iPhone 5 review: Performance
Confirmed by our lab tests, everything about the iPhone 5's performance has been augmented, in this contrarily smaller mobile phone handset.
It's not just a bit faster – it's 100% or more quicker in processor speed. Similarly in the graphics room, gamesters or anyone that needs grease-lightning visuals will be beaming from ear to ear at the step-change in sheer speed.
iPhone 5 review: A6 Processor
We can't honestly say that on any day we picked up an iPhone 4 or even 4S and thought ‘this is a great phone – but I just wish it could be a little bit faster'. Yet the new-found double-speed action does end up bringing you a device that's really just more moreish to use.
Apple is playing coy in the numbers game for the new A6 chip, although technicians who have dissected the phone are pointing to a much bigger breakthrough than may be obvious.
The A6 appears to be Apple's own in-house chip design, still using the ARM architecture but not as prèt-a-porter as most smartphone makers typically specify. It's still a dual-core processor, like that in the 4S, but memory is double the iPhone 4S' at 1GB.
Crucially, the architecture may be more like the as-yet unreleased ARM Cortex-A15 reference design rather than Cortex-A9 that has been staking out the ground for leading smartphone designs. The graphics engine now appears to be a tri-core processor too.
Clocked at 1.3GHz, the A6 chip may appear old-hat against the 1.4GHz quad-cores required for Android phones to feel slick. But in synthetic benchmarks, it's the fastest mobile chip you can lay hands on.
iPhone 5 review: Benchmark Results
Apple says the new A6 processor is up to twice as fast as the A5 in the iPhone 4S. Our benchmarks of processor and memory performance with Geekbench 2 suggested that Apple was being economical with the truth – by understating the staggering increase in speed.
The iPhone 5 scored 1650 points in Geekbench 2, compared to the 4S' score of 632. That's over 2.6 times faster.
When it came to gaming performance, the iPhone 5 ran the Egypt HD test within the GLBenchmark 2.5 test at 38fps, which is exactly twice the framerate of the 4S' which scored 19fps.
In general use, the iPhone 5 feels incredibly snappy, opening apps and loading websites quicker than ever before. We haven't tried EE's new LTE service yet, but even web browsing over 3G feels appreciably faster.
We took a series of network speed tests over a short time period from the same location, using the same Three nano-SIM card. The iPhone 4S averaged 7.92 Mbps download, and 2.34 Mbps upload from our office location in London. Peak speed recorded in any single run was 8.78 Mbps.
The iPhone 5 is helped along by not just a faster processor but a more modern RF chipset for cellular data. It averaged 13.3 Mbps download and 2.52 Mbps upload. Peak speed hit a giddy 16.91 Mbps.
At time of press, the only aspect we haven't objectively tested is battery life. Anecdotally, we have been seeing in excess of two days' life, suggesting that all the extra power is not having a major effect on runtime.