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iPhone 5 takes next step in smartphone evolution

Jason Snell | Sept. 26, 2012
It's been a little more than five years since Apple released the original iPhone. During that time the world has changed.

Still, any transition like this is bound to be frustrating. I've got dock-connector cables all over my house and office. The iPhone 5 comes with a single cable, meaning that if I want to charge my phone at home or at work, I need to carry my cable with me (or buy a spare for $19). In time this will all work out and Lightning USB cables will be as common as ninjas in 1980s comics. But in the meantime, we'll be paying for adapters and cables and grousing all the way.

So why did Apple replace the venerable dock connector with Lightning? There are plenty of reasons, starting with size--the new connector is shockingly smaller than the old one. It's smarter than USB. It's also better, because there's no wrong way to insert the cable into the device--either way will do. And presumably it's been designed to last Apple for the next nine years, give or take, so that we won't have to make this unpleasant transition again in a year or two. (Fingers crossed.)

Finally, in a switch that will change the way you remove your iPhone from your pocket, Apple has moved the headphone jack on the iPhone from the top, where it's resided for five years, to the bottom. Now when I pull my iPhone out of my pocket while listening to music or podcasts, I need to rotate the top toward me, rather than away from me. It took me about four times to train myself to do this, so not a big deal. This new position has the distinct advantage of keeping your headphone cord from dangling down over the screen.

Faster all around

The iPhone 5 is faster. Yes, its upgraded dual-core A6 processor makes it the fastest iOS device ever and quite possibly the fastest phone in existence. But on a mobile device, there's another place where speed matters: cellular data. And the iPhone 5 can now connect to LTE (Long-Term Evolution) cellular networks, which offer vastly faster speeds than the old GSM (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon, Sprint) networks.

Let's start with the processor. In almost every test we performed, the iPhone 5 ran laps around all previous iPhones and iPads. Its Geekbench test score was more than twice as high as the closest competitors, the iPad 2 and the third-generation iPad. It loaded a webpage in three-quarters of the time of the iPhone 4S and third-generation iPad. And it completed the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark in 64 percent of the time it took the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad. Graphics performance was just as impressive, including 2x improvement in frame rates over the iPhone 4S. And the WebVizBench HTML 5 test found the iPhone 5 three times as fast as the 4S.

 

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