Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The iPhone 5: Why I'm Not Underwhelmed

Well, my birthday came and went without much fanfare as usual. For those into details, it was a week and a half ago on Sep. 7th, and I turned 36. And while I didn't do anything on that day except complete one more revolution around the Sun, I did bake brownies in celebration. So that's something!

Anyway, seeing as how it is my birthday, and also seeing how I've had my current iPhone 4 for over two years now, I thought it was nice of Apple to schedule a major unveiling of their latest iteration of this popular product line around the same time. As a mild technophile I always suspected I would be getting the next iPhone anyway. Not just because I was due for an upgrade, but because I really do enjoy the form factor and GUI of Apple phones. So it was a no-brainer that the iPhone 5 would be this year's birthday present to myself. All I needed to see was a reasonable improvement over my current phone. That's it.

And that's not only what I got, but a bit more.

The iPhone 5 (left) vs. the iPhone 4 (right). Fight, fight, fight!

Now, before I go on, I want to briefly clue you in to the current brouhaha taking over the tech blogs. As evidenced by this WSJ online article, many so-called techies are feeling a little butt-hurt that the new iPhone 5 is not BIGGAR and BETTAR than anything else out there on the market. The way some people cry about it, you'd think they were expecting the second coming of Steve Jobs himself on September 12th. (Sorry, is it still too soon for Steve Jobs jokes? Even if I'm equating him to everyone's favorite Lord and Savior?)

But, see, I'm not those people. I could care less that Samsung's Galaxy S III is technically the better phone out there, or that the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920 might just be better still. All I wanted was for the iPhone 5 to outdo my 2-year old current iPhone. Which it certainly does, and here's how:

Screen size.

The iPhone 5 will boast a new 4-inch screen, compared to the 3.5 one on previous models. The resolution will be bumped up to 1136 x 640, compared to 960 x 640. What this translates to is a screen that's longer than its predecessors, yet still the same width. While this will finally give us a near-widescreen viewing experience on the iPhone, it's not a true 16 x 9 ratio. But it's damn near close enough! Close enough to work for me, at least. And at 326 ppi and 44% greater color saturation over last year's model, pics and video are going to look very crisp and bright indeed. Always a good thing!


My iPhone 4 has Apple's A4 processor inside it, which was slower than the competition at the time but did the job fairly well. But the iPhone 5 will be sporting the new A6 chip, which is reported to be twice as fast as last year's A5 chip, and therefore that much more speedy than my two-year old processor. The onboard memory has also gotten a nice bump up to 1GB from the iPhone 4's 512MB. While Samsung's Galaxy S III sports a robust 2GB of operating memory, I don't see why I'll need anything more than 1GB for today's processing needs. By the time apps and functions are gobbling up 2GB of memory on mobile phones sometime in the near future, I'll be eligible to upgrade to a newer unit anyway.


I always felt this was the weakest link in my current phone. The iPhone 4 has a main 5 mega-pixel rear camera, and a much, much weaker front facing secondary camera for face chats and profile pic taking. The iPhone 5 improves on this remarkably by giving us an 8MP rear camera with 1080p video, and a 1.3MP front cam capable of 720p video. Tres kewl! The new rear cam also has much better low-light sensitivity and improve image noise reduction. What more can I ask for?

As someone who takes a ton of pics in his everyday wanderings--and almost always with his phone--this is one area that, coupled with the improved screen mentioned earlier, will immediately make itself noticeable. I think I'm more giddy about this than almost any other aspect of the iPhone 5. I say almost, because . . .


Apple has been relying on the 3G data network since I got my first iPhone back in 2008. But finally we loyal customers will be enjoying the benefits of the blistering fast 4G LTE network, which has been around since late 2010 and already utilized by a host of other Android-centered phones on the market. But LTE is, by some regards, even faster than broadband cable service. Which means I won't have to search for a WiFi hotspot all the time when I'm out in public and need quicker data access. As it stands, I will still be connected to my broadband WiFi when at home--but even that's been improved with the ability now to connect to the 5GHz band. Considering almost every one of my internet capable products at home, save for the laptop, connects to my 2.4GHz band, this will allow me to free up at least one thirsty accessory from that crowded well. And that's bound to help!

So, these are the main improvements the iPhone 5 has over its 2-year old predecessor. The newer iteration is also 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the old, which just tickles me to no end. And with much better mic pickup and speakers, I'll be noticing quite the boost to the one area that is the phone's actual main purpose: making calls!

Therefore, is it no wonder that--unlike those Apple doomsayers out there who were disappointed with the Sep. 12th unveiling in San Francisco--I'm probably one of the few tech-conscious consumers who's actually excited for the company's newest gadget?

Yes, I buy into the Apple mindset. At least when it comes to phones. I probably won't ever end up buying a Mac computer, however. I'm not that much enamored with the company. But the iPhone is something I've spent the better part of 4 years becoming familiar with, and it's now my go to all-in-one mobile device. Not just for making calls, but for my music, reading, and Netflix watching needs as well. (Yes, apparently I'm one of the few people that can watch Netflix on a phone and be totally okay with it. Probably because I only watch old tv shows on it.)

