The move to 4 inches feels right for the iPhone, though it looks like a dwarf side-by-side with the 4.8-inch display on the Samsung Galaxy S III, arguably the best of the Android breed. I was able to display more than four extra paragraphs reading the same newspaper article on the Samsung as opposed to the iPhone 5. On the other hand, the iPhone screen appears sharper and brighter, and the phone is easier to carry.
Samsung is countering with its own ad campaign: "The Next Big Thing Is Already Here." But Samsung's Big Thing is taller, wider and more than 0.7-ounces heavier than iPhone 5, though only a whisker thicker.
IPhone 5 devotees will appreciate the extra row of home screen icons made possible by the 4-inch display, although you are still limited to 11 of those screens. The larger screen on iPhone lets you display five days of calendar entries when the phone is held sideways compared with three on the older models. And you can watch widescreen high-def movies without "letterboxing" (the black bars that frame the movie).
Apple says there are more than 700,000 apps to choose from in Apple's App Store. But Android is narrowing the gap; Google claims more than 600,000 apps in its Google Play store.
Testing Maps, Passbook
Not every move Apple has made will please consumers. You're already hearing a drumbeat of complaints from the people who've spent a bundle on chargers, car kits and other accessories that won't fit into the newly designed proprietary Lightning connector on the bottom of the phone, at least without a $29 adapter that's compatible with the 30-pin connector that's been in use for about a decade. The new connector is 80% smaller and reversible; that is, you can't plug it in the wrong way. Apple says it's more durable, too. But you can't blame folks for making a fuss, given the hassle and added expense some will face. Of course, most of these same people will probably buy the darn phone anyway and do so, I suspect, with glee.
Put me in that camp. I've been testing iPhone 5 for a week and want one, too. On the back of the device is the same anodized aluminum that Apple uses in its notebooks. My black-and-slate test unit has pigmented glass along the top and bottom. Apple is also selling a white-and-silver version that uses ceramic glass instead. The surface is made of sapphire crystal whose sturdiness, Apple says, is second only to diamonds. Suffice to say Apple's designers treated iPhone 5 like a crown jewel.
My test device runs AT&T's flavor of LTE, the only U.S. model that lets you talk and surf at the same time. Verizon, though, has the much broader LTE network, by a long shot. The chief selling point for Sprint, an LTE newbie whose network coverage lags behind the other carriers, is that it offers unlimited-data pricing plans.