Apple iPhone 5 Hands-on: Crazy Light, Dazzling Screen, Super Powerful

The iPhone 5 is reportedly the thinnest smartphone in the world, measuring just 0.3 inches thin, but the first thing you notice about the iPhone when you pick it up is just how light it is. At 3.95 ounces, Apple’s sequel is a full ounce lighter than the iPhone 4S (4.9 ounces), despite packing in a larger 4-inch display. It really is remarkable when you consider that this handset uses glass and aluminum instead of plastic like some competitors.

And what a sight this screen is. The 1136 x 640-pixel screen is fantastic. Not only do you get an additional row of icons, but developers will be taking full advantage of this additional real estate with apps that fit more info on the screen. We quickly fired up CNN and were impressed with the slick layout. Here’s the rest of our first impressions.

The A6 chip under the hood provided fluid performance during our hands-on time. The camera fired even faster than on the iPhone 4S. Speaking of the 8-MP camera, low-light performance does seem to be improved, and we really like the new panorama feature. Just touch options in the camera view, select this option, and your iPhone 5 will guide you through the process, keeping you lined up and even warning you to slow down if you go too fast. The resulting pics impressed, which equal 28 megapixels.

The design is sturdy and super-slim. And we like that it’s just as narrow as before, which makes it easier for one-finger typing when you’re on the go. Our only gripe is that the headphone connector is on the bottom. The new Lightning connector is tiny but the cable end is reversible so you can’t insert it the wrong way. Although we were in a loud room, the speakers do seem to have more oomph than before, which we noticed when playing back videos.

We didn’t get a chance to play around with the LTE chip inside the Verizon version we had, but we expect much better performance than the iPhone 4s. Having 4G LTE on Android makes everything faster, including loading websites and maps. The new maps app also looks gorgeous, especially when you initiate the flyover feature with a two-finger swipe down.

So what’s missing? NFC is not on board, so it doesn’t seem as though Apple will be joining the mobile payment party anytime soon. NFC would also let you share photos with a tap, although Shared Photo Streams accomplishes this over the cloud. The Galaxy S III and HTC One X also have an edge when it comes to burst mode shooting. We didn’t see such an option on the iPhone 5. Nor is there anything like a Best Shot mode.

Overall, though, the iPhone 5 looks like a winner. It crams a lot of powerful new features into a first-class design that people will be clamoring for.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Brandon Eliason Says:

    The screen’s resolution is not 1366 by 768, it is 1136 by 640

  2. Shopnohin Says:

    This is the biggest joke of the decade..
    After all the hype n waiting , this is what apple calls innovation.. Just little improvements over previous specs..
    Just dissapointed to see how die hard Apple fan laptopmag is.. You have to be honest in ur reviews.,

  3. Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    The error was corrected. thanks. As for being die hard Apple fans, please note the section on what’s missing, our comparison vs. other phones and stories like Top 10 iPhone alternatives. And the Editors Choice Award for the Motorola Droid RAZR M and Samsung Galaxy S III (for Verizon).

  4. Phil T Says:

    The back looks terrible. The rest is nice. (Though I still prefer the looks of the HTC ONE X(white) over this any day)

  5. Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief Says:

    I agree the HTC One X is still one of the better looking phones. In fact, we named a bunch of HTC phones to our most stylish list.

  6. Dr. Dornon Says:

    You call this a great screen? It’s 1136×640 resolution at 326 PPI. The Lumia is running at 1280×768 at 332 PPI. It’s also worse than the S3, it’s one of the worse. Apple really disappointed a lot of people with this and I think people will be hopping to the Android or WP ship this fall.

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