Apple iPhone 5 – hands on review

It's here. The wait is over. And we've got our hands all over it. iPhone 5, here we come...

Apple iPhone 5 – overview

After a year of wild rumours and unrelenting speculation, we've finally managed to wrap our hands around the iPhone 5 after its official unveiling. It's bigger, thinner, and has a few new tricks to boot. Let's have a look what Apple's been up to, shall we?

UPDATE: Read our in depth iPhone 5 review.

The iPhone 5 is once again crafted from aluminium and glass, although we much prefer the newer extended coverage of the anodised aluminium back which is less shatter-prone and feels lovely and smooth to the touch.

Apple iPhone 5 – design, build and new dock connector

The iPhone 5 is Apple's thinnest and lightest iPhone yet, and despite its increased length, its width has remained the same meaning it still fits comfortably in your hands. It's also deceptively light, and thanks to its rock solid construction, follows the tradition of Apple products which are a pleasure to hold.

The sleek 7.6mm body of the iPhone 5 is noticeably thinner than that of the iPhone 4S, a fact helped no doubt by the new smaller Lightning dock connector which visibly reduces the footprint of the old 30 pin iPhone dock. The headphones port's new position on the bottom is a welcome change, putting an end to screen-blocking cable syndrome.

The bigger 4in display on the new iPhone 5 looks just as sharp as its smaller 3.5in predecessor thanks to its Retina Display resolution. Apple promises 44 per cent better colour saturation, and although we didn't have much time to judge among a throng of rabid tech journalists, icons did seem to pop a little more. Or maybe that's the fatigue talking.

Either way, an extra row of homescreen icons is definitely something to cheer about, as is a full 7 day week calender view made possible by the extra real estate. An iPhone with a bigger screen has been a long time coming, and were glad it's here at last.

The 8MP camera of the iPhone 5 promises better low light shots thanks to a new dynamic low light mode and our initial impressions with it were positive enough, capturing the rabble of iJournalists beneath the soft lighting of the hands on studio.

Apple iPhone 5 – screen

The new panoramic mode is a welcome addition for keen shutterbugs and is simple enough to use. Just sweep across and let the iPhone 5's imaging innards take care of the rest.

iOS 6 doesn't look too different on the surface, but pull down the notification menu and the two 'Tap to Tweet' and 'Tap to Post' buttons will hit you instantly, allowing you to update your social networks with whatever whimsical news you desire. Speaking of which, the newer Siri will happily translate your musings into text. Just watch out for drunk Siri status updates.

4G has also hit the iPhone 5 (as we knew it would), unlocking super-fast download speeds for on-the-go interweb addicts. Lack of NFC support is still rather disappointing though, especially given the recent efforts of the Nokia Lumia 920.

Apple iPhone 5 – camera

The power of the iPhone 5's A6 processor was aptly demonstrated by the buttery smooth scrolling and zooming in the iOS 6's new Maps app. Flick on 3D view with the satellite layer enabled and you can pan around very impressive models of famous landmarks such as Big Ben. Just try not to enjoy it too much while driving. Safety first and all that.

The near-mythical iPhone 5 is myth no more. It has flaunted itself to the world, proudly showing off its larger screen, sleek thinner body and feather-weight construction, all of which are tied together by a faster processor and a feature-laden iOS 6. Still, there's no NFC support and 4S users might not be swayed enough to upgrade given that they'll be chowing down on iOS 6 too.

With the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X and upcoming Nokia Lumia 920, does Apple's latest iPhone have what it takes to reclaim its number one spot in our Top 10 Smartphone list? Stay tuned for a full Stuff review to find out.

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