There have been more than enough reviews written about Apple's newest phone, but since I've done this for almost all of the past launches that I've been a part of, I figured I would jot down a few thoughts on the new phone.
Overall it's a fantastic upgrade. This will be my fifth consecutive year with an iPhone, so I may not have the broadest of views on the matter. The phone has received more negative press than positive in the week since it's release. As far as I can tell this is a bigger deal for people outside of a major US city.
- I switched from AT&T to Verizon this time around. I can write about why another time, but the overall transition was seamless. When preordering my phone through the Apple Store, I gave them my AT&T account number and Verizon did the rest. When I turned on the phone, they began the transfer of my number automatically and it was ready within 20 minutes.
- The phone itself feels much thinner and lighter. I know that's no surprised, but it's something you notice right away after using an iPhone 4 for two years. Some reviews mentioned that it almost felt cheap at first, but I didn't get that impressions.
- Verizon LTE in my area is fast. Not 40 Mbs fast that some are seeing, but noticeably faster than 3G. In my tests around Houston, I consistently get 10 Mbs and I've seen up to 17 Mbs. But with all this speed comes the data usage; my 4 GB package is already half way used up. I haven't abused the streaming, I guess I'm just using the device more. Luckily this first month is only 15 days because I switched to Verizon. Hopefully I can learn to take it a little easier next month, or I might be getting a bigger plan.
- I am really loving the camera on the iPhone 5. I'm not saying it's 100% on par with my Canon S90, but it's pretty damn close. Low light pictures are usable and have a lot less motion blur than before, although there is some noise present. Panoramic shots are a blast to take as well (see above).
- The screen is nice. It's not jaw dropping nice but it's much better than the old one. The idea that only a quater inch can make a device so much more usable makes me wish they would have done this years ago. Compared to the other player in the market, it's still on the small end. It's very apparent now, when using apps in "letterbox" mode that have yet to be updated, much is lost in a smaller screen.
- Last but not least, the maps. These have not been a real problem for me. POI (points of interest) accuracy has been spot on here in Houston. It's funny that many of the Oil and Gas companies office buildings show up as gas stations though. I tried fixing the category for some of them, but "Corporate Offices" or anything similare was not an option. I'm surprised Apple chose Yelp to partner with on this. Foursquare's dataset, in my experience, is much more robust. Having people check in at locations makes for more POI's that are more accurate overall. I had one instance were I was looking for my dentist and it couldn't find him. I ended up opening Safari and using Google. I'm confident that these will get better with time. I think Apple realizes how important maps are to their platform and the future of iOS. That doesn't mean I'm not crossing my fingers for a stand alone Google Maps app.
All in all I'm happy with the phone. This whole experience last week is chipping away at my overall confidence in Apple though. They have a great product with an incredibly loyal fan base that has been made a fool by corporate strategy. I hope this next year keeps Apple out of the court room and nose to code, righting this ship before it gets too bad. If they keep this up, I'm not sure I can spend any more money in their eco system until they can prove it's not being taken for granted.
Update (Oct 1): It looks like there was a problem with WiFi and Verizon LTE. They fixed it last night and credited my account 1.5 GB.