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6 months with the iPhone 5: expectations vs reality

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It seems like it was just six months ago I was waiting in line to buy an iPhone 5.(s AAPL) 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,(s FB) Notes, and Evernote feel more comfortable with the taller screen. The Kindle(s AMZN) 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(s GOOG) 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(s T) 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.

38 Responses to “6 months with the iPhone 5: expectations vs reality”

  1. Ok. Here it goes.

    I used Android for more than an year and the OS was awesome. The culprit was the device- the samcrap galaxy SL. I loaded a ton of apps ( not exactly, but just saying), which I used to manage my daily needs. But finally the device starts keep restarting( of-course, with a 512 RAm and 1 gb processr) and \i hated it. And now, Iam an iphone user.

    Android: If you like customization, swipe key board( you’ll love it), easy sharing with whichever apps you have, ( from twitter,fb, gmail, bluetooth…to pocket, dropbox,evernote…the options are endless), easy capture of music ( as easy as, using hdtransform to make qr codes of whichever youtube video you like, and use your phone QR reader to download the mp3 straight to your phone)…..and a lot more…, stick to Android.

    IOS : If you like simplicity and the premium status of having an iphone, better web experience( safari is real good) , a bit more quality apps( actually I thought all app store apps are gold std., but they are not), lets go for iphone.

    In frank, I got into the apple ecosystem, only b’coz of the premium feel, which i didnt get much with my Android ones. Nothing else. Just for kinda vanity!!!!!But I love it though now.
    And apart from SIRI, and a better hardware, i don’t find anything else, that i didn’t have in my android.

  2. I went from 3GS to a 5. I waited it out 3 years. The iphone5 is a good phone and meets basically all of my needs. Maybe a little bigger screen would be nice, but not too big. I like my phone to be relatively compact.

    I will say the best thing was that I sold my old 3Gs on Ebay for $125 after paying $199 and 3 years of use. And I grabbed the iphone5 for $149 around xmas at Best Buy. Basically it was a winner all around on that one.

    Lastly I am like most people and I don’t want to code or program my phone. I just want it to work.


    @John Kiser

    I’m not using the wrong ROM it is a known issue.
    You do lose data. It’s that simple. Although I have to root to use Titanium it’s still worth it. I’ve accepted that some apps can’t be backed up cleanly because the platform is flawed. I accept that I won’t get that data back. I have resigned to running Clockworkmod to do a nandroid backup so when Titanium craps out I can still go back to something. The point I’m trying to make is the average consumer isn’t going to want to invest as much time as I have to make their device work.

    Some people can live with 95% restored. If that’s acceptable to you then hey JellyBean is right up your alley.

    There is a lot to be said by the Apple “it just works” phrase.

  4. Ted Lloyd

    I agree with you about screen size. Although I have had many iPhones and would like to stay with them, if Apple doesn’t bring out a much larger screen (say in the 5 inch range) I will be regretfully be going with another operating system.

  5. I have had every one from a 3GS up to the iPhone 5. If I had to pick one thing to fix (outside of battery life) it would be that when a text message fails to send that it auomatically tries again until it does. Every other phone I have ever had does this, even email on the iPhone does this so why not text messages. SMS should be fire and forget not check to see if it went………….

  6. its quite good that you use siri everyday , i know many just used it for the first few weeks and then leave it , because sometime she can’t understand , maybe because of the different in accent and pronunciation .

    and i agree with you about the new row in the screen

    ty for the post :)

  7. Good clear review. I agree the camera is not up to snuff and even with the larger screen, I still prefer my Android for what I do with a device I carry around in my pocket.


    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.

  9. Nobody has mentioned battery life! I do not know how much you use your iPhone (or maybe it’s me!) but a serious user can’t work a full day without recharging.

    3GS was not that bad, iPhone 4 was good. This is the reason why I may not by another iPhone next time.


      You think the iPhone 5 sucks on battery life try an android device! Just turn LTE off on your iPhone. It’s better than using juice defender on an android device. Technically it’s not the device it’s the cellular radio. LTE is just a battery drain.

  10. Jerome C

    Good piece. I use a 4S as my 1st iPhone. In the two year Verizon contract cycle and looking at what’s coming (5S etc.) In the interim also I bought a Nexus 4 to try (with a pay-as-you go no contract T-Mob). The hardware seemed well made and the no-contract system functioned well. Unfortunately, T-Mob has spotty coverage when I live/work (Central Coast Ca.). I re-sold the Nexus as I found that it & Android offered nothing ‘superior’ to the OS6 agenda.

    The big issue, that should be the focus of all cellphone users (all of us?), is the crappy cellular provider services that squeeze the customers and lobby our ‘law makers’ with the cash they connived.

  11. I’ve just tried out the new xperia Z (android) for a week.
    Honestly, ios might be ‘boring’, but the grass definitely isn’t always greener.

    For a start, 5″ isn’t a phone anymore, it’s a tablet you sheepishly hold up to your head occasionally.

    Android was still an amateur, disorganised mess (sorry, but it was – it felt as though it had been put together by people that never talked to each other), and the google play store was atrocious, but 4.1 was admittedly better than in previous generations.

    So after trying the xperia, my thoughts on what I’d like from an iphone 6:

    *slightly* larger screen – perhaps 4.3 or 4.5″
    Better program interoperability (ie the evernote example was a good one)
    Perhaps live at a glance ‘widgets’ ?
    Wireless charging

    That’s it really – the only other ‘big feature’ they might add is NFC – which frankly is a waste of space anyway (come up with one practical example where NFC is faster than doing the same process another way…).


      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.

      • John Kiser

        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.

  12. Alexander

    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?


  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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)

  16. 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.

  17. Mostly Nerd

    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…

  18. George

    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.

    • Lex Luthor

      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 ( and whoever buys “em ( losers) has 2.5” ding dongs so they over compensates with freaks of technology such as galaxy S3 and Note 2…preiod.

      • 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 :-)

      • 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.

      • 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.


      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.