The last significant redesign of the iPhone platform came in 2010 with the iPhone 4. It was an update that literally touched all aspects of the device, from SoC to display to baseband and of course, chassis. Last month’s launch of the iPhone 5 is no different in magnitude. The sixth generation iPhone makes some of the biggest changes to the platform since its introduction in 2007.

Visually the device begins by evolving the design language of the iPhone 4/4S chassis. From the launch of the iPhone 4 it was quite obvious that Apple had picked a design it was quite proud of. Thus it’s not too surprising that, from a distance, the iPhone 5 resembles the previous two iPhone models. We’ll get into material differences shortly, but what make the iPhone 5 design such a radical departure is its larger display.

All previous iPhones have maintained the same 3.5-inch, 3:2 aspect ratio display. With the rest of the world quickly moving to much larger displays, and with 16:9 the clear aspect ratio of choice, when faced with the decision of modernizing the iPhone platform the choice was obvious.

The iPhone 5 embraces a taller, 4-inch, 16:9 1136 x 640 display opting to lengthen the device instead of increasing its area in both dimensions. The result is a device that is distinctly an iPhone, albeit a modern one. The taller display doesn’t do much to make desktop web pages any easier to read as a result of the width staying the same. Those longing for an HTC One X or Galaxy S 3 sized device running iOS are out of luck. Reading emails and typing are both improved though as there’s now more room for lists and the keyboard no longer occupies as much of the display. The taller device can be more awkward to use if you have smaller hands, but the added screen real estate is honestly worth it. Once you get used to the iPhone 5’s display, going back to the older models is tough.

The taller chassis went on a diet as well. The iPhone 5 is now considerably thinner and lighter than its predecessor, which is yet another factor that contributes to it feeling more modern.

Internally the device changes are just as significant, if not more, than those on the outside. The iPhone 5 includes LTE support, which in areas where LTE networks are deployed can be enough reason alone to warrant an upgrade.

The iPhone 5 also includes a brand new SoC from Apple: the A6. For the first time since the introduction of the iPad, Apple has introduced a major branded SoC on an iPhone first. The iPhone 4 used the A4 after it debuted on the iPad, and the 4S picked up the A5 months after the iPad 2 launched with it. The A6 however arrives first on the iPhone 5, and with it comes two of Apple’s first, custom designed CPU cores. We’ve always known Apple as a vertically integrated device and software vendor, but getting into CPU design takes that to a new level.

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4S Samsung Galaxy S 3 (USA) HTC One S Apple iPhone 5
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 136.6 mm (5.38" ) 130.9 mm (5.15" ) 123.8 mm (4.87")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 70.6 mm (2.78") 65 mm (2.56") 58.6 mm (2.31")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 8.6 mm (0.34") 7.8 mm (0.31") 7.6 mm (0.30")
Weight 140 g (4.9 oz) 133g (4.7 oz) 119.5g (4.21 oz) 112 g (3.95 oz)
CPU Apple A5 @ ~800MHz Dual Core Cortex A9 1.5 GHz MSM8960 Dual Core Krait 1.5 GHz MSM8260A Dual Core Krait 1.3 GHz Apple A6 (Dual Core Apple Swift)
GPU PowerVR SGX 543MP2 Adreno 225 Adreno 225 PowerVR SGX 543MP3
NAND 16GB, 32GB or 64GB integrated 16/32 GB NAND with up to 64 GB microSDXC 16 GB NAND 16, 32, or 64 GB integrated
Camera 8 MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8 MP with LED Flash + 1.9 MP front facing 8 MP with LED Flash + VGA front facing 8 MP with LED Flash + 1.2MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 960 x 640 LED backlit LCD 4.8" 1280x720 HD SAMOLED 4.3" 960x540 Super AMOLED 4" 1136 x 640 LED backlit LCD
Battery Internal 5.3 Whr Removable 7.98 Whr Removable 6.1 Whr Internal 5.45 Whr

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the new iPhone. Whether it is understanding the architecture of the A6 SoC or investigating the improved low light performance of the iPhone 5’s rear facing camera, we’ve got it here in what is easily our most in-depth iPhone review to date. Let’s get started.



View All Comments

  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    Err... iPhone 5 starts at $649. Galaxy S III is $599. Reply
  • noveltyaccountx86 - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    It is good to know that darwinosx and dagamer34 are the same person! Tony Swash at DT too?! Reply
  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    Woah, I am not him.... Reply
  • dyc4ha - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    S3 is $550 from AT&T actually (no commitment price). My contract just ended, I am unsure if I want to sign up again. Reply
  • dyc4ha - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    No offense, but I believe it is you that need to check prices. Similarly spec'd products from Apple are usually at a premium. Reply
  • Arbee - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    In the PC space, nobody other than Apple makes a laptop with a trackpad that doesn't suck and a high quality IPS display, so "similarly spec'd" can be very, very misleading. Reply
  • dyc4ha - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - link

    True, but let me be a bit more specific then: I just bought the 2012 MBA and I was comparing it to UX31A. It is more than safe to say it is similarly spec'd. Reply
  • doobydoo - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    The UX31A is just a perfect example of Arbee's point. It has inferior performance, battery life, and an inferior trackpad. Reply
  • dyc4ha - Saturday, October 20, 2012 - link

    You are very clearly biased. The 1080p IPS on the UX31A just cant be matched. I get the i7 on the ASUS for $1400 and only the i5 in the MBA, how can that be 'inferior'? Battery life depends heavily on the usage, not sure about which is 'inferior', though I would point the the MBA is 45whr and the ASUS is 50whr. I will give you the trackpad though, I do like my MBA trackpad ALOT which coupled with my student discount ultimately swayed my decision. Reply
  • rarson - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - link

    That's complete garbage, and even if it weren't, they're still overpriced. Reply

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