Cometh a new year, cometh a new iPhone — that indeed has been the cycle that has been followed since Steve Jobs turned the phone world topsy-turvy by launching the very first iPhone way back in 2007. This year has been no different, although in a welcome change from the past, the new edition of the iPhone has winged its way to the Indian market in a relatively short span of time. And with its arrival, amidst much queuing for the first units, it has sparked off a debate that is also becoming an annual affair — ‘is it worth it?’ thanks to its rather stiff price tag.
Well, if we had to answer that question by just looking at the phone, our answer would be an unqualified “yes.” We have feasted our eyes on many a good-looking device but in terms of sheer appearance and feel, the iPhone 5 is very much in a zone of its own. At a time when most of its rivals mess around with plastics and carbonates, it is made of a blend of glass and aluminum. And in spite of having a bigger display than other iPhones in the past, it is incredibly slim and light (at 112 gm). This is perhaps the most pocket-friendly (in terms of size) large screen device ever. Though why you would like to keep it in your pocket is going to be the question. With its subtly diamond-polished edges (‘chamfers’ in Applespeak) and its smooth aluminum back, this is a phone that you would love to show off. Oh, and that is not glass on the 8.0-megapixel camera on the back — it is sapphire crystal. It has been a while since we have seen a phone radiate a premium feel like this. We don’t see too many people wanting to slap covers on to this beauty.
Excellent interiors that perform
Part of the annual iPhone ritual is upgradation of both hardware and software, and the iPhone 5 comes with both. On the hardware side, it comes with the biggest display ever seen on an iPhone — all of four inches with a resolution of 1136 x 640, and it is a retina display with 326 pixels per inch. Simple English — it’s markedly superior to the displays we have seen on the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4, and among the best we have seen on a handset, although in terms of resolution, it is a notch below the likes of the Sony Xperia Ion and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. There is a faster processor under the hood as well, and while some will scream “why not a quad core processor,” the fact remains that the dual core A6 processor on the iPhone 5 works just as well — and sometimes a whole lot faster (just see it stitch a panorama together or edit a video) — than some of the quad-core embedded worthies we have used. The
camera remains at 8.0-megapixels but seems to get more detail, especially in low light conditions.
And then there are what we consider the biggest strengths of the iPhone — the interface and the apps. Both are intact and as good as ever, with the OS having been bumped up to iOS6. There are no drop down menus to mess with — just tap an icon to launch an app or swipe your fingers to go from one screen to another. The apps remain awesome, with the exception of the new maps. There is enough to let you edit a video, create a tune, play high-definition games and videos, apart from doing the regular stuff like browsing the Web. What you cannot do, however, is rely on the preinstalled maps for finding your way around India — they are a disaster in terms of landmarks and navigation. Fortunately, there are a number of free alternatives available (we are using Waze at the moment). We are, however, keeping our fingers crossed for an update or for the return of Google Maps. Or both.
It costs a bomb!
If we had received the iPhone 5 three years ago, we would have complained about its non-expandable storage, lack of Flash support in browsing, limited Bluetooth connectivity and need to connect to iTunes for transferring music. Cut to 2012, and those things do not really matter that much — in fact, other manufacturers seem to be jumping on to those bandwagons themselves. What does matter however is the price of the device. And there’s no way of dodging it — at Rs 45,500 for the 16GB version, the iPhone 5 is one of the most expensive phones around. You will also need to get a nano SIM to get it into calling and texting mode (not a problem with Airtel and Aircel, a bit of a hassle with the others, as per our experience). You can file down your existing SIM to fit as well, just be careful.
Yes, it looks good. Yes, it works brilliantly. But we can see people hesitate when they see that price tag. So, is it worth it? Not really if you are in penny pinching mode or love to measure specs rather than performance. But if you are looking for the best phone around in terms of both performance and flaunt-value, we will paraphrase a Mughal emperor and say, “this is it, this is it, this is it.”