Tuesday, November 27, 2012

iPhone 5 - Everything you need to know-2

Apple has moved from a now fairly standard microSIM to an even smaller nanoSIM, so if you’re buying the phone without a contract/SIM you’ll need to contact your network to get a new SIM or get the scissors out. You should be able to chop down most newer SIMs as the contacts layout is the same.

Other changes include the headphone jack which has now moved from the top edge down to the bottom. Having it here does seem a bit odd at first but it actually makes sense in day to day use. When held in the hand the headphone cable hangs downwards out the way and when you go to put the phone into or take it out of a pocket you don't have to change your grip to do so - give it a go and you'll see what we mean.

Alongside the headphone jack are newly designed microphone and speaker grills and of course the new Lightning dock connection. The former are now covered by small drilled holes, rather than one large opening, while the latter is a replacement for the wide, 30-pin dock connector of old.

The new connector will carry audio, HD video, data (at fast USB 3.0 speeds) and of course charge the phone, with adapters available to convert the signal to just about any other type of connection you could name. Lightning is also reversible so you don’t need to worry about which way round you’re plugging it in.

A connector is available that converts the new connector to the old one but, while reports have flitted back and forth on this, we can confirm that one is not included in the box. You get just the new USB cable, UK plug and the SIM removal tool. The adapter will set you back a rather hefty £25.

To comply with EU regulations that stipulate microUSB must be used as the standard connection for all new phones, Apple does offer a Lightning to microUSB adapter for £15 too.

Getting back to the phone itself, the final pieces of the puzzle are the cameras. The rear one retains the same core specs as the iPhone 4S but it’s 30 percent thinner, to allow the phone’s overall thickness to come down. As for the front facing one, it now sits above the earpiece rather than off to the side, and it can shoot 720p video, up from 480p.

All told then, as a piece of industrial design, the iPhone 5 is mostly a triumph. We’d prefer it to be a little more comfortable in the hand and we’ll have to wait and see about those issues with the colour chipping off. But it’s easy to handle and exudes luxury.

iPhone 5 review - Screen

Taking a closer look at the iPhone 5’s larger screen, Apple has finally responded to the popularity of larger and larger rival handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and LG Optimus 4X HD. But, instead of leaping up to an enormous 4.7 or 4.8in screen it has simply made the existing one a bit taller.

The result is a phone that still fits comfortably in the hand but which can fit an extra row of icons on screen and is better suited to watching video thanks to its 16:9 aspect ratio. There is still a noticeable step up in size and visual impact going for those even larger phones but there’s still enough of an improvement here that you’d be reasonably happy to watch a full movie while out and about, whereas on the 4S is was a bit too cramped.

From left to right: Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy S3, LG Optimus 4X HD, Apple iPhone 5 and Apple iphone 4S.

In terms of pixels, you still get the same pixel density of 320ppi as the iPhone 4/4S but here 176 more rows of pixels have been added to fill the extra height. As such it’s still an incredibly sharp display that’s superb for reading fine text and picking out tiny details in images. That said, the total resolution is still a step behind that on its big screen rivals which offer 720 x 1280 pixels for a total pixel count of 921,600 compared to the iPhone 5’s 727,040.

The quality of the screen has improved too. Apple has joined many other rivals in removing a layer from the screen production process, with the LCD display now built right onto the front pane of glass. The result is astonishingly good viewing angles, plus Apple has increased colour saturation by 44 percent and the display now uses the sRGB colour gamut - the colour standard used by most other computing devices. It really is superb.

One potential downside of the bigger screen will be old apps that haven’t been converted to support the longer screen. The phone will add black bars top and bottom or on either side (depending on orientation) to fit the app in the screen’s centre, so it will look just like it does on an old iPhone. This is a sensible solution but some may find these black bars a little distracting – a bit like watching an old non-widescreen TV show on your new widescreen telly - but the quality of the screen is so high that we certainly didn’t find it too much of a problem.

We’d probably still give the overall awesome-screen crown to the HTC One X for its quality, size and resolution but if you like your phones a bit smaller the iPhone is up there with the best.

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