The iPhone 5 is finally here as of Sept. 21, 2012. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one through Apple's new late-night online ordering system (between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., you can order for local in-store pick-up within 24 hours). And while the iPhone 5 did leave me with an awkward first impression, after a solid weekend with Apple's latest gadget I am absolutely hooked.
It's really light
The iPhone 5 is light, like really light — to the point where it feels like a toy. My initial reaction was uncertainty. It seemed too light, as if it was missing a battery. Current iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S users will notice a major difference. I held my iPhone 4 in my hand and the iPhone 5 in my other hand, and I instantly wished the iPhone 5 was just a little bit heavier. However, after about 10 minutes of holding and using the phone, the weight issue disappears and the true advantage of this feature comes to light.
I'm sure other mobile users can relate to the wrist cramp that happens when you are on a long conversation or holding your phone while watching a video, playing a game or surfing the web. Over the weekend, I noticed that using the phone had absolutely none of these usual drawbacks: The lightness of the iPhone 5 makes it seem like a part of my body. Yes, I know that's a bit of a creepy analogy, but seriously, we all are addicted to our phones anyway.
The screen size is perfect
This was a feature I was excited about and noticed it right away without any negative reactions. The screen size is much larger but not too much so: I could use my phone to enjoy games, Facebook and videos, and the iPhone 5 never feels cumbersome.
The larger screen size also made checking email, browsing call history and reviewing text message conversations much nicer. The is one of my favorite new features of the iPhone 5 and likely a major purchasing factor for me.
Durable but now scratch-prone
The design update rumor that the iPhone 5 is more durable than the glass-encased iPhone 4 and 4s is true. I'm fairly certain I can drop my phone without fear of the horrific and traumatizing cracked screen. However, such durability comes at a cost that many users are grumpily finding out as they use their new iPhone 5: The back will scratch very easily. The aluminum backing Apple uses seems prone to nicks from daily use like keeping your phone in the same pocket as your keys.
Some users find the black iPhone 5 scratches more easily than the white iPhone 5. My iPhone 5 is white and so far no scratches yet although I have taken great precautions to avoid clobbering my phone with anything that might damage the aluminum case. This is a very annoying and frustrating feature, one that Apple says it really doesn't care about fixing.
The LTE is a huge upgrade for me, and I certainly noticed a significant difference. Surfing the web or using Facebook outside of a Wi-Fi connection is painless. Prior to my iPhone 5 upgrade, I'd stare endlessly at a spinning wheel while Facebook or Twitter tried to update. Often I'd close the app out of frustration from waiting. This is not the experience I've had with iPhone 5. No matter where I am all the apps update with lightening-like speed.
the bottom line
The iPhone 5 is easy-to-use and, most importantly, engaging. It's a major upgrade for all, especially for iPhone 4 users. However, the iPhone 5 will look worn in a short amount of time.
More on the iPhone
How to make your own custom iPhone case
11 Things you didn't know about your iPhone
Just what can your iPhone do?