iPhone 5 verdict: best in the world, but oh so boring

THE IPHONE 5 has landed – and it’s slimmer, taller and faster than its predecessors. But while Apple’s flagship smartphone looks pretty, experts have criticised the omission of key new mobile technologies. Some have even been bandying about a word that would have the late Steve Jobs spinning in his grave: boring.

“The iPhone 5 is the greatest phone in the world,” says Mat Honan in tech bible Wired. “It has top-notch hardware… Its new operating system, iOS 6, is slicker than slugs on ice. And its ultra-slim body is a triumph of industrial design... It’s aces. Just aces.

“And yet it is also so, so cruelly boring.”

Honan goes on to call the iPhone 5 the Toyota Prius of phone updates - “an amazing triumph of technology”, but “every bit as exciting as a 25 mph drive through a sensible neighbourhood at a reasonable time of day".   In what some might see as a low blow, Honan says that the most “purely exciting” phone on the market at the moment is the Nokia Lumia 920.   Jessica Vascellaro at the Wall Street Journal also questions whether the iPhone is in danger of becoming boring.    “The iPhone 5 doesn't have several features that are becoming standard across other smartphones,” she observes. These include near-field communication (NFC), which can be used to make payments by touching your smartphone to a till; wireless recharging, which was the standout feature at last week’s launch of the Nokia Lumia 920; and a bigger screen (the iPhone 5 has a 4-inch screen, but this is still smaller than all of its rivals).

“Even some hard-core Apple fans questioned whether the iPhone can continue to trail blaze or if it's becoming a snoozer,” says Vascellaro. “One Apple employee recently confided he had been hoping the new device would have more dramatic changes.”

What the iPhone 5 does have is nevertheless impressive. The new A6 processor makes it twice as fast as the previous phone - a statistic which is even more impressive when you consider the handset is 18 per cent thinner and 20 per cent lighter. It also boasts 4G LTE connectivity, which means British iPhone 5 owners will be able to take advantage of ultra-fast fourth generation mobile internet – as long as they have a contract with newly launched network EE.   Despite the “boring” chatter, analysts are satisfied the iPhone 5 will outsell all its predecessors. Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co told the Los Angeles Times that the iPhone 5 rollout is faster and more aggressive than previous launches and will hit more countries more quickly.

"Apple could sell significant amounts of iPhone 5s prior to the end of this quarter, potentially 10 million or more," he said.

The sentiment was echoed by The Daily Telegraph’s Mic Wright, who celebrates the iPhone 5 as a “triumph of miniaturisation”. Addressing the allegations of apathy, he says it was appropriate that the rock band Foo Fighters were present at the launch.   “Dave Grohl’s band are a thoroughly mainstream proposition whose music is loved by their fans and dismissed by others as somewhat derivative and not as exciting as they once were,” he writes. “That’s how the iPhone 5 will be received.” But, he adds, “Apple will keep selling big numbers, just as the Foo Fighters will keep playing stadiums.” · 

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