Hands-on demo with the iPhone 5: first impressions

SAN FRANCISCO -- I got the chance to play around with the iPhone 5 on Wednesday after Apple’s launch of the new smartphone. Here are some initial thoughts:

-- It really is remarkably light. I picked it up expecting it to feel about the same as my current iPhone 4S, but it felt noticeably lighter in the hand. The phone was still sturdy, though -- better than the plasticky feel of other smartphones on the market.

-- The 4-inch retina display is crisp and clean.

-- An Apple rep walked me through the upgraded Maps app, which now includes turn-by-turn directions. No more driving with one hand and reading directions off the iPhone with the other hand (we hope). The function appeared to work well, although we’d like to see it in a real-world driving situation.


-- The upgraded camera shot nice photos for a smartphone, with what appeared to be less fuzzy edges on subjects (the photo of Tim Cook and Dave Grohl on this blog post was shot with an iPhone 5). I also tried out the new panorama feature, which was easy to use and created a nice, long photo of the Apple demo room.

-- If you were hoping for a completely redesigned phone in terms of physical looks, you’re out of luck. As many have noted, the iPhone 5 at first glance looks almost identical to the iPhone 4 and 4S models, just a bit taller. But I’ve always been a fan of the sleek look of those versions, so no complaints here on that front.

-- About those new EarPods that come with the iPhone 5: Reporters were given the ear buds to try out, and they are significantly more comfortable than the previous more circular versions and, at least for me, stay in place better. Sound seemed a bit sharper, too, but don’t mistake these $30 ear buds (if you buy them separately) for higher-end ear buds or high-performance headphones that cost hundreds of dollars.

So that’s our takeaway for now. What do you guys think? Enough to make you upgrade or switch over from another smartphone brand?


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