iPhone 5 review!

I took the plunge and bought an iPhone 5 (Black, 16GB) in December. The other contender I had in mind was the Nokia Lumia 920. Its weight was a big deterrent though. And as much as I wanted to move to the latest from Microsoft's new phone operating system, it simply is not available here in India. Here is a short review of my experience with the iPhone 5 so far.

Cost & Micro-SIM

At $700 (~Rs 38,000), and the rupee at an all time low to the dollar, this is an expensive phone to buy outright. Plus, Apple is selling it at an even higher price point through its retailers here in India, for Rs. 45,500. I got mine shipped through a friend, and it took some 3 days to reach from the US. Best shipping time ever, as it was carried in a pocket.

The other thing of note is the nano sim card. With airtel launching the iphone, my company facility folks were able to get me one in three days. Thank god for their help, as Airtel has no relationship centres nearby. The two nearest to my house do not exist, and hunting for them was a futile and time wasting exercise.

Design & Hardware

Apple has outdone itself when it comes to the hardware. The new iPhone 5 is sleek and looks like a million bucks. It defines the new sexy. The edges are finely crafted and the aluminium back looks amazing. The other thing that surprises you as soon as you hold it is the weight. For this big a device, you assume it to be heavy, but it feels almost weightless.

Worth it for the hardware alone. While the main structure of iOS has not changed much, it feels snappier than my iPod Touch and iPad 3. The screen is gorgeous, and does not feel like it is on a diet and shrunk from the super duper sized phone displays we see from Samsung etc. I did feel some awkwardness while reaching the top corners single handedly. This was maybe due to my heavy use of the iPod touch, which is a perfect fit at 3.7 inches. The display is one of the brightest and sharpest available today. It is very good outdoors and down right gorgeous inside.

Camera

The camera is vastly improved. Here is a sample of my first few clicks. The pictures are sharp and well lit. Auto focus is fast too and the camera is a good replacement for a point and shoot. This helps you capture the interesting and the beautiful from everyday life.

    

Wifi, GPS, Battery

I had an issue with the Wifi, but a little tinkering fixed it. I had to move to the G band on my router. Searching the Apple support forums was depressing as most people suggested for a replacement, which in my case would have meant anywhere between a month to six. Thankfully, the issue got sorted with a restart, but the reception is weaker than my iPod Touch. That can be said about the cellular network reception as well. While my Samsung Windows Phone never reported any network loss in my office (or maybe chose not to), I frequently see a network lost message.

Battery life is good for a phone this size. Charging is surprisingly fast, something that is yet to be seen in other devices. Since I do not own any accessories for the 30-pin connector, the new lightning port did not post any connectivity issues for me. Duel sided nature of the lightning connector is a huge blessing.

Radios are as expected. GPS and WiFi lock fast and do not drain the battery life. I chose to leave them on all times as the convenience outweighs the hassle of switching them off and on again. This was unthinkable with the WP7.

iOS6, Apps, iTunes, Maps, Siri & Facetime

The apps remain a strong point of the Apple ecosystem. I have a few loaded already, but maybe that's for another post some day.

Siri is supercool but has trouble with my accent for any real world use. The poor data connections do not help either.  I was successful in setting up some reminders, finding match schedules for my favorite football team, and send some texts, but nothing more. Siri still has difficulty pronouncing my name and the other integrations do not work in India, yet.

With iTunes music launch, things are looking good for this part of the world.

  

No maps in Apple maps. Thankfully, Google maps are now available on iOS.

Minor Cribs & Suggestions

The ringtones shipped could be improved. Apple maps is useless in India. But thats how I found out Waze. With Google maps now available, this is not an issue anymore.

Keyboard is good enough, as it was in the last century. It needs a new lease of life. Response is fast and accurate, but somehow I feel other options like swype keyboard maybe worth looking into.

I request Apple to provide a mechanism to skip songs while enjoying a morning/evening walk. Apple needs to provide some more user functions for the locked mode, apart from easy access to the Camera. This could be based on the current app running in the foreground. Music interaction and app notifications can be improved too. Plus, inter-app interactions do not exist. Apple should fix this. And perhaps freshen up the homescreen a bit?

By the way, I did a Facetime call on 3G. How cool is that?

In the end, I was a little sad at letting the Windows Phone 7 go. But the iPhone 5 is easily the best phone sized phone out there. Highly recommended.

That's it! Tune in later for a few recommendations on the apps I am using on the iPhone. Happy Valentines day!