I’ve owned every iPhone model to date. Here’s my experience going from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5, including what I’ve liked, what has not met my expectations and what I’d like to see in a new version.

iPhone 5 product shot

It seems like it was just six months ago I was waiting in line to buy an iPhone 5. I thought I’d share what my expectations were in September when I bought it, and how the device, and iOS 6, fared against them. Overall, I remain happy with the iPhone 5 and iOS. Naturally, there are some things that bug me as well as impress me. I’ve owned every iPhone model to date, but in this case I’m talking about my experiences going from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5.


Expectation: This is an iOS 6 issue, but I expected to use Siri on a near-daily basis.

Reality: I use Siri on a near-daily basis. With iOS 6 she got better, and I frequently have a desire to send and receive texts while operating a motor vehicle. Looking at the phone and typing while doing this, I’ve heard, is frowned upon. So I use Siri instead. For the most part, she does a decent job. I’ve learned the hard way to keep my messages short. I don’t really use Siri to create Reminders, move calendar events, and the like. I do, however, use her to check on when the Red Sox are playing and what the score is.

What I’d like to see improved: I don’t like her all-or-nothing option to change a text message. I’d love to be able to tell her to replace a word. Often, in a multi-sentence text she’ll get it correct, except for that one word that’s crucial to understanding the meaning of the message.


The camera

Expectation: I expected that the iPhone 5 would continue to replace my point-and-shoot camera.

Reality: Even with the purple haze problem, the iPhone 5 has indeed solved my needs for a point-and-shoot camera.

What I’d like to see improved: Maybe a little better image focus and stabilization. If I’m shooting a picture of a handheld object and my hands are slightly shaking, I’ve noticed the iPhone auto-focus is tad sensitive. I imagine the camera on the iPhone 5S (or whatever the next-generation iPhone is called) will be better in ways I won’t be able to detect, but I think the iPhone 5 camera is good as is.


The screen

Expectation: It would be really different than the iPhone 4S screen.

Reality: Well, it’s certainly taller.  The extra row of icons is helpful. With the previous screen size, I always had apps I use frequently sitting on the second screen. Now, all the apps I use often are one screen. Apps like Twitter, Facebook, Notes, and Evernote feel more comfortable with the taller screen. The Kindle and iBooks apps feel like I’m reading from a weird legal size paper. Other apps seem to think the extra real estate is perfect for showing me more ads — I’m looking at you, The Weather Channel.

I was hoping I would use Pages more, but it still doesn’t seem to adapt well to the large screen. In fairness, this complaint may be me moving the goal posts since even on my Nexus 7 I’m not doing any writing. Nor do I feel my life is really missing an iPad mini, either.

What I’d like to see improved: I agree with Andy Ihnatko’s take on the Samsung Galaxy S3 screen. I frequently keep my iPhone in a car mount where it sits right in that hard-to-see range for my old guy eyes. I want to see Apple release a larger screen. There are few things that tempt me towards Android phones, and the screen size is always the demon on my shoulder.


My workflow

Expectation: The iPhone would continue to be command central for my life.

Reality: It still remained command central, but my iPad usage for non-leisure activities increased. This isn’t an indictment against the iPhone per se, and it likely has more to do with buying an iPad with cellular connectivity this time around, along with a keyboard case. However, the majority of my communications, note-taking and task management functions have been on the iPhone 5. What was previously an 80-20 split is now about a 70-30 split. For long-form writing away from my Mac, the iPad will likely always win that battle.

What I’d like to see improved: A system-side sharing feature like there is in Android. I absolutely love that I can send links to Instapaper and Evernote in Android with one easy click, as long as the app is installed. No messy bookmarks to install.

Final thoughts

My only regret with the iPhone 5 is self-created: Instead of opting for a 64 GB phone, I bought the 32 GB and AppleCare+. I should have bought the 64 GB as I’m now struggling to find room for my music. I’m swapping out albums more than I’d like. I bought AppleCare+ because I expected for financial reasons that I’d skip the 2013 iPhone update and wanted the extra coverage — I was too far off my upgrade cycle for any discounts last year, so I’m going to wait until I don’t need to pay the off-contract price.

I’m impressed with the overall sturdiness of the iPhone 5. I don’t keep it in a case, and with the metal back I don’t feel like it’s going to shatter with a bad fall. I don’t seem to have as many weird cell reception issues as I had before. I work in a section of a building with notoriously bad cell coverage (about 1 bar), but outside of that, I don’t seem to have many “you’re holding it wrong” issues. The LTE speeds are nice, I just wish AT&T’s coverage net was wider. I get LTE at work, but not near home.

Overall, I’d say the iPhone 5 met my expectations. While I’d likely buy an iPhone with a larger screen, I do like that the iPhone 5 is the same width as previous iPhones; it’s not too bulky in my pockets.

Next time, though, I’m getting the largest storage option available. I guess size does matter after all.

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  1. Since you have always been an iohone user, nothing unexpected. Nothing extraordinary. nothing bad. Try using the S3 for 5 months, and give us a review then.

