Well, all of those picking up the iPhone 5 will have the same reaction: this thing is amazingly light. You’ve probably heard the numbers by now (20 per cent lighter than the predecessor, as well as beating most of the opposition too at 112g.)
It’s an odd sensation, but it actually detracts from the experience when you first pick it up. We’ve praised the weighty feel of the iPhone in the past, lending it a premium feel in the face of toy-like phones, and it’s almost disappointing that Apple decided to join that clan.
However, through extended use this problem quickly disappears. The overall effect of the phone is still a chassis designed for strength, and so it feels solid, if somehow a little hollow; pleasantly, though, it sits more anonymously in the pocket.
You’ll obviously see the change in height too – the iPhone 5 stands 123.8mm tall to allow for the larger 4-inch screen. In truth, those not familiar with the iPhone 4S probably wouldn’t notice the difference, which is why it’s a good move from Apple to include the larger screen if it’s not going put people off that hate larger phones.
The decision to stick at 4-inches is Apple’s admission that while it recognises people are all over the idea of having more screen real estate to play with it doesn’t want to move away from the thumb-friendly nature of the device.
Through a mixture of moving the centre of gravity slightly as well as repositioning the screen within the bezel, it’s still possible to scroll your thumb mostly around the whole display one-handed, which Apple is clearly keen to keep hold of.
However, we’re not convinced of that argument any more, and it’s the first iPhone where comfort to some extent really does depend on the size of your hands. For many people, it is possible to move a thumb around the entire display, albeit with a little more stretching than on previous models; anyone with smaller hands might find the top of the screen out of reach. For everyone, the Home button is harder to access when holding your phone comfortably.
The net result is a curious one: a device that’s more pleasant on the eyes and nicer to hold, but frequently more awkward to use than its predecessor. Newcomers might not notice that, but the compromise will be clear for upgraders from the iPhone 4S.
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