The phone itself doesn’t feel too much different than the iPhone 4 and 4S; yes, it’s a bit taller, but by keeping the width the same, you’ll utilize a very familiar grasp to hold it.
In typical Apple fashion, even the finest details have been worked over tirelessly. The metal feels downright elegant to the touch, and the same line we’ve said time and time again applies here: there’s no doubting the premium fit and finish when you clutch one of these things.
Gripping it, your thumb is able to navigate the full length of the display without stretching, just as promised, and while it’s undoubtedly a light handset it doesn’t feel delicate. We loved the Retina Display in the iPhone 4/4S, but the iPhone 5 trumps both: it looks somehow crisper and cleaner, and it’s bright, even under the lights of Apple’s demo area. The anti-glare coating certainly helps there.
The biggest change, literally, is the larger screen. Here, I’m thankful that Apple opted not to go wider. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 is too big for my taste and I think Apple is right to say that the width of the iPhone is right for the average hand. The taller screen means more apps in view, more web page to look at and full widescreen movies but doesn’t sacrifice comfort.
The screen is the real draw here and I’m really interested to see how it improves the experience in real-world conditions. Obviously you’re getting just a bit more real estate and the Lightning connector allows for far more room for battery and processor. Again, it’s far too early to tell right now, but if you’re looking for something in the sweet spot between monsters like the Galaxy S III and the arguably bordering-on-too-small (at this point) iPhone 4, this may be a good compromise.
Build quality is quite nice and the solid aluminum is quite unique and quite solid. Hopefully this will reduce some damage if it falls on a hard surface.
The 7.6mm, 112-gram chassis is incredibly sleek, and exceptionally light… it feels almost too light in the hand. This isn’t just in comparison to the relatively heavy iPhone 4S — sure, the iPhone 5 may not be the thinnest phone out there as Apple claims — but this feels incredibly light against smartphones in general.
The iPhone 5 is still a sturdy and solid-feeling device, despite the weight loss. The back is primarily a slab of machined aluminum — as are the sides — but just as we saw in the leaks there are two strips of glass along the top and bottom of the device. These strips feel identical to the glass that drapes over the entire face of the device.