Apple's iPhone 5: The negatives
- 25 September, 2012 11:27
Apple's new iPhone 5 has just hit the market and we've had hands-on time with it for a few days. Here's five things we dislike about the iPhone 5 so far.
1. Scratches and scuffs
The iPhone 5's design is excellent but there's a significant problem that I discovered after only three days of use: the anodized aluminium used on the back and the edges of the iPhone 5 seems to be easily scratched and marked, particularly on the black model.
The blemishes are hard to see in photos, but my black review model iPhone 5 has two scratches on the back and a number of small chips on the edge of the right side, towards the back. This occurred in the first three days of use. During this time I have not dropped the iPhone and even had it in a protective case (a Cygnett Workmate, if you're wondering) for most of Saturday.
While both the scratches and the chips are small and not immediately noticeable, they are there. On a device that commands a significantly hefty outlay, wear and tear from only three days of careful use shouldn't be acceptable. Unlike some reports circling the Web over the weekend, my iPhone 5 did not have any visible marks or scuffs when it was brand new in the box.
2. Dock connector
As you probably know by now, Apple has changed the dock connector on the iPhone 5. Gone is the standard 30-pin connector that Apple has used in most models of its iPod, iPhone and iPad devices. Replacing this connector is a much smaller, 8-pin dock connector that Apple calls 'Lightning'.
Apple's official reasoning for changing to the Lightning connector was that it needed to save space. The new port is far smaller and allows the iPhone 5 to be thinner and lighter than its predecessors, but what about all those accessories? Yep, every iPod/iPhone speaker dock, all those iPhone cables and many more of your iPhone accessories are now obsolete.
Apple will sell two Lightning adapters to make most of your old accessories compatible with the iPhone 5, but they aren't cheap. In Australia, it will cost you $35 for a regular Lightning to 30-pin adapter or $45 for a Lighting to 30-pin adapter with a 0.2m cord.
Why Apple called the new dock connector 'Lightning' is the biggest mystery of all. This implies it is faster than the older port when that isn't the case. The iPhone 5 doesn't charge quicker than the iPhone 4S, nor does it transfer data to and from a computer any quicker than the older dock connector. Lightning? Certainly not.
3. Headphone jack
This will be a "I don't care" point for many people and it's probably more of a personal preference than anything. But I hate the headphone jack on the bottom of smartphones. I've hated it on other phones and I hate it on the iPhone 5.
I've always put my phone in my pocket the right way up, that is, with the top of the phone at the top of my pocket. With the iPhone 5's bottom mounted headphone jack, this isn't possible when I'm listening to music. I've read that it's natural to put your phone into your pocket upside down but it's certainly not natural for me. I suspect it's not natural for plenty of other users.
It's not just your pocket, either. If you use the headphone jack to listen to music in your car, for example, and usually rest your phone in a cup holder, a bottom mounted headphone jack means you'll have to store it upside down. For a company like Apple, who seems to be obsessed with meticulous details, this move strikes me as very odd.
4. Apple Maps
For those who don't know, Apple has replaced the previously default Google Maps application with its own Maps app on iOS 6, which comes standard with the iPhone 5. The problem is, Apple Maps simply isn't very good. It appears to be a half-baked, unfinished solution that lacks both the detail and the accuracy of the Google Maps app it replaced.
According to Apple, the Maps app was designed "from the ground up". It includes features like interactive 3D views, and an admittedly impressive Flyover feature that shows selected, major metropolitan areas from the air with 3D views. The issue here is that Apple appears to have settled for style over substance. While it's undoubtedly cool to flyover a 3D view of Sydney on your iPhone, wouldn't it be better if the Maps app knew where the Apple Store in Sydney was? If you could find Sydney University? If it knew where Sydney's M4 motorway is? if you could search for the SCG instead of the Sydney Cricket Ground. If you could distinguish between the Domestic and International terminals at Sydney Airport? You get the picture.
The iPhone 5's increased screen real estate means that developers need to update their apps to take advantage of the extra space. Apple's default apps like Safari, Mail, Calendar and Reminders obviously already take advantage of this but many apps are yet to be updated.
Apps that aren't updated remain the same size as the old iPhone, with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. They aren't too noticeable on the black iPhone 5, but they're easily seen on the white model and they're pretty annoying. What's worse still is that when you're in an app that hasn't been optimised for the iPhone 5 and a notification arrives, the notification will still appear on top of the app, rather than over the black bar.
To be fair, this issue will become less of a problem over time. I received numerous app updates over the weekend and many of these were iPhone 5 updates. However, there is still a multitude of common apps that are yet to be updated and these are apps I use everyday. The likes of Instagram, Viber, Tango, YouTube, GMail, WhatsApp and Movies are just some third party apps that still have the black bars present.