Mobile

iPhone 5 reviews show no surprises: It’s lighter, faster, and all around better

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Despite some complaints that the iPhone 5 was a “boring” update, early reviews for the phone are overwhelmingly positive, praising its thin and light design, fast processor and LTE 4G speeds, and larger 4-inch display.

The glowing reviews aren’t too surprising — heck, reviewers (including this one) generally loved last years iPhone 4S, which didn’t have any exterior improvements over its predecessor. If anything is boring about a new iPhone, it’s the usual back and forth between gadgethounds expecting something better and Apple fans shouting “I told you so!” when positive reviews hit.

One of the biggest iPhone 5 issues reviewers pointed out is actually an iOS 6 problem: Apple’s new Maps application, which replaces the mainstay Google Maps app. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg writes:

The app is in other ways a step backward from the familiar Google app. For instance, while Apple’s maps feature a 3-D “Flyover” view of some central cities, they lack Google’s very useful ground-level photographic street views. And they also lack public-transit routing. Apple will instead link you to third-party transit apps.

These issues will affect existing iPhone users who upgrade to iOS 6, and I suspect the backlash will be tremendous. My biggest annoyance with Apple’s Map app so far is fairly simple: for whatever reason, it doesn’t have any subway station locations for New York City, something that’s been in Google Maps since the iPhone launched.

But while Apple’s new Maps app has its issues, it does finally bring native turn-by-turn navigation to the iPhone, and its 3D map view is impressive.

The New York Time’s David Pogue takes issue with the iPhone 5’s new Lightning dock connector, even though he acknowledges some of its good points (namely, its small size and reversible design):

It doesn’t fit any existing accessories, docks or chargers. Apple sells an adapter plug for $30 (or $40 with an eight-inch cable “tail”). If you have a few accessories, you could easily pay $150 in adapters for a $200 phone. That’s not just a slap in the face to loyal customers — it’s a jab in the eye.

But despite these problems, both Pogue and Mossberg praised practically everything else about the iPhone 5.

The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple points out that not having a screen as large as Android behemoths may actually be a good thing for the iPhone 5:

The most important point of Apple’s larger iPhone screen is that it’s not too large. I know that sounds strange, but bigger is not always better. If the screen is so big that you can’t comfortably operate the iPhone 5 with one hand, then Apple would have failed.

But they didn’t. I am able to easily navigate through the iPhone 5 menus and options using one hand. My thumb reaches the top of the screen to tap on options and hit the back button without shuffling the phone in my hand.

I’ll be getting my hands on the iPhone 5 on Friday, so check back here for our review soon!

Photo: Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat