iPhone 5 Features, Release Date: 'iPhone A Winner, Best Camera We've Seen On A Smartphone' Says Consumer Reports
While the drama over Apple's new Maps app on the iPhone 5 has received almost more attention than the phone itself since its release on Sept. 21, today the company can breathe a sigh of relief. Consumer Reports, whose opinions on products are taken quite seriously by many, released a review of the iPhone 5 which calls the device "a winner."
In its review, Consumer Reports awarded the iPhone 5 with its coveted "recommended" designation. The report praised the smartphone's thinner, lighter frame and extra screen space. Reviewers noted that the improved specs do in fact put it well above much, if not all, of the competition. "The Apple iPhone 5 is among the best smart phones in our Ratings and the best iPhone yet, our completed tests confirm," says Consumer Reports' review.
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Consumer Reports continued, saying that the camera was "the best we've seen on a smartphone" apart from the Nokia 808 Pureview. "Excluding the phenomenal 41-megapixel camera we tested on the Nokia 808, the iPhone 5's 8-megapixel camera is the best we've seen on a smart phone. In the full battery of tests we give to smart-phone cameras, the iPhone 5's camera proved capable of capturing beautifully sharp and vibrant photos."
However, CR noted that the phone did not noticeably improve low-light quality over the iPhone 4S. "Our tests also found low-light performance and shutter speed to be on a par with the better smart-phone cameras," says CR. "However, contrary to Apple's claims, our tests did not find the iPhone 5's low-light and flash shots to be notably better than those from the iPhone 4S."
Apparently, Apple's claims about the iPhone 5's noise-canceling multiple microphones were similarly overstated. CR didn't think they affected call quality on either end.
"Apple's latest operating system, iOS 6 gave iPhone users a free feature long enjoyed by Android-phone users: GPS navigation with spoken turn-by-turn directions and automatic re-routing. The new Apple Maps app has drawn much criticism, and our initial impressions concluded that it fell short of the best third-party navigation apps."
CR concluded that despite the widespread criticism it has received, Apple's new Maps app, available on the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, is competent enough, even if it falls short of what's available for free on many other phones.
"Now that our auto experts have completed their tests, including some carried out some days after the launch, they describe the app as relatively streamlined, and concluded that it generally provides clear guidance, including voice and on-screen directions. However, they did find that it lacks the details, traffic data, and customization options offered by the free Google navigation app found on Android phones," said CR in the report.
The failure of Apple's maps app has been difficult to ignore.
Apple CEO Tim Cook even recently formally apologized for the app, saying the company was "extremely sorry" for the frustration its caused users.
Apple launched its brand new Maps app through the company's new upgrade of iOS 6 on Sept. 19. Not long after, users took to every corner of the Internet to sound their disapproval of virtually every element of the app, and utter confusion as to why Apple had chosen to make the switch.
Tech site T3 quickly noted that even with its aesthetically pleasing appearance, and some nice features, the functionality of Apple's Maps' search was reportedly "hit and miss in terms of finding London locations." Apparently, Apple's new app displays more road names than place names, and does away with color-coded roads, so, navigating to a specific point using pinch and zoom is much trickier.
Engadget thought the app wasn't nearly as comprehensive as Google's offerings on Android, but said the app's biggest drawback was its lack of public transportation directions, so if you haven't mastered the subway yet, you won't be getting any help from Maps.
And while asking for subway directions doesn't work particularly well, according to Engadget, the app actually does offer public transportation directions. However, if you choose that option it shoots you straight into the App Store with a search for "Routing Apps," a search that currently has zero results.
Apple Maps lacks the kind of detailed layering that you can apply in Google Maps and Google Navigation, and shows you whatever you want to see. Maps will list some important places of interest -- mostly gas stations and convenience shops -- but if you want to see all Italian restaurants on your route you'll have to dig deeper.
While Maps does show traffic, Engadget says it never saw it give a warning about traffic along a route currently being navigated.
Allthingsd said the app was a step backward from Google Maps. While Apple's maps feature a 3-D "Flyover" view of some central cities, they lack Google's very useful ground-level photographic street views. And while the site thought Apple's maps were accurate, they reportedly tend to default to a more zoomed-in view than Google's, making them look emptier until you zoom out.
Maps also reportedly lacks key details on prominent cities, and in one instance, an entire town was in the wrong location. Users also found duplicate islands and other bizarre quirks.
Even Google Maps designer Fred Gilbert who worked with Apple on the original Google Maps app for the first iPhone voiced his incredible disappointment with Apple Maps over Google+, saying "as one of the original designers of Google Mobile Maps I remember how difficult it was working with Apple. But this just blows my mind," according to seroundtable.com.
Apple is reportedly currently trying to lure ex-Google Maps staff to help improve its Maps app.
Apple iPhone 5 Specs
Height: 4.87 inches, Width: 2.31 inches, Depth: 0.30 inch, Weight: 3.95 ounces.
4-inch (diagonal) Retina display, 1136-by-640 resolution, 326 ppi, GSM model: GSM/EDGE, UMTS/HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, CDMA model: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n; 802.11n on 2.4GHz and 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS, 1GB RAM, SoC: A6 Chip, Nano-SIM, three-axis gyro, dual-mic noise suppression, assisted GPS and GLONASS.
Front and back facing cameras:
Front: 1.2MP photos, 720p HD video, Backside illumination sensor;
Back: 8 megapixel Autofocus Tap to focus, LED flash, Backside illumination sensor, Five-element lens, Face detection, Hybrid IR filter, ƒ/2.4 aperture, Panorama,
Video: 1080p HD video recording, 30 fps, Tap to focus while recording, LED light, Improved video stabilization, Take still photos while recording video, Face detection.