iPhone 5 Meta-Review: A Better iPhone In Every Way

The first reviews of the iPhone 5 are out and everyone's in unison: the larger screen, the impossibly thin and light! body and the increased speed all make for the best iPhone ever. But is it for you?

First off, you're going to be shocked at how light this phone is. It's the lightest iPhone, even though it's longer and has a bigger screen. After a few days with it, the iPhone 4S will feel as dense as lead.

Secondly, the screen size lengthening is subtle: but, like the Retina Display, you're going to have a hard time going back once you've used it. The extra space adds a lot to document viewing areas above the keyboard, landscape-oriented video playback (larger size and less letterboxing), and home-page organising (an extra row of icons/folders). Who knows what game developers will dream up, but odds are that extra space on the sides in landscape mode will be handily used by virtual buttons and controls.

To test [the Lightning connector] we lined up an iPhone 4S next to an iPhone 5 and ran both through a number of syncs with large files. Pulling 5.5GB of data from iTunes to the iPhone 4S took five minutes and six seconds on average. Syncing those same files to the iPhone 5 took three minutes and 57 seconds on average. So, nearly 20 per cent faster, but we're not sure how much of this is due to the new connector and how much can be attributed to faster internals in the phone itself.

Using an iPhone 5 on the Verizon LTE network in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., I averaged almost 26 megabits per second for downloads and almost 13 megabits per second for uploads. Download speeds peaked at 42 megabits per second. These speeds are more than 10 times the typical speeds I got on an iPhone 4S running Verizon's slower 3G network and are faster than most Americans' home Internet services. While LTE affects only data, voice calls I made on the iPhone 5 were clear, better than in the past. I had no dropped calls.

The iPhone 5's battery lasted between 9 and 12 hours every day, in mixed use. For most people, the phone would last the day without recharging.