We just spent a good amount of time with the iPhone 5. The phone feels very thin and light (obviously), and the improvement in performance is very noticeable compared to the 4S. Apple didn't have any games (and obviously no benchmarks) preloaded on the iPhone 5 demo units so we'll have to wait until launch to really quantify performance.

The display does look noticeably better than the 4S and the extension of the screen height seems natural. We'll be posting more detailed impressions later on, but for now enjoy the photos/video below:

Update: So we've spent even longer with the iPhone 5 and have some pretty solid impressions of the device. First, the display is indeed noticeably more vibrant than the 4S, which isn't super surprising considering Apple's move from on-cell to in-cell touch and full sRGB coverage. We'll be able to tell in due time just how close it comes to 100% sRGB, but what we saw was very impressive. Touch response remains completely fluid and 1:1, if you're concerned about going to in-cell introducing digitizer recognition issues, rest assured there didn't seem to be any here.

The iPhone 5 also feels substantially different in the hand. It always shocks me how much a simple materials change makes something feel, and it's always impossible to convey these differences, but the lighter and thinner form factor is very perceptible. The 4 and 4S always felt solid, the 5 moves to a much more ethereal form, and the lightness almost makes it feel like a hollow metal box. It's very hard to convey. Likewise the cutouts at top and bottom appear to be glass, but there's no noticeable gap between them and the unibody metal main body; this is very polished.

One of the questions I had upon seeing the change to 16:9 aspect ratio was what the landscape keyboard UI would look like with this larger real estate. The answer is that it simply extends all the way across and takes full advantage of it. 

Apple didn't call out the nanoSIM explicitly, but side by side with the 4S it is immediately obvious this is indeed true, as the removable slot indeed is smaller. You can see that above.

The 4 and 4S construction consisted of two glass plates which snapped onto the metal antenna band that circled the phone. With the 5 this changes fundamentally - the back no longer has a piece which attaches, and likewise there's no corresponding gap on the top for the display. The 5 instead has a polished edge chamfer which runs around the external band. In addition the 5 also continues to use the dual cellular antenna architecture first introduced with the iPhone 4 CDMA for Verizon, then made official on the 4S. These are the bands whose position remains roughly the same on the 5. 

Performance is noticeably improved on the 5 as expected given the presence of two Cortex A15 CPUs inside the new Apple A6 SoC. Of course, Apple allowed no benchmarking at the event so we couldn't run any objective tests, but we pulled up Maps and 3D buildings which didn't appear to drop any frames. Compared side by side with the 4S showing 3D buildings in downtown San Francisco it was even more dramatic. Safari loaded pages quickly over the event WiFi and on LTE, but we couldn't explicitly time anything. 

Inside Settings Apple has included an LTE toggle just like on the iPad 3 with 4G LTE. I didn't get a chance to see if FieldTest.app was present, unfortunately. 

Camera on the 5 launched and performed very well. I was able to rapidly snap photos on the device, though it's always hard to tell whether this is any faster than the previous generation without using a timer or capturing video. As a reminder, the iPhone 5 camera is still 8MP with likely the same CMOS sensor as the 4S, but slightly different optics. This time around the iPhone 5 rear camera is still F/2.4 but has a slightly wider field of view. Focal length appears to be slightly changed. Panorama works very well on the 5, it appears to be continually integrating while moving rather than taking a small number of individual captures. Apple has also changed the camera UI just for the iPhone 5 it appears, with a circular capture button and edge to edge bleeds for the preview. This looks a lot like the iPad camera interface. I played with the new 720p front facing camera as well, and quality looked good.  

Note, this number is just an ASOS station I use for testing

Before heading off to play with the new iPods, I also placed a call to Anand and got some worried plus puzzled looks from onlookers. I think it's safe to say that we're living in the future when using a phone like a phone draws ire. In that brief time though I was able to roughly gauge voice call quality, which seemed very good. Interestingly enough I could tell that the earpiece noise suppression was working, as I felt the same kind of light pressure I do with active noise cancelation headsets. 

I switched one of the demo units from WiFi (which was no doubt on 5 GHz, as it was working properly in an environment with crowded 2.4 GHz spectrum) to LTE and though I wasn't allowed to run a speed test, pages loaded quickly and there appeared to be no issues. There are three different models with different air interface and band support, as unfortunately even with MDM9615 there's no way for Apple to deliver truly world-mode LTE compatibility with all of the bands on one device. The PCB shots I saw this morning also seemed to suggest RTR8600 instead of WTR1605 like I originally suspected for transceiver, though the baseband is indeed MDM9615. Of course, you still need the corresponding power amplifiers even with a transceiver that supports more ports. 

Overall after our short time with the iPhone 5 I'm very positive about the end result. The combination of new silicon and LTE alongside display and camera improvements craft a very positive outlook for Apple's iPhone line. 

