the question is, on a 5 is it fast enough that it's no longer painful?
  • Impulses - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    I actually like the 5's tall but narrow form factor... Even though I've been using larger phones for the last two years; three EVOs, two 4.3", one qHD, latest being 4.65" and 720p obviously. My newest EVO was a huge improvement in pocket feel (thinner) but it's wide enough that it made me aware I'd never want a larger phone no matter how sexy and high tech. I'd even go back to 4.3" if I could still get something that's 720p.

    I think it's kinda comical they're letter boxing old apps tho. It's no worse than on screen menu button bars and what have you (HTC/ICS, thankfully they found a more elegant solution), but I'm not sure they would have ever gone down that route during the Jobs era.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    I should add I have average sized hands but really long/thin fingers... 4.65" phones have to be unusable with one hand by a large cross section of the population, mostly because of how wide they are rather than how tall... You don't need to reach the top edge of the screen very often, but it's easier on a narrower phone since you tend to stretch out your thumb diagonally.

    The end result is the IPhone will still be favored by a lot of people due to size alone, regardless of funky app letter boxing, and other OEM are shooting themselves in the foot by not having more high end but smaller (4" or even 4.3") devices. The One S (on one US carrier, with a meh display) and the new mid size RAZR are the only that come to mind on the Android camp.
  • ascian5 - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    All other comments aside, this screen size/resolution is retarded. I'm an American male, the current iPhone screen sizes literally cramp my thumb(s). A taller screen with no width increase does nothing for me. Until I use it, I anticipate it being the OPPOSITE of this alleged 'more usable' model.
    Ergonomics aside, I want more usable screen real estate. Browsing the web, etc is just annoying at the curret dimensions. I do not see a taller screen fixing this issue at all. which is why come November I'll be lookin at the Nokia 920 or holding my nose at an Andriod handset despite my preference for anything else. My iPhone 4 is just showing its age too vividly these days and I can't see myself going 12 months or longer on this absurd screen despite the other features and app ecosystem that Apple brings to be table.

    As an aside, kudos on Lightenin being reversible. I'd prefer micro-USB but its about time someone made a connector with some common sense. When Apple dropped he FireWire compatibility from he 30 pin connector people cried, but we're over it in months. Changing will suck for some hardware transitions, but big picture, this is the right move.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Right move would've been micro USB/MHL... But that doesn't make economic sense for Apple. At least people get a reversible connector out of the deal, should be pretty sturdy too, to magnets instead of clips would've made it perfect (it'd probably raise accessory cost too much).

    I'm curious about the new buds being included, first time I've ever seen bass drivers in an ear bud stem.
  • vision33r - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    I actually hate the micro USB, so many crappy micro USB cables that don't clip or stay connected well and premium ones are too expensive. The new lightning cable does not require flipping around. Reply

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