iPhone 5: Taller, prettier, thinner, and boring

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: September 21, 2012

I originally titled this article “My top 7 favorite things about the iPhone 5”, but after I started jotting down my thoughts about the new (and improved…?) device, I soon realized I couldn’t come up with seven things that I liked, simply because when it all comes down to it, the iPhone 5 is the taller, thinner, prettier sister of the phone I already have. That’s about all it has to offer.

As I sat there watching two or three live blogs of the Apple conference, it seemed like all I was doing was waiting. The blogs kept sending me feeds, and I kept reading the material, but nothing was coming as a surprise to me. The phone was taller. The connector was different. The phone is thinner. It weighs less. It was everything we were expecting, but there were no Easter eggs about the iPhone 5. I was more surprised at the new design of the iPod Nano. Heck, I even got a chuckle out of the lanyard feature for the iPod touch.

All is not lost, however. I do enjoy a few features about the new Apple phone. I will admit that the iPhone 5 is a bit of eye candy for me. I actually enjoy the two-tone look to it, and the fact that it’s made of both glass and aluminum. The aluminum that covers up most of the back (giving it the two-tone design) was a good idea as I never understood why they designed the 4 and 4S with a pure glass back. Sure, it’s shiny, but completely unnecessary in my opinion. I would have been happier if the entire back of the device was aluminum, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.  

During part of the presentation, Apple mentioned that they made many components on the inside of the phone smaller to make room for a bigger battery. Hopefully this comes as a gift from the battery gods, as I think battery life is a huge reason why some people aren’t ready to move on to smart phones. Honestly, I can’t blame them. My phone gets used for a lot of things, and I’m lucky if it makes it until the end of the day. My iPhone 4S has had the best battery life so far of any smart phone I’ve ever owned, but I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t enjoy a little more time before rushing to a charger before it dies. I remember having a Katana II, and forgetting to charge it for two days straight and still be okay for part of the third day before it went caput on me. Those were much simpler times, but I digress.

Of course, the screen size seems minuscule to most as it’s not a 4.7”, or 4.3”, but a measly 4” screen. A small step from the current 3.5” display, 4” hardly seems worth mentioning when you have behemoth phones out there like the Samsung Galaxy Note line, or practically any other high end Android these days. I actually like the slight increase. There’s been a few autocorrect blunders I’ve had that I’m sure could have been avoided if my screen had been a little bigger (or if my fingers had been a little smaller - but only one of those problems can be addressed). I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that it only stretches the height of the device and not the width, but I suppose when you think about it your hand won’t have to do much adjusting if you already own an iPhone.  I am, however, curious to see if adding the extra height makes any real difference when viewing videos.

A bonus that isn’t necessarily directly related to the iPhone 5, but will be debuted on the day of release for the device, are the new and improved Apple EarPods. These EarPods are set to replace the current version of the Apple Earbuds, which have been ruining ears since 2001. I only ever used my earbuds in dire situations, and even then I was not pleased. They always fell out of my ear. EarPods seem promising enough, with multiple...speaker holes? There’s a few places on the EarPod where sound is supposed come out, so I’m not entirely sure how that’s supposed to work, but the concept seems interesting enough. Now we just have to wait and see how well they fit.

My final (positive) thought on the iPhone 5 will be the new A6 processor. Its processor may not be “quad-core”, but it seems to have a great thing going for it. The iPhone 5 with it’s A6 processor puts it at a Geekbench score of 1601. For those of you who don’t know what a Geekbench score is, it’s a cross-platform processor benchmark that’s available for most gadgets today. It takes the guesswork out of figuring out how well something runs. However, for those who see that “1601” as just a number, look at that number and then think about how the 4S runs. Fast and smooth,  right? The iPhone 4S has a Geekbench mark of 629. That means the iPhone 5 runs more than twice as fast as the 4S. Couple that with the fact that the iPhone 5 will finally have the 4G LTE capabilities the fans have been waiting for, it seems like the iPhone 5 has won the hearts of many. At this rate we’re going to have time-travelling smartphones in the next three years or so. As fast as that benchmark looks, though, the Samsung Galaxy S III actually carries a better Geekbench score than that. The Samsung Galaxy S III (running on Jellybean) is sitting pretty on a score of 1781, so that’s always something to think about.

Am I as excited about the iPhone 5 as I thought I would be? Disappointingly, no. Although I am excited to try it out and see if there really is a noticeable difference between it and my 4S, other phones being announced recently have caught better hold of my attention. But who knows? When I first begrudgingly decided to try out the iPhone 4S, I thought I was going to hate it. Turns out it’s the best phone I’ve ever had, so maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

How do you feel about the iPhone 5? Was it everything you expected? More or less than you expected? Let me know in the comments below!