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5 Things You Must Know Before You Buy an iPhone 5

/ Oct 4th, 2012 2 Comments

iPhone 5

iPhone 5

iPhone 5

If you are a prospective iPhone 5 owner and you’re still on the fence, you’ve probably heard all the great things about the device. If you’re looking for a hands-on report from a user, then you’re in the right place. If you have a service provider (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint) with a 2 year contract, you are eligible to “upgrade” your old phone for a new phone as long as you take a new 2 year contract. I had an iPhone 3G and my “upgrade” triggered in August so I waited for the new iPhone 5. I received two iPhone 5s on September 25th, so here are the five things I wished I knew before I upgraded. If you are planning to buy an iPhone, you need to read this report.

#1 – Battery Life

It doesn’t matter why the iPhone 5 battery life is shorter – it is shorter! The 3G would take an overnight charge and operate fine until recharged every night at 10pm. The 3G would, with 5-10 phone calls and 10-20 text messages each day, still have a 25-40% charge at the end of the day. The iPhone 5 has the exact same environment, with the same usage – but it will be <15% each evening. Yes, it makes it through the day – but what about longer phone calls and heavier usage? Fact: the iPhone 5 requires more charging and likely “intermediate” charging during the day to achieve the same performance as the iPhone 3G. For those of you with wives, you will begin to be “nagged” about it after approximately 4 days (“What’s wrong with this damn phone you bought me”). While previous incarnations of the iPhone have performed better, our hands-on experience says otherwise for now.

#2 – Lightning Connector Adapter

As we noted in an earlier Gaming Illustrated article, Apple changed the iPhone docking connector. We opined earlier that this was a significant error by Apple management and engineers – just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Currently, there are none of the $29 “adapters” available (at least not until mid-October), and even once they become available: the stability of an iPhone 5 plugged into a docking connector plugged into an iHome $200 clock-radio is very poor.

It is likely the iHome connector will become damaged due to the structural flexibility in the dual connections and higher “center of gravity”, shortening the life of those units. Sure, all the other iPhone units will work fine and there’s no need to throw them out if you don’t upgrade, but you’ll need to realize if you buy an iPhone in the future, that’s not going to be the case.

#3 – Charging Cables

Rather than await the more expensive $29 “Lightning Adapter” to use on the 3 additional chargers I have around (one at the office and one in the car and one for the MAC – I used the charger the iPhone 5 came with on the nightstand), I purchased three $19 “Lightning to USB Cables” from the Apple Store. The Lightning to USB cables can replace the old style connector to USB in the chargers (and in some car chargers if it uses a USB – fortunately, mine did).

You might not think to swap the cables, but rather than buy new charger assemblies, this can save you a few dollars. I have not located a Lightning Car Charger yet – but we anticipate that they will become available in a few months. Unavailability of initial car chargers and adapters, was a major error in APPLE’s release planning. While important to keep things “under wraps”, interfaces such as connectors and car chargers should have been widely communicated to sub-suppliers.

#4 – Huge Screen

The first day I got the iPhone 5 I marveled at the larger screen and how it was really nice. The second day I couldn’t remember how big the iPhone 3G screen was compared to the iPhone 5 screen without holding them up together. The difference in screen size is not a reason to buy the iPhone 5 – you become acclimated to the screen size you have and it quickly becomes “normal”. This is an interesting example of cognitive dissonance.

#5 – Apps

I won’t go into the Apple Maps fiasco discussion, only to mention that it exists – and that Apple management released a formal apology to its customers. Naturally, with the iOS 6 concurrent release as iPhone 5, most Apps need updating. But you would have done that anyway.

Last Thoughts

As I was picking up my iPhone 5 from the AT&T store on September 25, a customer was beside me picking up his new iPhone 4S. The AT&T sales person smiled at him and noted that her customer (me) was getting the new iPhone 5! The guy simply smiled, and said “yes, but the prices dropped so much on the iPhone 4S once they released the iPhone 5 that the 4S is almost free, and everything I have works with the 4S”. I think he read our articles…

Over the past week, I have thought of that guy a lot… SIRI was the major upgrade since 3G, and I could have gotten SIRI with a 4S as it was highly innovative and a surefire selling point. It’s not exclusive to the new iPhone, as Siri is a product of iOS and is cloud based. All things considered, I’m not sure but that Siri wasn’t smarter than me… at least her significant other isn’t complaining about battery life.

Greg Gibson

Greg Gibson

Lead Reviewer / Editorial Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg Gibson’s resume spans over 40 years in the world of nuclear engineering and technology, having received a Masters Degree in e-commerce in 1998. Our resident MMORPG expert, Greg’s ability to understand the dynamics of MMOs is unparalleled.
Greg Gibson

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2 responses to “5 Things You Must Know Before You Buy an iPhone 5”

  1. Cassandra says:

    Thank you for this article! I hope that apple goes back to the old chargers! I am still not sure which phone I will get, but the 4s is sounding pretty good….

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