iPhone 5 reviews: a design classic, despite spec flaws
Friendly critics drool over 'arguably the most beautiful object Apple has ever produced'
THE iPhone 5 reviews are in - and, even though Apple's new flagship handset comes up short in a number of areas, the device has done more than enough to charm the tech journalists.
"This is without a doubt the best iPhone yet. This is a hallmark of design. This is the one you've been waiting for," writes Engadget's Tim Stevens.
The iPhone 5 might look the same as its predecessors, but "the biggest change is impossible to see.
"Pick up the iPhone 5 and you're immediately struck by the reduction in weight. It's 20 per cent lighter than the 4S, a figure that doesn't seem like it would make much of an impact. It does."
Edward C. Baig of USA Today writes: "The iPhone 5 is a winner that should keep Apple at the front of the smartphone pack.
"People have always had lofty expectations for the iPhone 5, especially as the competition stiffens. Apple has met those expectations with a gem."
Apple has taken a different approach regarding screen size to its rivals, some of which have "gargantuan" screens, notes Walt Mossberg on AllThingsD. The iPhone 5 has retained the width of the screen on the iPhone 4S, but made it longer, which makes it more manageable for small-handed people.
"I found the new iPhone screen much easier to hold and manipulate than its larger rivals and preferred it," says Mossberg. "In my view, Apple's approach makes the phone far more comfortable to use, especially one-handed.
It's easier to carry in a pocket or purse and more natural-looking when held up to your face for a call."
A number of reviewers staunchly defend Apple from the criticism that the iPhone 5 lacks key technology ('touch to pay' Near Field Communication, wireless battery recharging, upgradeable memory) found in rival handsets.
In The Daily Telegraph, Shane Richmond gives these pesky "specificationists" the brush-off: "In truth it's hard to think of a feature offered elsewhere that the average person - as opposed to the tech obsessive - really needs."
Richmond prefers to focus on aesthetics, saying the iPhone 5 "is a marvellous piece of design, arguably the most beautiful object Apple has ever produced".
The Guardian's Charles Arthur is similarly star-struck (awarding five of them in his review). "In a world dominated by 'specifications' - how fast, how far, how many - many commentators think the Olympics of smartphones is measured, like a race, by how fast you do things. Does this phone run at 1.6 GHz and that one at 1.61GHz? Award the medal!
"What photos and specifications can't tell you is what it's like to hold in your hand. It's only by picking it up [that] you understand what [designer] Sir Jonathan Ive is on about."
Cynics might ask why these reviewers have awarded five stars to a phone that they admit looks almost the same as its predecessor, lacks the high specifications of its rivals, and has introduced a new charger socket, Thunderbolt, which has at a stroke rendered millions of iPhone accessories obsolete.
Business Insider has an answer. Apple is apparently "insanely selective" about who gets to review its products first. "Apple has a handful of journalists with a history of saying positive things about the company that it gives early access to.
"It is important to know that tonight's reviews come from Apple's cherry-picked group of journalists who are more likely to give the iPhone 5 a positive review."