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 editingâ”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. 

About The Author

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for Photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books.

80 Comments

  1. Scott, do you use a case on your iPhone 5 or do you plan to?

  2. Are you sure you don’t want to hear about my android or how much I hate Apple? Just kidding! ;) I have to wait until they come out with an iPhone 6 to get my husband’s old iPhone 5. LOL!

  3. Scott, I just got my iPhone 5 Friday and it totally rocks, like you note. The pano camera feature is very cool. Used it this weekend in MetLife Stadium (i.e., Giants Stadium–sorry Jets fans!) and tools some panos before the Springsteen concert. I can’t wait to try the HDR feature and see how that works. Have you tried it yet? Curious to know what you think. The speed is definitely sizzling fast. One other question: did Kalebra get one too, or is she going to steal yours to shoots photos?

    • The HDR feature works great when there’s a large gap between the bright and dark areas in the photo. Sometimes it saves the photo, and other times you’ll turn it on and you won’t even be able to see a difference — it just depends on scene you’re shooting. Also, of course Kalebra did get one, but her came in after mine because she sends hers to a company in Germany that hot rods the camera so it shoots more like a Nikon D700. You know I’m kidding, right? Gotcha! She’s got hers as she’s “Super Digging It!”

  4. Scott, I just got an Element Case (Black Opps) but I couldn’t stand it, I ordered one even though I wasn’t available for upgrade. I think it’s time for a 12 step technology program. :)

  5. I love when people start the brand wars. Do you use Mazola Oil? So why not Wesson? =)) Same goes with phones, cameras, cars, anything. It’s my queue to go buhbye. Buy whatever makes you happy ! Thanks for the review, Scott ! My contract expires in November, so my iPhone 5 will come in a couple months. And maybe an iPad Mini… hmmm .

  6. I couldn’t believe how fast and light it is either. I upgraded from a 3GS, so as you can imagine, I’m pretty amazed.

  7. Scott, I read your post on Facebook couple of days ago about the movie ratings between movie-critics and public. I thought it was just spot on and you nailed it right to the point. Innovative features are hard to come by once you establish a baseline of expectations. What people forget is that iOS user experience changed the whole phone industry. iPhone is a great phone and majority of people that hate it, hasn’t used one fully. They just hate it by looking at the specs.

  8. Hey Scott, thanks for your iPhone update. Did you happen to try the new D600 yet? Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

  9. This is about the nicest cogently written post on the new iPhone. Nicest because it in no way disses anybody or anything who may feel different. Cogent because it makes me want to get one too.

  10. Scott, would love your comments on the camera of the iPhone 5 and the new panorama feature in iOS6.

  11. Quick question for you as a photographer, how would compare the camera of the 4s to the 5? Also as a photographer will you be doing a preview of the Lumia 920? Feel free to delete the second question but I feel it’s relevant as many buy the iPhone as a secondary camera.

    • There are only two new camera features: (1) The camera is 40% better in shooting in low light (so I can assume, maybe less noise), and (2) it has a built-in panorama feature that is brilliantly done. I have another Pano Apps but to me, this one beats them all hands down. I only use my iPhone as my secondary camera, so no Lumia preview coming from me. Sorry ’bout that.

      • The pano feature is actually a part of IOS6 and works on the 4s as well. It’s pretty amazing.

      • Have you noticed a problem with purple haze with iPhone 5 pictures. I have been reading a lot of people have had issues. Apple acknowledged it by saying you need to hold the camera at a different angle. I am trying to decide between 4S and 5 and want to know if this is a major issue.

  12. I was eligible for upgrade but was planning to wait for the big rush to pass. My iPhone 4 was starting to show its age, particularly its home button. Then I decided I couldn’t stand it and went to the AT&T store to order one on Saturday morning. I got lucky because as I was standing there, FedEx brought 20 more phones into the store and I walked out with one. My reactions are almost identical to yours. I’m amazed how much lighter it is and I’m blown away by the speed!

  13. Cool! I’m looking forward to upgrading! Thanks for the review.

  14. Shoot, wish I’da known you were in Music City for the game–it would have been worth a ticket just to watch you do your stuff! Pretty wacky game, huh?

  15. Thanks for the review but on to more important things what about that game! They gave you plenty of opportunities for great shots! Looking forward to your photos of the game. Go Titans!

  16. Thanks for the review. Mine’s supposed to be here Tuesday, replacing my 4S. Like my iPads, iPhones, and Macbooks, I also bought this one ‘sight unseen,’ based upon specs alone. Your review tells me I made the right decision (again) :)…

    And that map thing – I use Navigon for navigation and Hopstop for public transit anyhow, so I don’t think the inaccuracies/omissions in the maps will be a huge issue for me; besides, just like the YouTube app, I’m pretty sure Google will bring their own map app to the iPhone; maybe even with spoken directions – not that I really need a map app.

    The big one for me is the 4G support – ‘the need for speed’ :)

    Thanks for a non-hysterical review! A welcome change from the Schadenfeude on G+ (#Apple, #Maps, #iOS)

  17. Great review of the iPhone 5. I also received mine on Friday, and am having the same good experience with it. What I really appreciate is that you are stopping the silly iPhone vs Android arguments before they start. Android vs IPhone is as emotional as Nikon vs Canon or Chocolate vs Vanilla, One size does not fit all, why care about what the other person chooses, just care about what you choose and be happy and secure with your choice.

