iPhone

iPhone 5: What you need to know before buying

Wil Limoges says there's a lot to like about the new iPhone 5, but there are a couple of issues to consider before you pre-order. Make sure you read those model specs carefully.

Apple held a special event in which the new iPhone 5 was unveiled. For those of you who have been keeping up, there weren’t to many surprises aside from some iPod updates, and new version of iTunes. For those of you who haven’t, here is the break down.

The iPhone 5’s most notable feature is the new and beautiful 4-inch retina display. Thankfully, Apple didn’t stop there. The iPhone 5 also has a new unibody design made completely of aluminum and glass along with an upgraded A6 processor.

Here’s a run down of additional new hardware features:

  • CDMA and GSM 4G LTE that Apple is calling Ultrafast wireless
  • A new Lightning port and connector
  • An enhanced 8-megapixel iSight camera with flash
  • A front facing 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera
  • Better battery life
  • New headphones called EarPods

In addition to the hardware updates, iPhone 5 will ship with iOS 6, which I’ve had a chance to play around with. So far the verdict is, well, pretty awesome. I’ve enjoyed using the new Maps app, which I discovered does have selections for walking and local transit, but haven’t really determined how well it works. iOS 6 has several other new features as well that will compliment the hardware quite nicely.

Again a quick run down of iOS 6:

  • Siri has been updated and so far it’s worked really well for me.
  • The new Maps App with Flyover and Turn by Turn directions have been a joy to use.
  • Updated store Apps: iBooks, App Store, iTunes Store all have a fresh look and great search features.
  • Deeper iCloud integration (Restoring from my iCloud back up worked flawlessly!)
  • Passbook
  • Facebook integration
  • The addition of VIP status in Mail
  • Photo Sharing from within the Photo App
  • Facetime over Cellular
  • Great new calling features such as Reply with Message or Send to Voicemail
  • Safari iCloud tabs
  • High-resolution panorama in the Camera App

What you might not have caught

Now that we have the obvious stuff out of the way, lets talk for a moment about a few things that have been glossed over. First, lets chat about the new Lighting connector. I'm sure a few of you are going to lose some sleep over this one initially, however, it’s a good move on Apple’s part. The benefits of reducing the size of the port are improved battery life and and eventually smaller peripherals. One thing that caught me by surprise, however, is that the cable is USB 2.0. There isn’t a lot of information regarding the cable on Apple’s website, but I was able to find it within the Apple online store where the specs are posted. I can’t say for certain that this is truly the case, but it appears Apple may have pulled a quick one on us. It’s possible that the port's days are numbered as is due to the possibility of wireless charging in the future, and it may be that Apple truly believes that most every one is using Wi-Fi to sync their devices these days. This is true for me, but considering I don’t have any other USB 3.0, then my USB 3.0 ports are going to waste. It is very likely that Apple has an upgrade path in mind and may make an additional 3.0 cable available or will upgrade it in a future product. One can always hope.

The other item that I discovered that was not mentioned in the presentation is that now the iPhone has several different models. The iPhone 5 comes in both black and white flavors, and sports 16-, 32-, and 64-GB versions, but it also comes in multiple wireless models as well. Apple’s website has done well to play this down, but if you drill down to the Tech Spec found on the iPhone 5 area of Apple’s website, you’ll find an interesting surprise. The iPhone 5 is no longer a world phone.

Here are what the specs provide:

GSM model A1428*: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 4 and 17)

CDMA model A1429*: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)

GSM model A1429*: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5)

Why? My guess would be to reduce battery consumption and save space to make the iPhone 5 remarkably thin. Is it worth the tradeoff? For some, maybe, but I highly recommend that you deeply consider this before placing your pre-order. What this means in a nutshell is that if you travel or are considering switching networks in the near future, you’ll want to think really hard about what model you’re going to buy. Since each version of the phone supports specific networks, you will almost undoubtedly be locked into your provider not just throughout the duration of your contract, but until you’re ready to buy your next phone. There is an exception and that is if you were to purchase the GSM model, which both AT&T and T-Mobile support. Additionally, when you travel, you’ll want to make certain that you choose the phone that supports the widest available networks in the areas where you’ll be traveling.

Granted there are a few pitfalls here and there, but ultimately I’m super excited about the iPhone 5 and can’t wait to get my hands on one!

Update: Apple has posted a list of iPhone 5 feature availability based on region. You can find the page here.

About

Wil Limoges is a Louisville, KY freelance web designer and Digital Savant at the vimarc group. He has had the pleasure of working for Apple as a Genius, loves science, and aspires to make great things!

7 comments
majortomgb
majortomgb

How exactly does making a connector smaller improve the battery life, does the electric fall ou slower or something?

rhonin
rhonin

As a frequent traveler, I am replacing a failing i4 ( back up phone, GNexus is primary) and did have to pay close attention when ordering a new i5. While I am not adverse trade offs, this one seems to be of minimal benefit and more geared toward either a want to instill more stringent control OR the device was not quite ready for prime time and rushed out the door. From either perspective, it is disconcerting from a company with a lot to lose in the reputation department.

su3264
su3264

BUT, let's all remember the No1 criticism of the iPhone4... Dropped calls, lack of signal strength. I have a friend who is changing back to his Late 17th Century Blackberry because it simply works more reliably here in UK where signal strength is often marginal. The fact not a word had been mentioned, suggests to me the problem has not been solved. Comments?

robo_dev
robo_dev

wahhh,wa wa, waaa,waa < reasons not to buy the new iPhone Versus my basic cave-man-brain with respect to technology: Fire BAD! Old phone BAD! iPhone 5 NEW! NEW GOOD! Me want NEW! :)

blipsman
blipsman

Since GSM is more prevalent overseas and the CDMA model also includes GSM radios, how much of an issue is this really? Can you provide any sort of real world locations where there would be issues overseas w/ the various models?

OurITLady
OurITLady

To be honest I thought CDMA was on the way out in most countries, certainly here in Canada most wireless companies seem to be moving away from it. Would love to know where these various models wouldn't work (at least region if not specific examples) as some of our guys were thinking of moving on to the iPhone 5 and travel could be a potential issue.

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