iPhone 5 review: A class act

Before we begin, I would like to make two things very clear: one, I am not an iDevice fan. Two, I love my Android phone.

When the iPhone 5 arrived at Burn HQ, something interesting happened. I was asked to review it, the biggest iDevice critic in town. I should have and would have said no, but the device was placed in my palm and everything changed…

This phone has been anticipated for so long that some doubted its existence. It was becoming the stuff of legend, the sought after “holy grail” of Apple’s kingdom — but here it is at last.

The iPhone 5 is pretty much everything iPhone 4S users wanted when they purchased their device. In fact, this phone is the handset all iPhone users wished Apple had given them years ago — a larger display, a faster processor and 4G capabilities.


The new design is the perfect combination of sexy, slick and suave. The much slimmer and incredibly light smartphone ticks all the right boxes when it comes to design: there are no flaws here. Weighing in at just 112g, the iPhone sheds 20% off the 4S’ 140g and 14% off the Samsung S3’s weight (an incredibly light device) — it’s been working out.

Say what you want about Apple, but it knows how to design phones

The thinner, taller and lighter iPhone 5 also comes with a larger screen. Sliding in with 1136×640 pixels compared to the 4S’s 960×640, both at 326ppi, the new screen fits in six rows of icons instead of five but still allows for one thumb swiping, which I am afraid Samsung’s larger offering (the S3) doesn’t accommodate.

Sure it’s hardly a hectic redesign but it makes for a refreshing change. The back of the phone is made from aluminium and has a distinctive stripe across the device’s rear that continues around the sides. It is a touch similar to the metal casing the MacBook Pro has. Though it feels incredibly fragile in your hands it is pretty tough, and has managed to withstand the intense use of crazed bustling through holiday seasoning shopping — no scratches.

The iPhone 5 is more about redesigning existing features rather than introducing gobsmacking new ones.


It’s pretty fast, the only other phone I have used that is this fast is the Galaxy S3. The iPhone 5 has Apple’s A6 chip processor with 1.2GHz Dual-Core — it packs some heat. The Samsung Galaxy S3 on the other hand boasts Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Processor with 1.5 GHz Dual-Core. When put to the test, I found them evenly matched with Samsung beating out the iPhone 5 only once. However the iPhone 5 does lack in RAM with only 1GB compared to Samsung’s 2GB.

Surfing the net is a pleasure, I was using Vodacom’s 3G and it moved like the Flash.

Well it’s definitely thinner

The iPhone 5 does handle well, with no apparent sluggishness. The amount of power this baby has makes gaming amazing. Frame rates stay high and steady but it comes at a price – heat. The more gaming you do, the hotter the phone gets, sometimes too hot to hold. Interestingly, the S3 also had the same problem. Someone in the mobile industry should look into that.

Another issue I’ve had is random reboots. The issue is patchy and really seems to be unrelated to any one thing as far as I have noticed. The phone locks then shuts down only to display the Apple symbol a few seconds later and reboot to the lock screen. The reboot is fairly quick but happens at random with no noticeable prompt.


To be honest, I am not sure discussing the OS is worth it; anyone who is using iOS 6 pretty much knows that it’s pretty snazzy. Aside from that little maps thing, the bitchin’ OS gives users seamless experience that makes the phone an extension of yourself.

Siri, aside from being mildly amusing to mess with is a battery whore and barely comprehends my instructions. I say stick to doing things without the voice assist.


Okay, Samsung take note. Retina Display where have you been all my life? The bigger screen, the 1136×640 pixel spread with a 800:1 contrast ratio, 500 cd/m2 max brightness (typical) and fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on the iPhone 5 is a beaut. Everything seems quite dull in comparison.

Sporting a 16:9 aspect ratio makes watching movies on your mobile quite the affair, with no annoying black bars above and below. Though, films shot in 4:3 will still play with black bars above and below the picture, you can zoom in by double-tapping the screen.

The big screen also makes it easier to handle those intensely long emails from your boss that require a bit of finesse and some careful wording. This is where I enjoyed the extra size more.


Hello 8-megapixel iSight camera, is that 1080p you’re shooting in? Well isn’t that just wonderful. Though the 4S had the same basic camera, the iPhone 5 does perform a little better in low light. It has superior video stabilisation and produces much more vibrant colours, which makes all the difference.

The big news here is the “Panorama” camera functionality, which is truly remarkable, but Samsung has had it for years. It’s quite cool. Start moving the camera, take a picture, and it will keep snapping until you have a 28MP scene. What is interesting about Apple’s Panorama is that unlike Samsung’s it doesn’t require you to stand still and move the camera, you can move and it will keep snapping. A win here for the guys at Cupertino.

Video is picture-perfect and it records at 1080p with the rear and 720p with the front facing camera but that’s old hat for the S3 and other Samsung devices.

Battery life

The battery life is pretty decent, and I am not the average user. My average day includes browsing the web, checking email, sending a millions of text messages, long international calls, and checking in with apps like Twitter, Pulse and Facebook. For all that, I only charged it once a day.

According to Apple, the iPhone 5 can provide at least 8 hours of talk time, up to 225 hours on standby, up to 8 hours on 3G, up to 8 hours on LTE, up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi with video and audio playback sitting at 10 hours and 40 hours respectively.


When I got my iPod, I had to use Samsung earphones with it because the Apple ones were so bad and hurt my ears, when they weren’t falling out. It seems the company has learnt. The new earpods are far superior to any Apple ones I have used before, still not the same standard as Samsung’s but much better sound quality. They stay in your ear and don’t hurt after an hour or so.

Lightning port: I am sure this sounded like a good idea at first, but what were they thinking? Every accessory previous iPhone owners had is now useless unless they are willing to shell out for extra cords. For new users it’s also an issue and has manufacturers needing to build the accessories that go with the iPhone 5. Luckily, there are adaptors.


Though many people called this phone boring when it first surfaced, I must politely disagree. As a confessed Android fan, I love this phone. Yes there are a few kinks here and there but no phone is perfect, but this one comes pretty darn close.

New iPhone users will love it and hardcore fans will warm to its simplicity and elegance. If you’re worried about its fragility, get a case.

Dear Santa: can I get an iPhone 5 this Christmas? I have been awfully good this year…



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