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Hands on with the iPhone 5

Our initial hands on review of the new iPhone

We contiunue our hands-on first review of the iPhone 5 with a look at the newly upgraded cameras.

iPhone 5: Cameras

The iPhone 5 has two cameras, a front-facing 1.2Mp FaceTime webcam for video-calling, and a rear-mounted 8-megapixel iSight camera for capturing photos and video footage. Apple says that the camera can capture 720p video, and the main camera video at 1080p footage at 30fps.

We will test the iPhone 5 camera when we get decent time with the device, but in the meantime Apple claims it has fixed the problem of the iPhone being a slow camera. It says the addition of a new image signal processor means photo capture speed has been increased by up by 40 percent.  

Apple has also given the iSight camera a sapphire crystal lens cover, which Apple says helps protect your lens and make your images clearer and sharper.

Apple also says the iPhone 5 has a dynamic low-light mode that can sense light and combine elements, thus improving the quality of photos. Other improved specifications include a 3264x2448 backside illuminated, hybrid IR filter and a five-element lens. Apple has also added a fast f/2.4 aperture.

During our hands-on testing we noted that the front-facing camera has been moved slightly further to the inside area of the iPhone. We'll be testing if this changes the way you take photos when we get the chance.

Given the low light of the venue we took a few snaps to test the claims and they certainly appeared to be clearer images than the same shots taken with our iPhone 4S – looking closely we could see more detail in the gloomy background of the shot taken with the iPhone 5.

As we mentioned earlier, the iSight camera now has a Panorama mode. When we tried to use this there was some sort of interference appearing in the shot. The Apple representative with us claimed that it was the first time he had seen it and proceeded to demonstrate Panoramas. When taking a Panorama shot the user is guided to keep the camera straight via a box containing an arrow and a line that appears in the middle of the phone. You aim to keep the arrow on the line, it's a simple and intuitive way to train users to keep the phone straight.

The process wasn't intuitive enough for our hands on tester, however. And while the finished product was good, although with obvious warping, we get the impression that Panorama is supposed to be fun, rather than accurate. 

The Camera app now incorporates face detection, and you can take still photographs while recording video. One other improvement that has arrived thanks to the new camera is that you can have FaceTime HD, with backside illumination (using the rear camera), so you can show things off in high definition.

iPhone 5

iPhone 5: Software

The iPhone 5 is the first device to natively run iOS 6, the latest iteration of Apple's mobile and tablet operating system. iOS is available for other iOS devices from September 19, and brings new features such as  Facebook integration, Apple’s own Maps app complete with Flyover, UK-specific sport and business data to make Siri more useful over here, and more.

We had a look at the new Maps app to see how well it coped in London, and tried to speak to Siri. Unfortunately Siri couldn't hear - which is fair enough, the crowds at Apple events are pretty loud. We'll be testing this more at a later date.  

As for Maps. There were 3D maps available for the few areas in the UK that we looked up, but the 3D Flyover maps were only available for the very centre of the cities we tried. For example, the PC Advisor offices on Euston Road were not covered by the Flyover maps, just standard 3D, but as we saw from the keynote, Big Ben is available in Flyover mode 3D.  

We'll be publishing a full iOS 6 review in due course, but it looks like a very exciting upgrade for the iPhone 5, and we found it responsive and stable in the time we were using it.

iPhone 5: Performance and battery life

Apple claims the iPhone 5 is up to twice as fast as its predecessor, the iPhone 4S. We've now run our benchmarks and the results are impressive.

In Geekbench 2, which measures general performance, the iPhone 5 scored 1650. That's considerably more than 100% faster, since the iPhone 4S managed 632 in the same test. That's 2.6x faster, to save you doing the sums.

When it comes to gaming, the iPhone 5 ran our Egypt HD test at 38fps, which is exactly twice the framerate of the 4S's 19fps (running iOS 6).

The SunSpider Javascript test measures web browsing performance. Here, the iPhone 5 scored 903ms, while the 4S (running iOS 6) completed the benchmark in 1891ms. Again, that's pretty much bang on two times quicker.

In general use, the iPhone 5 feels incredibly snappy, opening apps switching between them with minimal delay.

The iPhone 5 has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Despite the larger screen being crammed into a smaller space, Apple that Apple claims will last for longer than the iPhone 4S in use. (It will be a staggering achievement if true, but not untypical of Apple's battery-life obsessed way with iDevices.)

We haven't yet had time to test the new iPhone's battery, but will update this article when we have.

For the record, Apple claims the new iPhone 5 will last for up to eight hours of 3G talk time, 10 hours of Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video- and 40 hours of music playback, or 225 hours of standby.

iPhone 5 earbuds

iPhone 5: Lightning dock connector and headphones

Ever the quirky tech company, Apple has dubbed its new connector 'Lightning' (as a partner to 'Thunderbolt'). What it means is that all your old docks and connectors won't work for the new iPhone 5.

See also: iPhone 5 Lightning dock connector: what you need to know.

The Lightning dock connector is a 9-pin hook up that replaces the 30-pin dock connector of previous iPhones (and iPads and so on). Apple is, or course, selling an adaptor. Thanks for that Apple.

If existing accessories was a reason for you not jumping ship from the iPhone to a different device, think again. The Lightning adaptor will cost you £25, and make any dock in which your phone sits look ugly as sin.

The new Dock connector is still a fixed connection like the old iPhone dock connector, the main difference is it doesn't matter which way round it is when you plug it in. There had been some speculation that it would be similar in design to a micro USB plug, it is not. 

Apple has also introduced a new set of earphones for the iPhone. The new earphones have a more curved appearance, and fit further into the ear. They also cost £25 separately (but you get some free with your phone).

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