when revolutionary settles into evolutionary – iPhone 5

iphone5While usually one to be in line as an early ‘beta tester’ of new tech gadgets right after they’re released, mostly bearing an Apple logo, it took me until now to buy an iPhone 5. I’d briefly mulled a switch, my wife tolerates her HTC Droid, C|Net is trying to say the Galaxy 3S is (barely) better than the iPhone, but at the end of the day, I like my ecosystem, and would rather put my money with the leader and inventor of a segment, not the follower and all too often poor imitation. When I’m developing apps to be shot through the Objective C and Objective J prisms for both ecosystems I can still swipe my wife’s phone for testing, so I’m not against having another ecosystem in the house. While Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is a step up, like almost up to the Windows Vista of Android platform (not meant as a compliment) from Android’s previous Win 3.1 looks (which still exist today), it’s still just a mishmash hodgepodge trailing behind iOS. Not to mention the hardware of every other smart phone that doesn’t have an Apple logo on it is merely cheap plastics with no elegance or much thought put into them other than “can we rip off the iPhone while adding colored plastics, add a slight curve, and make a tackier?” I’m a designer through and through, I like my products actually designed. /endrant

The verdict is this, if my iPhone 4‘s cameras didn’t die – highly inconvenient once you’ve become a father and want to shoot gigabytes of photos and movies – forcing me to upgrade to the iPhone 5, I’d still be fine with my iPhone 4. Seriously. The iPhone 5 does have a nice taller screen. It’s lighter too, but I’m more partial to how the glass back felt on the previous model and don’t consider weight for my smart phone. It certainly responds much snappier with it’s all new A6 processor, and hey the camera works!

Speaking of cameras, at some point it doesn’t matter what the model and make of smartphone is, when the camera body is only yay [makes two fingers close together] thin, cramming more megapixels simply does not matter. I know, I’m not only a director of and lecturer of design but have been a photographer the majority of my life. Given a deep glass barrel lens that’s hitting a giant sensor verses a tiny opening, tiny plastic or even glass lens and a small sensor, it’s not even a competition. Yes, the iPhone, and some other smart phones, cameras are decent day-to-day if not even necessary what with QR codes and, did I mention babies, but if one thinks they’ll ever be a pinnacle of photography with a smart phone, you don’t know photography. It’s good for maybe Instagram regardless of their policies, and excellent to almost a must-have level in your pocket whether the photos are babies are kitties, that’s where smart phones shine, not to mention they’re a multiple use device. Beyond the camera I use mine for scheduling, looking up information, alarms, and oh yes, sometimes I use my smart phone as an actual PHONE! Just not as often as all those other things before it.

So if your iPhone is long in the tooth, or you’ve an older model that the screen is cracking, a button isn’t working, something is finally going wrong from all that use and abuse of being in your pocket, getting wet, and being used to the max as most of my iPhone using friends seem to as opposed to those with other platforms always breaking; if it’s time to retire the old iPhone, you can’t do wrong with the iPhone 5. Just don’t expect it to have the same ‘oooo shiny’ factor as your first iPhone, though if you’re coming over for Android, it may surprise you how good the leader is. Oh, and do yourself the favor, download the new Google Map App, trust me or what you heard, the Apple Maps App is just not up to par (yet) for use.

iphone5_headphoneOne last note, the new headphones are rather good. They’re definitely not true audiophile quality (I have those), but they’re a huge marked improvement from the previous, pop-out-of-your-ears-if-your-breathe-wrong, previous models. They do a decent job of reproducing a better range, including a little more bass. More importantly the stay in your ear! Maybe not while running on a treadmill hard but if you’re walking around they seem to stay put. No, they don’t isolate you from sound, they won’t help you walking down a city street, or on the Subway (may I suggest the JVC HANC 250s) or even in a loud conversations (may I suggest Sennheiser HD 280?), but they do an adequate job, which the previous ones did not. Also they do a very commendable job of noise canceling, which honestly the iPhone and the previous earbuds have always been class leading for what they are in that regard. If you own a previous iPhone they’ll work fine with them, so if you’re previous generation iPhone is still working like a champ, I will suggest, if you’re sick of the previous earbuds and want something a class or two better, just upgrade the Apple earbuds. $30 is a bit of scratch but cheaper than some replacements, believe me, I’ve tried.