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 Apple iPhone 4S Apple iPhone 5 Samsung Galaxy S 3
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 115.2 mm (4.5") 123.8 mm (4.87") 136.6 mm (5.38")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 58.6 mm (2.31") 58.6 mm (2.31") 70.6 mm (2.78")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 7.6 mm (0.30") 8.6 mm (0.34")
Weight 137 g (4.8 oz) 140 g (4.9 oz) 112 g (3.95 oz) 133 g (4.7 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz Cortex A8 Apple A5 @ ~800MHz Dual Core Cortex A9 Apple A6 (Dual Core Cortex A15?) 1.5 GHz MSM8960 Dual Core Krait
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 PowerVR SGX 543MP2 ? Adreno 225
RAM 512MB LPDDR1-400 512MB LPDDR2-800 ? 2GB LPDDR2
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 16GB, 32GB or 64GB integrated 16GB, 32GB or 64GB integrated 16GB or 32GB NAND with up to 64GB microSDXC
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8MP with LED Flash + 720p Front Facing Camera 8 MP with LED flash + 1.9 MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4" 1136 x 640 LED backlit LCD 4.8" 1280 x 720 HD Super AMOLED
Battery Integrated 5.254Whr Integrated 5.291Whr Integrated ?? Whr Removable 7.98 Whr


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  • iLoveiOS - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    not true.
  • SilverRubicon - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Nothing has changed with Apple, it's not about the specs of the phone. It's about the usability and the ecosystem.
  • Tegeril - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Except for the part where it now, ostensibly, has the best SoC of any phone on the market.
  • jwcalla - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    The SoC piques my interest the most with this phone. I'm eager to see if this is a straight Cortex-A15 design or more of a Krait-like hybrid. The S4 Pro is a beast after all.

    It's great that Apple didn't skimp on the SoC since A15s will likely be shipping Q4 and it would be silly to start the year off behind the competition.

    Unfortunately we can never get a clean benchmark of the Apple chips since the compiler toolchain and underlying software, kernel, etc. play a huge role in performance.
  • chripuck - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    Except for the part where as of now we're only guessing it's an A15 chip. A single slide claiming double the performance could simply be an indicator that it is a quad core A5 with needed OS improvements for multi-threading or it's running at a higher clockspeed.
  • menting - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    a dual core A15 is nice, but saying it's the best SoC, when then S4 pro on phones (LG, Xiaomi) have already been announced for recent release is just flat out wrong.
  • henryhbk - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Because as someone who develops software for the iOS platform, I am very grateful that they didn't change both dimensions, thank you very much. My apps currently happen to be screen size independent, but lots of apps aren't (and may not make sense to be). This allows apps from day 1 to work without some horrible scaling. Also as someone with human size hands, I can't reach the far side of one of these ridiculous sized phones. If I wanted a tablet at that moment I would use my iPad; however I am using a phone, which generally means one hand, which means my thumb has to reach. Sorry, wider phones are a fail ergonomically.

    While it is true that droids have had LTE, their chips weren't universal, so you had to pick your network ahead of time (now why is 2012 LTE they couldn't fix this in general for LTE is beyond me, although it is better than the 3G world was). Also this chipset uses a lot less power (i.e. battery) than the generation from some time back, so no objection that they waited; I will take battery life any day over some theoretical speed difference (I say theoretical because I don't find 3G particularly slow for anything I do on my phone while walking around town - I am a heavy user, but rarely when out and about, and everywhere I go has WiFi).
  • iLoveiOS - Friday, September 14, 2012 - link

    This is true! 1,000,000 Likes for this.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Adding LTE before Qualcomm's 28nm chip (which was JUST released) would have resulted in half the battery life. This is why LTE on Android phones outside of the giant ones is do terrible. Apple didn't want to compromise on battery life or size, so they waited. Great timing too, given that LTE is finally showing up in more places. Two years ago it was a battery chugging feature with limited coverage.
  • tech01x - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    <quote>Oh boy, LTE that Droids have only had for 2 years. Apple on the cutting edge.</quote>

    The original iPhone shipped with EDGE instead of 3G, for a reason. Same reason why the iPhone 4S shipped w/o LTE. It wasn't ready. It's not about being first, necessarily, it's about making the "right" engineering choices for most people. Bringing advanced technology when it has been done right. The iPhone 5 uses the Qualcomm MDM9615M with the new 28nm process so that it has 8 hours of "LTE Browsing Time" as defined at: http://www.apple.com/iphone/battery.html

    And that is with a mere 5.45 Whr battery. The Droid Bionic with the extended battery which is 10.2 Whr lated 5 hours in Anandtech's web browsing test. On the standard 6.6 Whr battery, the Droid Bionic lasted a mere 3.2 hours. Apple doesn't want to ship crap like that, especially when LTE networks themselves were just rolling out. As AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon finish up their LTE rollouts and people's early generation LTE handsets get LTE instead of 3G service, they'll see a huge drop in battery life.

    See http://www.anandtech.com/show/4910/motorola-droid-...

    The HTC Thunderbolt gets all of 2.872 hours on LTE. Again, Apple doesn't ship that crap. If you wanted LTE that bad, then great! You go enjoy. Most people want phones that last most of the day.

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