Tech Toy of the Month: iPhone 5

The iPhone 5In case you’ve been living under a rock, Apple released the iPhone 5 on September 21st. As with any iPhone release, there is a lot of excitement and hype surrounding the latest release from Apple. To this point, the iPhone 5 is smashing sales records. So is the iPhone 5 right for you?

The iPhone 5 has several minor and a few major changes from the previous model, the iPhone 4S:

  • Overall, almost everything in the new iPhone is faster than the previous generation iPhones. If you have a iPhone 4 or older phone, you will immediately notice the difference. iPhone 4S users will not notice as big of a change, but it will feel snappier overall.
  • There are incremental improvements to the cameras and battery life. Apple has also included their new “EarPod” headphones, which are much more comfortable than previous Apple headphones.
  • The iPhone 5 is a full ounce lighter than the iPhone 4s. This may not seem like a lot, but it is definitely noticeable. When you first pick up an iPhone 5, you may think you’ve picked up a cardboard mock-up!
  • The iPhone 5 is the first iPhone to include 4G LTE data networking. LTE is the fastest 4G cellular networking available on the market, and in areas that have 4G LTE availability, it can make a big difference in data speeds for your phone. But note that not all areas have extensive 4G LTE and it varies from carrier to carrier. This is true with all phones from any manufacturer, but I thought it was worth mentioning here.
  • The most noticeable difference with the iPhone 5 is the larger screen. Instead of just making a larger screen overall, Apple chose to keep the same width while increasing the height. Apple claims that by keeping the width the same, they keep the phone manageable in the hand.
  • There are also many improvements in the iPhone 5 that are attributable to the new iOS 6 operating system. However, many of those improvements are also available to prior iPhones. In fact, virtually every new feature that iOS 6 brings to the iPhone 5 is available to the iPhone 4S. However, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, while capable of upgrading to iOS 6, do not get all the new features.

So what is the bottom line? Should you purchase an iPhone 5?

  • If you own an iPhone and have an upgrade available to you, the iPhone 5 is definitely a worthwhile upgrade.
  • If you own an iPhone 4S the answer comes down to cost, as most iPhone 4S owners do not have an upgrade available. If having LTE speeds is very important to you and/or the increased screen size really interests you, then you must decide if the full price of an iPhone is worth it. The good news is that you may be able to sell your iPhone 4S for a price that will help pay much of the cost of a new iPhone 5.
  • BlackBerry owners who have been holding on should definitely switch to an iPhone now. The BlackBerry platform is all but dead. It’s time to let go and move on.
  • Owners of Android or Windows phones who are not satisfied and looking to upgrade to an iPhone have no reason to wait any longer. The iPhone 5 compares favorably against any current Android or Windows phone, and with the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming Windows 8 phones, it  would be wise to let that platform prove itself before committing.