IPhone 5 makes the critics gush

Reviewers love the thinner design, but one quibbles with the device's new connector, which could mean a pricey replacement bill for users.

By Kim Peterson Sep 19, 2012 11:24AM
The first reviews are coming in for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 5, which goes on sale Friday. And although some tech observers have dismissed the phone as merely an incremental upgrade over the iPhone 4S, reviewers say the device is still amazing.

"I still consider the iPhone the best smartphone on the market, especially with its staggering 700,000 third-party apps and a wealth of available content," writes Walt Mossberg at AllThingsD. The iPhone 5 starts at $200 for a model with 16GB of storage (a two-year contract is required).

Mossberg like the taller size of the iPhone, saying it's easier to hold and use than larger rivals. The phone feels much lighter -- in fact it's 20% lighter and 18% thinner -- but it still has a substantial heft to it, Mossberg said.

The biggest improvement, he said, is speed, since Apple has given the iPhone 5 compatibility with LTE networks. "Apple has taken an already great product and made it better, overall," he said. "Consumers who prefer huge screens or certain marginal features have plenty of other choices, but the iPhone 5 is an excellent choice."

Engadget's Tim Stevens writes that the phone's screen looks fantastic. The iPhone 4S already had one of the best displays around as far as brightness, contrast and pixel density, he writes, adding that "the iPhone 5 brings that up another notch."

Stevens also writes that the new phone loads apps noticeably faster, and the iPhone 5 stayed alive for 11 hours and 15 minutes on Engadget's standard battery test, where the phone plays video and runs LTE and Wi-fi connections continuously.

"This is without a doubt the best iPhone yet," he writes. "This is a hallmark of design. This is the one you've been waiting for."

CNet calls the iPhone 5 "the iPhone we've always wanted." It's not as exciting as previous iPhones, writes Scott Stein. Nor does it change the smartphone game, since rivals have already nailed many of the features the iPhone 5 is just getting. But he says the iPhone 5 at least ranks in the top three smartphones.

You'll be shocked at how light the phone is, Stein writes. His review is huge (go here to read the whole thing). "It's hard to find a single part that hasn't been tweaked from the iPhone 4S," Stein writes. "The iPhone 5 is at once completely rebuilt and completely familiar."

Finally, David Pogue of The New York Times also praises the design and marvels at the lightness and thinness. But he has a bone to pick with Apple over its decision to replace the old iPhone charging connector with a much smaller replacement connector called Lightning.

The problem is that Lightning doesn't work with any existing accessories or chargers. Apple sells a $30 adapter, which at that price can add up if you have several older chargers.

"Actually, Apple has a long history of killing off technologies, inconveniently and expensively, that the public had come to love -- even those that Apple had originally developed and promoted," Pogue writes. "Somehow, life goes on, and Apple gets even bigger."

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