    1. Nothing extraordinary?!!! What a retard,the iPhone opened up a brave new world where cell phones are moving to the point of replacing computers.The idea of a complete touch based software aka iOS was innovative,retina display was innovative,Siri,iCloud,iTunes match is innovative.Samsung delivers slightly beefed up hardware specs with no real world values which only impress wannabes and a ravishly insecure semi “open-world” OS which comes nowhere near to a jailbroken iPhone.So any guy who manufactures 5″ phones (ahem..samsung) and whoever buys “em (ahem..android losers) has 2.5″ ding dongs so they over compensates with freaks of technology such as galaxy S3 and Note 2…preiod.

      1. So your ding dong is big and this is the reason why you have an iphone ? There is more S3/Note phones sold that iphones so I guess lot of people have a small ding dong… Honestly, this is probably the most stupid thing I’ve ever read on this blog… Hope your big ding dong componsate your small brain :-)

      2. Huh? I love my Android and I also own the iPhone 5. This was a fair review of its performance. I totally expected something extraordinary when I shelled out over $600 for it. Extraordinary it is not. It’s not bad but it’s certainly not extraordinary.

      3. Lol , funny but yeah I would never go back to android as I used it for a year and their applications ain’t reliable at all, the retina display and speed of the iPhone 5 is unbeatable. I’m not too much into widgets like androids just want a simple nice clean clear icons of the iPhone. The only down side is when I browse web zooming is a bit of a problem because I can’t see the rest of texts. It does not have auto fit / wrapping texts.

    2. And buy a 32GB SD card to pop into S3 for about $20, you no longer need to swap album so painfully.

    3. Yeah and you know what he’d report. An extremely flawed backup system. The best backup system for android is titanium that you have to root your phone and then it is still hit or miss whether you can do a full restore. Oh and he’d run into problems going fro 4.2.1 to 4.2.2 because the image name won’t match. Yes iPhone just works and you have to jailbreak to be more hands on, but with android you have to be completely hands on because it doesn’t work otherwise.
      Android let’s you be more control because stuff that should just run on auto pilot doesn’t. Mark you should definitely switch it up so you too can report first hand how bad android sucks in comparison of iOS.

  2. No surprise that you got what you expected. I do think that your expectations were not very high. The iPhone delivers what it promises. It would have been good to see more usable features than the ones that everyone knew about…

  3. I would like a universal iphone capable of being used on all USA carriers and the common services when traveling. Secondly, I’d like to the gps to function even when there is no phone service or 3g/4g.

    1. It does.

      Well, mine does.

  4. Regarding your music storage needs. Just get iTunes Match and you have all your music, playlists, etc. avail on your phone (and all your other devices)

  5. Pierre-Yves Giroux Saturday, March 9, 2013

    You will not need a 64GB if you subscribe to iTunes Match…

  6. gregoryventana Saturday, March 9, 2013

    Suggestion: Stop using your iPhone while driving, period. Even hands-free use and talking on a cell phone has been shown to be too distracting for safe driving.

    Nothing you are doing is so important that it cannot wait until you have stopped your vehicle.

    1. If you’re driving, then everything else you do is a distraction… Just stating the obvious

    2. AND stop tuning radios, talking to passengers, having kids in the back, checking your mirrors, changing cd’s….just like guns kill people and spoons make us fat.

  7. Here are my list wish for the iphone 6.

    Big screen: not like the note 2 maybe like galaxy s3 or sony z

    Better OS: Ok im not going to lie i like ios but its boring. i have jail breaked it and now its awsome but i dont want to pay for stuff.

    Wirless Charging: Im always on the road on the go i need the wirless charging.

    I need NFC passbook is just useless.

    better battery.

    thats what i need

  8. OK, so next you’ll recommend not talking to your spouse sitting next to you either, as that’s certainly (potentially even more) distracting as well?


  9. You should have bought the Galaxy Note II.

    1. A point upgrade should not take an act of God to accomplish without losing your data.
      Hence android is still junk. Yes android is gives you way more control and is way more hands on because you have to be. Not because you want to. I’ve got to be so hands on I have to edit image code names so roms will load properly just to go from 4.2.1 to 4.2.2. Yes that’s light years ahead of iOS. The Nexus line is the developers line for a reason. You need to be a coder to get it to actually work. Even Blackberry had dumped Java whats wrong with this picture.

      1. You wont typically lose any data going to different android versons or different phones short of maybe a few things in apps which if you install the android SDK onto your computer there are a SLEW of applications that will let you backup through. Also if you are running into that with ROM’s you are using the wrong roms entirely then… If you are consistantly flashing and putting different roms on your phone no duh you are going to lose some amount of data and considering you are already rooted if you are flashing roms there are tons of backup options available to you. I use go backup pro and unless you definitely need all your app progress saved (assuming it has local save content) there is no need to root the phone. I get all my texts, contacts, ringtone and everything else saved over to the cloud and can easily backup and restore any time i want.

  10. Michael Martin, PMP Saturday, March 9, 2013

    Should try the Nexus 4, could be what the iPhone 6 or 7 will finally catch up to.

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