Nov 5, 2012

Posted by in iPhone, Phones | 0 Comments

iPhone 5 Singapore: Hands-on Reviews

If you are planning to sign up for new Telco contract, it is likely that you are overwhelmed or even confused which phone to go for. The launch of iPhone 5 Singapore was greeted with mixed reviews. This is unlike in the past where going with iPhone was the sure and wisest decision. With new slate of Android smartphones coming from the likes of Samsung (the new giant), HTC, Sony and LG, is sticking with iPhone in Singapore still the wisest decision to make? Read on and you will find out.

iPhone 5 Singapore Reviews

I still remember the year when Apple’s Steve Jobs surprised the world with his trademark ‘one more thing’ by taking the wrap of the first generation iPhone. It caught even the most staunch Apple fans and analysts by surprise. It was simply because no one had seen any sign of it coming. Back then, Apple was still riding on the success of its iPod music player but it was no where as big as it is today. Before the iPhone gold tap started to run, Apple’s market valuation was less than US$100B. Compare that to its US$600-700B market valuation today. To put things into perspective, Apple’s iPhone business alone is worth more than all of Microsoft. That is how big Apple has grown to become.

To power the millions of iPhones that it sold, Apple had chosen to rely on Samsung to supply most of the components that go into an iPhone – from Arm processor to display panel to DRAM to memory chip to batteries. The sheer rise of iPhone to be the king of smartphone has propelled both companies into industry behemoths that they have become today. Unfortunately, if there is a classic lesson anyone can draw from the iPhone success story is that the feeling at the top is lonely. As relationship between Apple and Samsung turned sour and its deterioration is as fast as its meteoric rise, Apple is left with little choice but to diversify its base of component suppliers.

This option is not one that is without its own set of problems. Of all the many issues arising from having to deal with many (instead of single) suppliers is secrecy. At the beginning of the year, Tim Cook was famously quoted as saying that he will double down on secrecy. As things turned out, it is easier said than done. Tonnes of leaked info, pictures and specifications had been making their way on the rumor mills. It was no wonder that the unveiling of iPhone 5 brought no surprises to the table. Coupled this with the uproar over iOS 6′s Map (that forced Tim Cook to issue an apology to millions of disappointed Apple fans) and iPhone 5 camera’s purple haze issue, many have dubbed iPhone 5 launch as the worst product launch in Apple’s history. Similarly, we saw a muted iPhone 5 Singapore launch.

When you are bombarded by all the negative coverage that the phone has received, I can understand if you feel overwhelmed and felt that it is time to jump the ship. This has led many to ditch their iPhone in search for a better alternative. While there has been a lot of hype surrounding Windows 8 phone recently, I do not see Windows phone making a come back any time soon, especially in Singapore. For this reason, Android is the only viable and natural choice for disgruntled iPhone fans in Singapore.

Frankly speaking, I share the same feeling like many disappointed iPhone fans such as yourself. For a moment, out of impulse, I almost decided to turn my back on iPhone 5. Fortunately, I did not. It’s not a decision that I made lightly, but one that is based on rationale thinking and thorough research. Today, one month has passed since I first got my iPhone 5 and I have to say that I was glad not to make the switch and I find myself in love with it more than my old iPhone 4. Here is ‘The case for iPhone 5′ in my own words.

Physical Design: iPhone 5 is probably the most beautiful phone ever created

Samsung has no doubt been closing its gaps with Apple in their intensifying battle for smartphone supremacy. But I think they still have a long way to go to catch up with Apple on this one. In my opinion, if Samsung were to replicate Apple’s design success, they have to poach Jonathan Ive away from Apple. He is probably the only guy left who possess the experience, caliber and taste that are closest to Steve Jobs.

After using iPhone 4 for 2 years, I initially thought that the iPhone 4 design has been flawless. I could not imagine how it feels to have a phone that features a bigger screen but with little change in form factor. After getting myself acquainted with iPhone 5, everything was history. As mentioned earlier, I did my research and tried my hands on almost any Android phones that I can get hold of – from the all popular Galaxy SIII to Galaxy Note to HTC One X to LG Optimus to Sony Xperia. None of them come close the feeling you get when holding on to the iPhone 5. The feeling is just extra-ordinary. Holding on to iPhone 5 does not make you feel like you’re holding on to some plastic or maybe prototype phones that all the Android phones that I’ve tried. The aluminium back body sets iPhone 5 apart from its competitors.