To those still on the fence on whether or not to make their next smartphone purchase a Galaxy S III or an iPhone 5, consider also that Apple is still tops in customer service and product support. And if you live in or near a major conurbation such as New York City, then feel comforted in the knowledge that if anything should ever go wrong with your shiny new phone, you can simply walk into a nearby Apple store for aid. A service that, let's face it, is rather hit or miss if you decide to go to your nearest service carrier's brick-and-mortar store instead. Living in NYC as I do, I can't tell you how relieved it makes me to be able to go to one of five Apple retail stores spread out across the isle of Manhattan whenever I have a problem. After all, sometimes a sympathetic human touch is all that separates your tech snafus from happy inconveniences to full-blown meltdown. Not to mention that Apple is very good about replacing your merchandise no questions asked if the situation warrants this. Try getting Samsung customer support to do that. No, seriously, try. I can already tell you: it's not pretty.

But far be it from me to come across as an Apple spokesperson here on this blog. I'm not. And unless you have some comfortable familiarity with their products and/or consider yourself not very tech savvy, I would even recommend the S III to my friends instead. Hey, it's more bang for the buck, sure. Or is it? Because unless you know how to make full use of all those snazzy options (rooting, flash storage upgrades, swappable battery, ginormous screen) and be proud of it, you might find yourself with a flashy suped-up gizmo you don't know how to fully utilize. And then, in that case, there's no more reason for you to chose Samsung's beauty over Apple's.

Unless, of course, you're a Droid OS lover. In which case . . . may the Force be with you, bro. Ain't nothing I can do about that.

If you like to sound off about just how very, very wrong I am, please meet me outside in the comments section and be prepared for the fisticuffs. Or, just leave a comment below commemorating your love for either the iPhone or Galaxy. It's all good, baby.


  1. You're hilarious! I regret to inform you that I have no interest whatsoever in the iPhone, no matter what number it is. I don't know, I'm not tech savvy (I know, hard to believe right?)nor do I get what all the fuss is about. I have a touchscreen phone that serves it's purpose -at least for me. But hey, I'm so happy that you are so excited about your new phone! teehehe

    It sounds like you had a good birthday! Yay! And hold on, you made brownies? Wiht walnuts?


    1. Sadly, sans walnuts. I can't stand walnuts in baked goods. I can eat them straight up, sure. But don't let a walnut anywhere near my mixing bowl! :)

      Oh, and the iPhone or any other so-called "smart" phone can becomes quickly indispensable once you start to use one. To the point of you not knowing how you ever made it through life without one. Yeah, that might be hard to believe, but trust me . . . it's true!

  2. Love the review you hit on some very key points with the iPhone 5. I feel if you want a more controlled sandbox where it feels safer iPhone is for you I compare the galaxy s3 to a beach lot more to do there but if you're not careful you can drown just my opinion from a former apple head.

    1. That's true, too, Bob. There's something for everyone out there, depending on what you want out of your phone.

      And thanks for leaving a reply. Your first ever after all these years! :)

  3. Okay. Perfect timing with this post because...help. I've had my little phone for years...like 5. Please don't laugh at me. Okay, laugh a little.

    It goes online, but the screen is so small that it doesn't load half the sites I go to. I'd like to be able to access e-mail and stuff on my phone, but I can't. So...

    1. Is an i-phone (or any of its competitors) secure/safe to check e-mails and stuff?

    2. Do you need a provider/contract when using an i-phone? I keep seeing ads for contract-free, pay as you go stuff, and the phones 'look' like these big, i-phone-y things.

    I'm not tech-savvy...at all. SO any help you can give 'lil dumb me would be AMAZING and much appreciated. *blushes*

    1. Hi Frisky! Nice to see you back! :)

      Don't worry, I'm not laughing (much). No, honestly, it's perfectly normal to have a 5 year old piece of electronics. As expensive as things are these days, I certainly don't blame you. But when it's so old that it's getting in the way of you doing the things you want to do with it, then yeah ... it might be time for a little upgrade.

      In answer to your questions:

      1. All modern smart phones are safe and secure enough to check e-mail on. If you're worried about losing your phone and someone else being able to login to your e-mail, just quickly change your e-mail password from another internet capable device (e.g., home PC, work PC, public PC, or another friend's phone.) Alternately, you can also set a password on your phone itself. Everyone checks e-mail from their phones nowadays, so the risk is fairly minimal.

      2. For the iPhone you do need service with either AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint. You don't need to sign any contracts with either of these if you don't want to (although it does come recommended), but you will still have to pay the monthly service cost. However, signing up with two-year contracts with these providers offer you a discount. A basic iPhone 4 (2010's model) will come free with a 2-year contract right now. But if you purchased the phone with no contract, it could cost you many of hundreds of dollars. You have to decide if the greater cost is worth not being tied to a contract and provider. There are providers like Metro PCS which will let you buy very cheap and basic smart phones with no contract, but these won't be any of the more popular brand of phones.

      Personally, I don't think 2-year contract commitments are all that bad. I mean, you're going to need a service provider anyway. And more than likely you'll want to keep that phone around for more than 2 years, too. So why not sign up for a contract and save some money? But, I'm not you. So the choice is totally yours.

  4. Happy birthday and checkout the Apple comic on The Oatmeal.
    The site, I mean. Sounds like I just gave you a breakfast recipe.

    1. Thanks for the clarification, Ant. I almost dropped my phone in my cereal. Phew!

      I saw the strip. Pretty funny, actually! I hear it's even worse if you're an Adroid user.


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