6 months with the iPhone 5: expectations vs reality

It seems like it was just six months ago I was waiting in line to buy an iPhone 5.(s AAPL) I thought I’d share what my expectations were in September when I bought it, and how the device, and iOS 6, fared against them. Overall, I remain happy with the iPhone 5 and iOS. Naturally, there are some things that bug me as well as impress me. I’ve owned every iPhone model to date, but in this case I’m talking about my experiences going from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5.


Expectation: This is an iOS 6 issue, but I expected to use Siri on a near-daily basis.

Reality: I use Siri on a near-daily basis. With iOS 6 she got better, and I frequently have a desire to send and receive texts while operating a motor vehicle. Looking at the phone and typing while doing this, I’ve heard, is frowned upon. So I use Siri instead. For the most part, she does a decent job. I’ve learned the hard way to keep my messages short. I don’t really use Siri to create Reminders, move calendar events, and the like. I do, however, use her to check on when the Red Sox are playing and what the score is.

What I’d like to see improved: I don’t like her all-or-nothing option to change a text message. I’d love to be able to tell her to replace a word. Often, in a multi-sentence text she’ll get it correct, except for that one word that’s crucial to understanding the meaning of the message.


The camera

Expectation: I expected that the iPhone 5 would continue to replace my point-and-shoot camera.

Reality: Even with the purple haze problem, the iPhone 5 has indeed solved my needs for a point-and-shoot camera.

What I’d like to see improved: Maybe a little better image focus and stabilization. If I’m shooting a picture of a handheld object and my hands are slightly shaking, I’ve noticed the iPhone auto-focus is tad sensitive. I imagine the camera on the iPhone 5S (or whatever the next-generation iPhone is called) will be better in ways I won’t be able to detect, but I think the iPhone 5 camera is good as is.


The screen

Expectation: It would be really different than the iPhone 4S screen.

Reality: Well, it’s certainly taller.  The extra row of icons is helpful. With the previous screen size, I always had apps I use frequently sitting on the second screen. Now, all the apps I use often are one screen. Apps like Twitter, Facebook,(s FB) Notes, and Evernote feel more comfortable with the taller screen. The Kindle(s AMZN) and iBooks apps feel like I’m reading from a weird legal size paper. Other apps seem to think the extra real estate is perfect for showing me more ads — I’m looking at you, The Weather Channel.

I was hoping I would use Pages more, but it still doesn’t seem to adapt well to the large screen. In fairness, this complaint may be me moving the goal posts since even on my Nexus 7(s GOOG) I’m not doing any writing. Nor do I feel my life is really missing an iPad mini, either.

What I’d like to see improved: I agree with Andy Ihnatko’s take on the Samsung Galaxy S3 screen. I frequently keep my iPhone in a car mount where it sits right in that hard-to-see range for my old guy eyes. I want to see Apple release a larger screen. There are few things that tempt me towards Android phones, and the screen size is always the demon on my shoulder.


My workflow

Expectation: The iPhone would continue to be command central for my life.

Reality: It still remained command central, but my iPad usage for non-leisure activities increased. This isn’t an indictment against the iPhone per se, and it likely has more to do with buying an iPad with cellular connectivity this time around, along with a keyboard case. However, the majority of my communications, note-taking and task management functions have been on the iPhone 5. What was previously an 80-20 split is now about a 70-30 split. For long-form writing away from my Mac, the iPad will likely always win that battle.

What I’d like to see improved: A system-side sharing feature like there is in Android. I absolutely love that I can send links to Instapaper and Evernote in Android with one easy click, as long as the app is installed. No messy bookmarks to install.

Final thoughts

My only regret with the iPhone 5 is self-created: Instead of opting for a 64 GB phone, I bought the 32 GB and AppleCare+. I should have bought the 64 GB as I’m now struggling to find room for my music. I’m swapping out albums more than I’d like. I bought AppleCare+ because I expected for financial reasons that I’d skip the 2013 iPhone update and wanted the extra coverage — I was too far off my upgrade cycle for any discounts last year, so I’m going to wait until I don’t need to pay the off-contract price.

I’m impressed with the overall sturdiness of the iPhone 5. I don’t keep it in a case, and with the metal back I don’t feel like it’s going to shatter with a bad fall. I don’t seem to have as many weird cell reception issues as I had before. I work in a section of a building with notoriously bad cell coverage (about 1 bar), but outside of that, I don’t seem to have many “you’re holding it wrong” issues. The LTE speeds are nice, I just wish AT&T’s(s T) coverage net was wider. I get LTE at work, but not near home.

Overall, I’d say the iPhone 5 met my expectations. While I’d likely buy an iPhone with a larger screen, I do like that the iPhone 5 is the same width as previous iPhones; it’s not too bulky in my pockets.

Next time, though, I’m getting the largest storage option available. I guess size does matter after all.