  18. Great post, Scott! I’m amazed by the speed of the iPhone 5 and the new size and weight really do make a difference. Looking forward to seeing some of your panos!

  19. You didn’t answer the most important question. Did Kalebra upgrade? There is more room in it to hide that D4 they stuffed in her 4G.

  20. Scott, look into putting a Zagg shield on it if you don’t want to put it into a case. They’re just as good as a case and don’t really add any bulk. I would suggest going to a kiosk at your local mall and have them install it since they ARE a pain to put on.

    I’ve been putting Zagg’s on all my electronics since the iPod 2nd Gen and I love them. I have a Zagg shield installed on the LCD on the back of my Canon DSLR even.

  21. Okay, so did you mention football at the end to redeem your manly image for mentioning “salon” and “hairdresser” earlier? I keed, I keed! lol ;-)

  22. well said Scott. No one should try to defend their smart phones against iPhone. eventually they all make the job. That is personal choice as you said, simply let’s say we love iPhone because it feels better in hand…

  23. Hey Scott great review! I held one at Best Buy last week and I was instantly amazed but like you I was going to buy it without seeing it, I’ve got 20 days left before upgrade time my question is a carrier question are you with AT&T or Verizon I’m toying with switching to Verizon I was told AT&T was the only carrier that lets you talk and browse at the same time any truth to that?

    • I switched to Verizon because I realized I that I drop calls more often than I talk on the phone and search the Web. In fact, I haven’t needed to once since I got the iPhone 5.

      • Hey Scott, Are you grandfathered in with the old plan of unlimited data, but bought the phone full price or did you switch to the family shared plan and got the phone at a discount? This is the dilemma I face. Also which size and color did you get? The black looks sweet!

  24. So when can we expect to see your updated iPhone 5 book? I love your tips, always helpful.

  25. Could you comment on the signal strength? I have a terrible time getting a signal with AT&T but wonder if it’s the android phone I use.

  26. Great commentary, Scott. You do such a great job whether it’s a Q&A like this or explaining Lightroom or anything I’ve read of yours. I’m really glad that you are the “spokesperson” for the things I love – photography (especially shooting football), Adobe, Nikon, and yes, the iPhone. Keep up the excellent work!

  27. Thanks for the write-up, Scott. I’ve been waiting to see some reviews of what people think of the new iphone. Although I knew hubby and I would probably be upgrading our phones regardless, since I’ve got a 3GS and he’s got a 3G (that he complains about constantly and how slow it is!).

  28. Ditto to it all. I absolutely love mine and am taking it with me on my move to Hawaii! It will be a challenge to keep all the sand out of it as I too don’t want to cover it.

  29. “Salon”? “Hairdresser”? Gee, I still go to a “barber” and get a plain ole “haircut”. Maybe if I had hair…….

  30. You don’t have your hair done at your home ? well, I never… ;)

  31. Thanks for your thoughts Scott. I often shake my fists at The Grid. Matt first introduced the Element case to me. Now i have to have that case !!

  32. Thanks for the comments; very useful in deciding what to do when my
    contract for my 4 expires in Dec. I’m hoping Apple will figure out how
    to fix the Maps app by then (it is a huge mess). Some genius (seriously)
    posted this side-by-side comparison of certain views of Apple maps vs.
    Google Maps and he or she made pithy comments on each example. I laughed
    harder and harder until I was just in tears as I scrolled through the
    examples:
    http://theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/
    Enjoy!

  33. Most critical, what about the photo and video quality Scott?

  34. Thanks for the info, Me and my Wife have been thinking about getting a Iphone 5 ( we have never had any of them and just have older Verizon phones) What kinds of apps do you use and think are cool? Is there very many of them you actually use?

  35. I’ve been an apple Iphone user now for just over 3 years. My first one was the 3S and it was a great phone itself. Now that I’ve upgraded to the iphone5, I’m very, VERY impressed. Like the author of this article mentioned, it is just so slim and light and it feels GREAT in the hand. In fact, I’m always just moving it around in my hand because it just feels so neat. The materials used; the gorilla glass and the aircraft aluminum make it feel extremely solid. Besides the aesthetics, the phone performs very fast, it’s got superb resolution and brightness and the actual quality of the phone calls (it is a phone afterall), is amazing! Battery life is improved and no matter what others say, it’s better than it’s predecessors. Sound is louder and bassier when playing videos or music The one problem I do have with it is the new map application. But I’m sure in time it will be fixed and/or improved. Anyone who is questioning this phone’s beauty and power only needs to buy one themself. It truly delivers and exceeds expectations.

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  38. Scott I received my iPhone 5 shortly after they were available to the general public. My sister has an iPhone 4S and we can search the web at the same time for the same thing (we ran a test) and her 4 is faster than my 5. From the first day my phone was delivered I felt it was not up to par and went to Verizon for numerous issue. Some of my contacts can not receive my texts nor me theirs. Do you have any ideas as to something I am doing on my phone to have this happen? I do love the phone but would like for these issues to stop occurring. Oh and I can email the contacts but not text them. Weird huh???

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