Hi Gang: A lot of folks are already asking me how I like the new iPhone 5, so I thought I’d put a quick Q&A together on my initial thoughts after using it for a few days. If you’re not an iPhone user or not interested in the iPhone, just skip this post and head down to find out who won the Springs of Hope Guitar Raffle, no need whatsoever to comment on this story — just roll on with your day. For everybody else, here goes:

Q. So does it really feel lighter and thinner?
A. Actually, it feels much lighter and thinner than I ever thought it would, just based on the specs. In fact, that’s the first thing I did this weekend when somebody asked “Is that the new iPhone 5″? — I would hand it to them, and they all immediately remarked, “I can’t believe it’s so much lighter and thinner!”

Q. What about the screen? Does it really feel bigger?
A.  Sometimes. Not all the Apps have been updated to fill the larger screen yet, so sometimes you don’t notice it at all (if the App is the old size, you get black bars at the top and bottom but because everything else surrounding it is black it’s not that apparent). However, once you launch an App that has been updated to the new size (which many already have), you immediately notice the size increase (it’s taller but not at all wider). Haven’t watched a movie yet, but now the aspect ratio is approximately the same as a 16:9 movie or HDTV size.

Q. How’s the speed?
A. Insane! This was the other thing that surprised me — this thing hauls butt!!!! In fact, on Saturday PC Magazine did a series of five different Benchmark speed tests and posted an article titled, “iPhone 5 Benchmarked: The fastest smartphone in the land,” where they said “Based on these benchmarks, the iPhone 5 lives up to the promise of being twice as fast as the iPhone 4S. It’s also, for now, the fastest handheld computer sold in the US.” That’s not me. That’s PC Magazine. Take it up with them (over on their site); I’m just trying to give interested readers some idea of how fast it feels to me, and apparently it’s pretty fast as similar tests are popping up all over the Web.

Q. Isn’t this just an incremental upgrade, though?
A. At this point in time, all updates to any smartphone are incremental just like updates to Photoshop are incremental. All the essential stuff is already there, so all any company can do at this point (including Adobe with Photoshop) is to add things to make what’s already there, better.

Q. So, are you saying it’s not that a big an upgrade?
A. The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a bigger screen, a better camera, it’s TWICE as fast (as I noted above, PC Magazine showed it is the fastest smartphone on the planet), it now has 4G LTE capabilities, faster wireless, better battery life, redesigned improved earbuds, enhanced audio, a smaller more durable connector, and a very cool built-in pano feature. I was sold at thinner and lighter, but add in the rest and it’s a no-brainer.

This is pretty much the same with any DSLR camera you buy today, whether it’s the new Canon 6D or the new Nikon D600, they’re not revolutionary — they’re just better than the cameras they replaced. They both are better versions of what we already had, and they’ll both be huge hits. They don’t have to re-invent DSLR photography every time they introduce a new camera, it just has to do things better than the one that they replace, which I’m sure they both do.

Q. Yeah, but didn’t some other smartphones already have some of that stuff?
A. And that should mean something to me because……?

Q. But you bought the iPhone 5 without actually trying it out, right?
A. When Nikon came out with the new Nikon D4 DSLR, I ordered it just on reading the specs online — I hadn’t held it, tried it out, or even laid eyes on it in person, but Nikon had gained my trust over the years. I have never bought a new Nikon that wasn’t better than the previous model. I feel the same way about Apple and the iPhone. Each one has been better than the last, and that’s all they need to be for me to upgrade (though I do feel the iPhone 5 upgrade was a much bigger upgrade then the iPhone 4s, but I was happy with my iPhone 4s. Well, until I actually held an iPhone 5. ;-)

Q. What about that new redesigned connector?
A. I like it a lot. I like not having to look at the connector itself to figure out which way it goes in. Life my wife said, “With the old connector no matter which side you tried first, it was always the wrong side. Haaaaa!” so I dig it. Plus, I didn’t have any accessories whose dock required me to buy an adapter to make it work, except for my car-charger, so I’ll be buying a new one of those.

Q. How about the Maps feature?
A. I haven’t used it, but supposedly it’s a mess, but I can only speak to the parts of the phone I’ve used so far. I have the TomTom and Navigon GPS navigation apps (both are fantastic) so all I used Google Maps for was looking up phone numbers, or finding a close carwash, stuff like that, but I did like the Google Maps a lot, so I’m looking forward to having that back (or Apple fixing their Map feature, whichever comes first).

Q. How’s it feel in your hand?
A. Perfect! The size and form factor is right on the money. Even better than the 4s, which surprised me.  It’s another thing that people have mentioned when I let them hold the phone — how great it felt in their hand. Plus, the fit and finish is really beautiful. So beautifully designed that I kind of hate to put a case over it, but I probably will just to protect it, but it’s a shame because it is beautiful (well, as beautiful as a phone can be, right?).

Q. So, overall what da ya think?
A. I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s a bigger upgrade than I was expecting (like I said, thinner and lighter alone were enough for me to upgrade), and much faster than I imagined. Every one that’s held it so far has said, “Oh man, I can’t wait to get mine” or “I wish I could get one,” and I think that says a lot.

Q. Any funny stories yet?
A. Just one. I went to the salon to get my haircut Saturday and I showed my hairdresser my iPhone 5, and the entire salon came rushing up to see it. While everybody was crowding around looking at it, a man walked in for his appointment.  He saw everyone crowding around me  and he came over, too. He said, “Is that the iPhone 5?” and I said “Yup. Just got it.” He said, “Is the screen really bigger?” I told him, “Yeah, it’s about 1/2 inch bigger, but it’s not really obvious until you put it next to an old iPhone.” Then he reaches in his suit pocket and pulls out a Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone and says, “It’s not as big as mine,” and I nodded and said “Yeah, that is bigger.” to which he announces loudly, “That’s what all the girls say.” The room went silent as all the women standing there (six or seven)  turned and looked at him with that “What an idiot” look. As he walked back up front to wait for his stylist, they all stood there for a moment and expanded on their initial sentiment. I wonder how his haircut came out. LOL!!

Q. Scott, if I have a different smartphone than the iPhone, should I post a comment telling you about it? 
A. Nah. I wrote this article for people who have asked me about how I feel about the new iPhone 5, so if you’re not interested in the iPhone 5, like I said at the beginning of this article, this is not for you. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to leave a comment listing their brand of smartphone, why they chose it, how much they hate Apple, why the iPhone 5 isn’t better than their phone, doesn’t have this feature or that feature, etc.

Everyone is free to choose the mobile phone that suits their needs, just like we’re allowed to choose the camera brand, or guitar brand, or lighting brand that suits our needs. You don’t have to defend your choice (or share your personal choice), and I shouldn’t have to defend mine. Of course, it’s different when it comes to image editing—everyone should use either Lightroom or Photoshop without a doubt, but that’s a different story. ;-)

Hope you all have a great Monday, and your best week so far this year! :-)

P.S. I shot the Titans/Lions NFL Football game yesterday up in Nashville, and if I got anything worth a darn, I’ll post it here tomorrow.