iPhone 5 Upgrade Observations

Yesterday I got a FedEx delivery which contained my new 16Gb black AT&T iPhone 5. We were 18 months into our contract and didn’t plan to leave AT&T, so figured we should upgrade while the iPhone 4 still has value on the used market. In fact I think I’m going to be able to sell them for a price that’ll make our new phones essentially free. Free upgrade, can’t beat that.

This is not going to be a long post since the upgrade from the 4 to the 5 is not a monumental one in most respects. Yes the screen is taller and has better color reproduction, though I never found much fault with the old screen until I saw the new one. Isn’t that always the way with technology? Of course everything loads and runs much faster, which makes sense as it’s got a lot more RAM and a 2 generations faster processor. The speed also makes opening the camera and taking pictures MUCH faster than the 2 year old phone. It's almost as fast as a dedicated point and shoot.

As far as physical characteristics, it’s crazy thin and really light; almost to a fault in my opinion. It's hard to handle sometimes, or rather it never feels like I’ve got a good grip on the thing. I have yet to decide on a case, I dislike big chunky ones like the Speck that my partner uses,so I’ll probably end up with an Incase Snap Case like on my old phone. It is a  great option for minimalists like myself except for the factthat it has slowly broken and crumbled away over the year that I’ve had it. One crack and chip at a time. I had iOS 6 on my old phone so there’s little new there. I still think iOS is feeling a bit long in the tooth; it’s so 2007 when it comes down to it. Overall the phone really isn’t a great departure, it’s just a new iPhone.

The one thing that is revelatory is LTE. I don’t know about other places in the country, but 3G service on AT&T in NYC and SF  is almost useless. There are just too many people trying to use too few towers that are overloaded beyond capacity. If I turn off LTE at my house in Brooklyn, I get numbers like 0.26 Mbps Down and 0.03 Mbps Up, and that’s on AT&T’s HSPA+ supposed “4G” service. What this means to those of you who aren’t giant nerds like me is that I can barely check my email in most places in NYC. The subway line I ride comes above ground for a couple stops before going under again in the middle of my journey back from town. I had given up on even trying to check my email during the 4 minutes or so when I had a signal. It’s that bad. So simple stuff like looking up an email or finding my way to a clients using maps became lessons in frustration.

Well, LTE actually fixes that. Remember that with 3G I was getting 0.26/0.03, on LTE in the same spot I get 16.59/15.19. My call phone’s data connection is now substantially faster than my Time-Warner cable modem at home, especially with uploads. So I could read the news and check my email while I was eating some eggs at the diner in my neighborhood  this morning. It was amazing. They’ve finally delivered on the promise that all these companies have been selling me for the last 10 years or so. Let’s just hope the new system doesn’t get saturated too.

To wrap up. New iPhone 5 is fast, light, and thin. Almost too thin and light. Nothing very much new to see here except LTE which is currently rocking my world.