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iPhone 5

The most iPhone-y iPhone to ever iPhone your iPhone.

The Pitch: Another year, another iPhone. The long anticipated iPhone 5 has finally arrived with a new design, some killer features and a huge (and very welcome) burst of speed.

What It Really Is: It’s easy to call any new iPhone the best iPhone yet because it’s always an upgrade over the last iteration. A better question would be; Is this the best upgrade we’ve seen from Apple’s phone so far? In some ways the answer is a definitive yes but, in others, it’s a middling meh. Let’s break it down:

New Display
Screen size is a distinct upgrade for the iPhone 5. More icons on your screen, more width to your videos, more pixels overall and no detriment to how the phone feels in your hand or in your pocket. That’s an impressive feat and one we appreciate because it means we don’t have to buy new jeans...or a satchel...to accommodate the new phone. Seriously, look at a Galaxy Note and then consider the fanny pack you’ll have to wear to carry that mofo around. The iPhone 5 delivers a bigger screen size without a blow out of the form factor, and that’s a boon on both fronts.

4G
Full Disclosure, we’re remaindered on the almost-always-awful AT&T network and our knuckles have been white from shaking our fists attheir orbiting satellites (they’re out there and we know they can see us). But holy shit, their 4G LTE is fast. We got a taste of how good an iDevice with 4G could be with the iPad 3, but having this kind of speed in your pocket without having to move to an Android device is a big perk and our absolute favorite new - albeit overdue - feature in the iPhone 5.

iOS 6
Apple’s new operating system is hardly exclusive to the iPhone 5, but you can’t review the hardware without talking about how it handles the software. Everything is faster thanks to the iPhone 5’s new processing power and graphics capabilities. The camera loads faster and shoots quicker, browsing in safari never hiccups, apps close without hangups; these are small improvements that go a long way towards updating and improving the user experience. But, of course, you can’t talk about iOS 6 without talking about...

Maps
Alright people, everyone needs to calm the fuck down and remember that, by and large, Google Maps sucked too. We ditched the GMaps app for Waze a long time ago and we dreaded going back to a stock map app. The most critical thing we can say about Apple’s new maps are that they don’t leapfrog the competition like we expected them to. Don’t misunderstand - we see the faults and we’re going through the growing pains, but here’s an exercise that you should try before storming Cupertino with pitchforks: Drive to the nearest city, turn on your maps in Satellite mode and enable traffic info, locate yourself and zoom in as much as possible, then tilt the 3D to a 45 degree angle. If you’re not smiling about how your iPhone just turned into a Heads Up Display that could’ve been ripped from Grand Theft Auto, then we bet you’d probably judge a restaurant solely from the pictures on a Yelp page, which,coincidentally, you can also view in Apple’s maps.

Lightning
It’s a new connector and it’s great...but it also sucks. We have more of those old wires lying around than we know what to do with (Friendship bracelets?), none of our accessories work without an adapter and there aren’t the normal slew of new, third party, moderately-priced accessories available to replace them. That hurts. THIS should have been the real issue causing blowback. We understand that Lightning is the future, that the old wire washindering innovation and that a security chip in a charger is just Apple trying to protect its interests, but it sure does feel like they hung everyone out to dry, at least for now. Three years from now, the lightning debacle will just be a blip on Apple’s timeline and we’ll all have more lightning wires lying around than we can use (again, friendship bracelets?) but, right now, it’s a fresh wound and it stings.

Fun Fact: The iPhone’s new form includes a return to the metal back of the original. After a week of normal use without a case of any kind, we have precisely zero scratches on the black, anodized aluminum. Basically, don’t use your iPhone 5 as a cutting board and all will be cool.

Who’s It For: If you’re accustomed to the conventions of Apple’s mobile devices, you’ll be getting a familiar version of it with a few new bells and whistles and a new standard of data speed. If you’ve been hanging onto that Android phone because it delivers 4G, there’s finally a solid competitor that’s infinitely more covetable. And if you’re still using a Nokia from 2004 and waiting for it to break before you upgrade, just let it go, man. That thing is gonna outlive your grandkids.