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iPhone 5: Slimmer, lighter, faster, but is it the Mohammed Ali of phones?

The iPhone 5. Photo: Courtesy: Apple
The iPhone 5. Photo: Courtesy: Apple
It’s the morning after. Most of us are just recovering from covering the most awaited digital world event of this year – the launch of the iPhone 5 by Apple.
 
After months of being force-fed “leaked” images and “authentic iPhone 5 specs”, the real McCoy was unveiled before the world by Apple Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Cook.
 
I have thoroughly exhausted myself writing about what makes the iPhone 5 tick; things like how fast is it, how slim it is, how bright it looks, and so on and so forth. So I am not going to repeat myself here. (For those of you interested in catching up with those details, click here).
 
Since I had promised in my column last week that I would be devoting today’s column completely to the iPhone 5, I am going to do just that. But I am going to address this column to the first-time iPhone users. They are bound to ask themselves this question – should we buy our first iPhone or not? Hopefully, this column may provide these iPhone virgins some headsup.
 
For iPhone owners such as I, this is a no -brainer. Of course, once I recover from the iPhone 5 reportage hangover, I am headed straight to the nearest dealer to book my phone. Oh, I forgot, it will not officially surface in India perhaps till later this year. In fact, India finds no mention in the list of 22 countries which will be getting this phone in the second round, (The first round will see the phone debuting in the US, Canada, the UK and a handful of Asian countries) but I leave that to the guys at Apple to sort out. We are told by the end of this year, the phone will be available in at least 100 nations.
 
The iPhone 5 clearly will sell a few millions, and is bound to draw some ecstatic “Oohs” and “Aahs” from delighted owners and perhaps their envious neighbours. The phone may be slimmer, faster, and all that razzmatazz, but the question I am sure that is uppermost in almost everybody’s mind is – is the iPhone 5 the best phone in the world today?
 
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Straight off the bat, let me tell you, the iPhone 5 faces some serious competition from Samsung Galaxy S III and even from others in its league like the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC One X. I am not the only one saying so; “hardware experts” on the Net, too, share the same opinion. The iPhone 5 may float like a butterfly but it ain’t stinging like a bee. So Samsung lovers, chin up, your S III remains a worthy opponent of the iPhone 5.
 
Oh, and before I forget, the last I heard in cyberspace, Samsung was reportedly padding up to sue Apple on the iPhone 5, over 4G LTE connectivity patents that it claims to be its own. (For more on this click here). And besides India, South Korea is notably missing from the iPhone 5 launch markets, I wonder why?
 
For now, though, back to our phone boxing match.
 
While iPhone owners will queue up to upgrade, what about the potential iPhone newbies? For this lot, I have tried to do a slapdash analysis of the iPhone 5 with two comparable rivals, in order to provide some answers. A word of caution: These are not the views of an expert, strictly speaking, but are based on inputs provided by other smartphone experts, the manufacturers themselves, online user reviews, all of it topped of course with some nuanced thoughts of my own.
 
Here are the comparisons between the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S III and Nokia Lumia 920, based on a few of the important parameters that go into the making of a good smartphone.
 
Screen: Size matters. Especially screen size in a smartphone. The S III has a screen bordering 5 inches as against the iPhone 5’s 4 inch. The S III screen uses a technology called AMOLED, which displays vivid colour and deep blacks while the iPhone 5 has an LCD screen which displays whites better. The Lumia 920 screen, on the other hand, is 4.5-inch (bigger than the iPhone 5), 1,280 by 768 pixel touchscreen; 332 pixels per inch.
 
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iPhone 5: 0, S III : 2, Lumia 920: 1
 
Size & Weight: The iPhone 5 is 4.87 inches tall by 2.31 inches wide by 0.31 inch thick. It weighs 3.95 ounces. The S III is 5.37 inches tall by 2.77 inches wide by 0.33 inch thick. It weighs 4.69 ounces. The Lumia is 5.11 inches tall by 2.76 inches wide by 0.42 inch thick and weighs 6.52 ounces. I feel in this category, overall, the iPhone 5 has a slight edge over the others. On the flip side, the iPhone 5 may be light but the S III and Lumia 920 are taller and wider, though the Lumia loses out in the weight category.
 
Size: iPhone: 1, S III: 1, Lumia 920: 1
Weight: iPhone: 2, S III: 1, Lumia: 0
Overall: iPhone: 3, S III: 2, Lumia 920:1
 
Processor: The iPhone 5 has a proprietary A6 CPU but the other two have equally, if not more, fast processors. So a tie, once again.
 
iPhone: 1, S III: 1, Lumia 920: 1
 
Camera: Cameras on all three phones are toe-to-toe. The new iPhone has a 8- megapixel rear camera, LED flash, 1080p HD video recording, 720p front-facing camera, built-in panorama mode. The S III, too, has almost the same specs, but with a 1.9 megapixel front facing camera. The Lumia has a 8.7-megapixel rear camera, LED flash, 1080p HD video recording, but only a 1.2-megapixel front- facing camera with optical image stabilization.
 
iPhone 5: 1, S III: 1, Lumia 920: 0
 
Battery: Both claim 8 hour talk time on 3G, while the Lumia claims a 10 hours talk time on 3G and 67 hours music playback.
 
iPhone 5: 1: S III: 1, Lumia 920: 2
 
Pricing: iPhone 5 16 GB: US $199, 32 GB: $299 and 64 GB: $399. S III: 16 GB: $199, 32 GB: 249, 64 GB: 349. For Lumia, pricing unannounced.
 
iPhone 5: 0, S III: 1
 
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I shall stop here because by now, readers would have realised that the iPhone 5 is not really miles ahead of its competition as Mr Tim Cook would like to believe. In fact, if you were to ask me, for perhaps the first time since it was introduced in 2007, the iPhone faces some serious challenge from competitors. No longer can it smirk at other minions around, that much is clear.
 
So, here’s my advice: If you have the money and are contemplating buying a smartphone, and have never bought an iPhone in your life before, the iPhone 5 with all its next-gen features, is definitely worth its price tag. But I suspect the iPhone is about to lose its snob value, and that explains the lower-than-expected price tag. So if snob value is what you wanna pay for, I would say go for the S III or the Lumia 920. These will draw in more admiration and looks from friends and strangers alike than the iPhone 5. Plus of course, they come with equally good, if not better, features. (My apologies to hardcore iPhone
lovers).
 

Previous columns by Sorab Ghaswalla

Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla, is a journalist with near three decades of experience, and has worked in some well-known Indian and international print and television media organizations such as  The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, United News of India (UNI), The Gulf Today and India TV.
 
He has founded a Knowledge Services firm called New Age Content Services LLP, that leverages on the inherent strengths of the digital world. He also edits the website, www.whatsnewonthenet.com.
 
You can write to him at newagecontent@gmail.com
 
NNN
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