iPhone 5 Review: Part 4

This is my Next First: 32GB Black & Slate

Part 1 of the Review
Part 2 of the Review
Part 3 of the Review

Introduction

Entangled and confused was I mere weeks ago, when my saddened pockets yelped at the mercy of a terrifying thought; my large hands reaching, but failing to grasp what I was aiming for, among the lottery of objects that clanged around as I roamed the streets of downtown. However, as the sun settled towards the bleak, muddled cluster of clouds that quickly approached, I would need to heed the advice that my pair of jeans had longed for me to follow. Comparing the present penitence in my soul to the maps that I would soon replace, I decided to follow my destiny, and proceeded to open the black box that presented itself to me. With my Samsung Infuse and old iPod Touch both tucked within a chamber of solitude, an immediate feeling of courage overcame me. It had been more than two years since my "phone without the phone" had been removed from its case, and just over a year since I had felt the power of half a dozen widgets magically dilute the battery of my Infuse. I hesitated, followed the contour of the glistening (and patented) shape with my finger, and spoke what seemed to be the first words of relief of mine in a long time; "Hello, iPhone 5."

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via images.apple.com



The A6 Chipset: Performance that Sips Nicely
Score: 9.5 out of 10

It was 2009 when I believe that I had my first thorough experience with an iPhone. When I scrolled, pinched, and swiped my way through the 3GS’ interface, the lack of jitter actually surprised me at first. I expected a situation similar to what I grown accustomed to, but it was not the case; the potent mixture of software and hardware features, did seem to make the iPhone a different beast than the phones that had preluded it. However, when I think about it now, the 600MHZ ARM Cortex-A8 CPU, coupled with 256MB of RAM and the included graphics processor, was really a tame child even when compared to 2010’s offerings. The progression of power and efficiency in mobile devices overall, have indeed increased at a much faster rate than I could ever have imagined. Today, when playing a game or using an intense application, I realize something disconcerting though; the iPhone 5 has enough horsepower to accomplish anything I ask of it. It makes me wonder what Apple could include next, but it also demands something radical to take advantage of what Apple’s future chips (A7 anyone?) may have in store for us.

Specifically, the iPhone 5 has long been confirmed to include the following specifications: A dynamically clocked A6 processor that reaches 1.3GHZ, 1GB of DDR2-RAM, and a tri-core, PowerVR SGX543MP3 graphical processing unit. Specifically, the A6 itself is not an A15 design, but rather a custom v7 architecture-based chip, that appears to be Apple’s first fully custom-designed CPU. When running Geekbench, the iPhone 5 received a score of over 1600, which is more than 2x the score of both the previous iPhone, and even the iPad (3).

Although the numerical results were important, real-world tests gave an even more conclusive basis on which to rate the iPhone 5. Overall, in daily use, every possible facet of iOS ran smoothly, and without any problems whatsoever. These included using Siri, all of the stock applications, and running many apps at once. For example, with about 12 icons in the multi-tasking menu, the iPhone 5 switched between them with no hiccups. Additionally, to gauge how potent the A6 really could be, I ran an extreme stress test. My results were nothing short of astonishing...

With a clear multitasking tray and a reboot, I unlocked the iPhone 5. I opened the Music Application, and started listening to music in the background. Then, I began my utterly destructive test:

- Open 15-20 apps (each opened wicked fast)

- Total of 15-20 apps in multi-tasking tray, with all notifications turned on

- Music playing in background for the entire period

- Open app store, download and update about 5 applications

- Open Infinity Blade 2, a very stressful game that continually ran for a smooth 30+ fps

- Play IB2 with music in background, 20 apps in multitasking, constant e-mail notifications, and app store downloads in progress (No lag)

Finally, search mail in spotlight, scrolling through 100s of results without any discernible sluggishness

Battery life decrease approximately 5-8% after about 10-15 minutes of extremely heavy usage

Ultimately, I think that Apple has provided enough horsepower in the iPhone 5 to ensure that it will not be left underpowered, for at least the next few generations. It also makes me excited to anticipate what new innovations could come, with even more powerful hardware down the road. As the line between comparable ARM and x86 performance is blurred, I believe that the potential for reduced power-consumption could also be interesting. Speaking of which, there are other merits that the A6 warrants, other than simply oozing performance...

I was usually able to get through a full day with my Samsung Infuse, but mostly because I owned little/no games to take advantage of the 4.5-inch canvas (and battery!). With the iPhone 5 though, I believe that I can replicate a more accurate usage scenario. As I now own many of the latest titles, that demand intensity in almost every way, I am able to gather more data to increase the precision of my findings. Overall, I tried to evaluate what an average user would see, in a wide-variety of scenarios (Hint: I was very impressed):

* For each estimated scenario, LTE and Wi-Fi were on, and brightness was set at roughly 60%

Playing graphically-rich titles such as Infinity Blade: 3-5 Hours (1% every 2 Minutes)

Watching a 1080p HD film: 8-10 Hours (1% every 5 Minutes)

Listening to music: Undefined (30+ Hours Total)

Medium-Intensity LTE and Wi-Fi Browsing Mixture: 6-8 Hours (1% every 4 Minutes)

Daily Average (All of the Above): 12 Hours with Medium-Heavy Usage

Overall, I can say that I was really pleased with the battery life I received, and have no complaints for day-to-day usage. When using the iPhone very casually, users might even be able to go through 2 days of straight ‘use’, which I would still recommend against. Still, the balance of performance and battery life on this device is fantastic, and much better than what I previously experienced, resulting in a 9.5 weighting overall. However...

Ultimately, I envision a future where battery life is measured in days, not mere hours, and that is where I would like Apple to go next. With a combination of IGZO panels, better implementation of battery technology, and future ARM processors, I also believe that it will be possible to attain greater longevity in the near-future, which is why I reserve the right to award iPhone 5 a perfect score in this regard.