Walt Mossberg, of Wall Street Journal, summed it best in his own words:

The world’s most popular smartphone becomes significantly faster, thinner and lighter this week, while gaining a larger, 4-inch screen—all without giving up battery life, comfort in the hand and high-quality construction.

It is true that the iPhone 5 screen size may be the smallest compared to the likes of SIII, Note and Note II. But unless you are sure of the reason why you need the bigger screen, I think the iPhone 5 size is just right. It is firmer to grasp (especially if you have a small palm like me) and easier to manipulate and navigate.

Camera: Fast and produce superb images

Coming into iPhone 5 as an iPhone 4 user previously, I come to appreciate the superb quality of the iSight camera that comes with the iPhone 5. It does not only take faster to load (compared to iPhone 4 camera), but it produces some of the best shots taken using a phone that I’ve personally seen. I love how the iOS 6′s panorama support works seamlessly on iPhone 5. I had lots of fun playing with it and I wonder why it took so long for someone to finally figure out how to make panorama picture taking works. It is not that this is an entirely new technology, but it is the combination of ease and quality that make iPhone 5 camera a delight to use.

Connector: Lightning port

While I’ve not seen how the performance of the new port matches to its new ‘lightning’ name, I love the slimmer design compared to the old 30-pin connector. This is even when it means that I have to purchase the additional port converter in order to make sure that my new iPhone 5 works with the dock speaker I have in my bedroom. Come on, the 30-pin connector has been around for donkey years and now is the time for it to make way for a new generation of connectors. While the fact that data transfer over the lightning port is still based on USB 2.0 speed may sound like a disappointment, it is not really an issue if you’ve transitioned yourself onto the cloud as you tend to require very infrequent data transfer between your iPhone to the PC. One thing I notice is the iPhone 5 takes shorter amount of time to fully charge when compared to my old iPhone 4.

Apps: 3D Maps is not functioning well in Singapore

The biggest disappointment that I have so far of my new iPhone 5 is the absence of 3D maps in Singapore. The mapgate has been well discussed all over the Net and I won’t try to add to that. I’m placing a bet on this one. I’m not entirely sure if Apple would be able to perfect its Map app like the way Google has done it. But for now, I’m going to give them the benefits of the doubt and assume that they will do whatever it takes (even if it means hiring Ex-Google maps engineers) to not let the fans down for too long.

LTE: A technology ahead of its time

If there is one disconnection between device sales claim and reality, it would be the share of web traffic that is coming from iOS and Android devices. Given all the news claiming millions of Android phones being sold monthly (Samsung recently claimed to have sold 30M Galaxy SIII), one is right to think that by now, web traffic would have to be at least equal or dominated by Android devices. It turns out that share of web traffic originating from iOS has been rising steadily instead of declining.

Since I heavily surf the Net using both my iPhone and iPad, I know how pleasant web browsing is from my iOS phone and tablet. Initially, I was delighted to be able to experience the WiFi-like browsing speed while on the go, as touted by the local telcos when LTE networks were rolled out in Singapore recently. However, I was utterly disappointed by the many shortcomings of the new network. I encountered frequent disconnection when the network switches from 3G to 4G and vice-versa. This has prompted me to switch off the automatic switch to LTE. I’m not sure if the blame is on iPhone 5 or the telco’s network. This is something that I’m still trying to confirm and find out. For now, I think given the state of the network quality in Singapore, it will take at least months or a year before we can gain the full advantage of LTE networks.

Conclusions

I’m not saying iPhone 5 is the perfect phone that will be suitable for everyone. It indeed has many shortcomings and I’m fully aware that fans’ patience on Apple is running thin (John Gruber, one of Apple’s most prominent backers, is already predicting Apple’s dinosaur time would come in 1-year time). However, rather than simply jumping off the ship and abandon your iPhone, it is worth to spend some time looking at the slate of Android alternatives and find out if they offer the solutions to iPhone 5′s imperfections that you’re seeking. I have to say some of the Android phones appear compelling at first glance, but they do come with their own set of shortcomings too. For me, I’m glad to have stick with my iPhone. I give it another chance just because I think all existing alternatives are close but not quite made the cut yet.

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