iPhone 5 – Is it Worth the Money?

The iPhone 5 boasts a bigger screen, faster processor, and a new connector. But it is worth your hard-earned dollars?

Bigger Screen
The body of the iPhone 5 has been elongated, adding about a quarter inch to the screen height without changing the width. This will allow for HD video to display in its true 16:9 format and give game designers more real estate to work with. While the body is longer, the iPhone 5 is 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S — and 20% lighter.

Faster Processor
The brains of the iPhone have been given a significant bump and now have a faster processor than even the new iPad. According to Apple, the new A6 chipset will result in applications loading twice as fast, graphics running smoother and photos capturing 40% faster.

The Camera
The camera has gotten 25% smaller, has better low light processing, and can produce panoramic images. The video camera can shoot 1080p HD video, has improved video stabilization, and allows you to take still pictures simultaneously while you shoot video. Apple's video conferencing app, Facetime, will now transmit HD video, and Facetime can be enabled over cellular networks and WiFi alike.

LTE Data & Battery Life
The new iPhone will connect up with AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon's faster LTE data networks. This will mean significant increases in web browsing and download speeds. This data network is a notorious drain on battery life, so Apple made a big call-out that the battery life of the phone will remain consistent if not a little better (10% improvement overall) than battery life on past iPhones. They claim 8 hours of talk time, 225 hours of stand-by, and 8 hours of LTE web browsing.

Smaller Dock Connector
The 30-pin dock connector that has come standard on every iPhone to date was certainly due for an upgrade. It takes up a lot of space, and it was big entry spot for dust and moisture. Apple has introduced an 80% smaller connector they are calling Lightning that can be plugged into the phone in any direction, offers faster data transfer, and better durability. But given the $3 billion a year accessory market for iPhones and iPads, this switch will be painful and costly as users are forced to buy extra charging cables, docking speakers/alarm clocks or cases. Apple will be selling adapters for $29 that will ship in October.

The IOS operating system has over 200 changes, the biggest of which is turn-by-turn navigation using Apple's own maps and 3D bird's-eye images. There will be deeper social media integration within the operating system for posting to Facebook and Tweeting, and the web browser will now allow a full screen view that takes advantage of the bigger screen.

Price, Timing, and Design Options
The new iPhone will come in black and white with a new, brushed metal back. It will be available for pre-order September 14th and in stores September 21st. The 16GB model will retail for $199, 32GB for $299, 64GB for $399. The iPhone 4S goes down in price to $99. Initial countries where the iPhone 5 will be available: United States, Canada, UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, France, and Australia, Availability in more countries by the end of the year.

What We Didn't See
The online rumor mill did a very good job guessing what the iPhone 5 would look like, but a few out-there predictions that didn't come true: no T-Mobile iPhone, no liquid metal back, no holographic projector or wafer-thin design.

Is it Worth the Upgrade?
The iPhone 4S was only a superficial upgrade to the device, and I did not recommend an upgrade except for those who really needed a new phone. But the iPhone 5 is an iterative step forward from Apple. The faster processor, speed increases from LTE data networks, a better and faster camera, and consistent battery life despite the LTE drain (real world tests pending), make this a worthy purchase.

Related: True/False: Never Sell Your Old Phone

Would I upgrade out of cycle if I had the iPhone 4S? No. But if you have an iPhone 4 or older, I say reach for the iPhone 5 if you can. Personally, I have been using a Samsung Galaxy SII for the last 6 months and I will be switching back to the iPhone 5 now that it has faster data, with the hope that my battery will last all day.

Specs in a nutshell:
Weight: 112 grams (20 percent lighter than 4s)
Thickness: 7.6 mm (18 percent thinner)
Screen: 4-inch display (up from 3.5 inches), 1136x640 pixel resolution (up from 960x640), a fifth row of icons on the screen, 44 percent more color saturation
Connectivity: LTE network compatible, available on Verizon/Sprint/ATT
Processor: new A6 chip (processor and graphics are 2x faster).
Battery: 8 hours talk time, 8 hours browsing, 10 hours wifi browsing, 10 hours video, 40 hours music, 225 hours standby.
Camera: 8 mp, 3264x2448 resolution, f/2.4 aperture, 25% smaller, improved low-light quality, panorama feature, 1080p HD video, front-facing Facetime camera updated (720p) and face detection, improved mics and speakers.
Dock and connector: New connector is called Lightning, 8 pin, reversible (adaptor available for current connector).

Related: Android Touchscreen Secrets