Apple iPhone 5 Review: CPU, GPU, Battery, Wi-Fi, And Display Testing

Apple's A6-powered iPhone 5 gets the Tom's Hardware treatment as we benchmark its twin processing cores, its triple-core graphics engine, and its more vibrant display. Battery life testing and Wi-Fi performance measurements round out our analysis.

There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Apple hitting you up for another several hundred dollars to upgrade your cell phone. It's an event we've all come to expect, and it's always accompanied by speculation before and analysis after the company lifts its kimono.

The iPhone's technological progression has been fairly evolutionary. Over the past three years, the device hasn't really changed dramatically. Perhaps that makes the iPhone 5 more interesting than models past.

Comparison
Size (H x W x D)
Weight
Apple iPhone 4S
115.2 mm x 58.66 mm x 9.3 mm 140 g
Apple iPhone 5
123.8 mm x 58.6 mm x 7.6 mm112 g
Samsung Galaxy S3
136.6 mm x 70.6 mm x 8.6 mm133 g
HTC One X
134.4 mm x 69.9 mm x 8.9 mm 130 g


It is different inside and out. Perhaps that's just the nature of the smartphone business. We expect our phones to get smaller, thinner, and lighter. We haven't seen an iPhone do those things since the iPhone 4. Even then, though, Apple didn't make any dramatic changes.

The iPhone 5, on the other hand, actually looks like a different product. It’s still unmistakably an iPhone. But while the power and volume buttons, along with the vibrate toggle, are in their familiar locations, the iPhone 5 is taller than the iPhone 4S, along with thinner and lighter. The change in dimensions was made to accommodate a larger 4" LCD screen, up from 3.5". As a result, this is Apple's first phone with a native 16:9 aspect ratio. Its 1136x640 resolution is higher than the previous generation's 960x640.

What you really feel when you pick the iPhone 5 up, however, is the device's lighter weight. At only 112 g, Apple shaved off 20% of the iPhone 4S's bulk. In and of itself, that's not really a reason to buy a new phone, of course, but it's a significant achievement nevertheless.

The iPhone 4S sandwiches its internals between two aluminosilicate glass panels. The iPhone 5 achieves its thinner and lighter specifications, at least in part, through the use of an aluminum body.

In the days following the iPhone 5's retail introduction, though, many customers complained about how easy it is to chip the aluminum chassis' paint. According to Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, Phil Schiller, “Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color. That is normal.” Truly, only Apple would have the stones to try calling its chipping paint normal wear. Proving how much more fragile the iPhone 5's body really is, our friends at iFixit even did a video where a two-year-old helped scrape quite a bit of paint from the device's back panel.

Source: DesignMindSource: DesignMind

A few years ago, Steve Jobs remarked that “I think stainless steel looks beautiful when it wears.” Presumably, he was referring to patina, the tell-tale sign of use or oxidation that accumulates on certain metals. Silverware, for example, starts out really shiny, but takes on a warm, muted appearance over time. If you’re shopping for antiques, this is something that actually valued. If you still own a first-generation iPhone, it probably looks something like the picture above. The hard-anodized surface may have worn off, but fine surface scratches create a patina finish.

It takes years for this to happen, though, requiring repeated daily use. If you replace your phone every time you're eligible for an upgrade, you'll never see it. So, while Apple’s decision to paint its aluminum body is theoretically sound, we're concerned about how easily the iPhone 5 is scratched. Obviously, the solution is going to be to buy a case, though taking that step wasn't nearly as necessary before as it is now.

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    Top Comments
  • Why can't everyone - Apple included - agree on a standardized power adapter like mini USB?? It would make not only our lives easier but the manufacturers who make these accessories able to have one device and on cord that works with everything.
    33
  • kensingtronGreat article ^_^Second to last paragraph:"For example, Samsung's Galaxy S III has been on the market for a while, and its LCD is a market leader"LCD = AMOLED


    My apologies. On page 6 we mentioned that S3 uses AMOLED. I'll make a correction. Thanks for the shout out.
    14
  • $30 for an adapter........

    Pffffffwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha......HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhohohohohohohohohohoooo...
    14
  • Other Comments
  • Great GPU performance. Apple/PowerVR consistently beat the competition in this.
    3
  • Why can't everyone - Apple included - agree on a standardized power adapter like mini USB?? It would make not only our lives easier but the manufacturers who make these accessories able to have one device and on cord that works with everything.
    33
  • The LCD tests puzzle me a little. Most other reviews said that the SGS3 has a poorer display and the iphone5 has a better display , with much better contrast ratio and sRGB compliance.

    Maybe i am reading it wrong ?
    -6
  • There needs to be more explanation in the quality of the screens. We all know Galaxy SIII covers a larger colour gamut, but does it beat the iPhone 5 in terms of accuracy is one big thing we want to know based on your eyes, not numbers and graphs.
    7
  • Great article ^_^

    Second to last paragraph:
    "For example, Samsung's Galaxy S III has been on the market for a while, and its LCD is a market leader"

    LCD = AMOLED
    9
  • kensingtronGreat article ^_^Second to last paragraph:"For example, Samsung's Galaxy S III has been on the market for a while, and its LCD is a market leader"LCD = AMOLED


    My apologies. On page 6 we mentioned that S3 uses AMOLED. I'll make a correction. Thanks for the shout out.
    14
  • Excellent article as usual, very comprehensive. Hopefully this helps to dispel some of the performance myths about the iPhone that seem to circulate here on Tom's.
    7
  • mayankleoboy1The LCD tests puzzle me a little. Most other reviews said that the SGS3 has a poorer display and the iphone5 has a better display , with much better contrast ratio and sRGB compliance.Maybe i am reading it wrong ?


    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57524291-37/color-me-prettier-galaxy-s3-display-outdoes-iphone-5s/ Check that one out. :)

    I'd still like to add an accuracy test at some point. I need to think about how to approach that problem. The way people normally talk about color accuracy (besides deltae and gamma) are sometimes too abstract with color terms that professionals use. I'd like to find a way to present the information in a more intuitive manner.
    3
  • g-unit1111Why can't everyone - Apple included - agree on a standardized power adapter like mini USB?? It would make not only our lives easier but the manufacturers who make these accessories able to have one device and on cord that works with everything.

    Agreed...though don't most smartphones today use the microUSB B-type connector?
    5
  • Seems apple has not inovated for a couple of years now. I´m shocked that the most inovative and arguably the best phone of the year is not even mentioned in this article. Nokia Lumia 920 is definitely the most inovative na the most complete phone reseased so far. It has much better build quality, a better screen and camera than the iphone 5, not to mention a much more inovative OS.
    1
  • "The iPhone just doesn't have the magical hold on the smartphone market that it once did."
    yeah and there are more better options out there...
    8
  • $30 for an adapter........

    Pffffffwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha......HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhohohohohohohohohohoooo...
    14
  • mayankleoboy1Great GPU performance. Apple/PowerVR consistently beat the competition in this.

    True. The low resolutions do help the iphones though. Wish android manufacturers used PowerVR GPUs.
    Instead we get crappy Tegra chips that are not good at anything other than marketing hype.
    If nvidia f***s up gpu performance and memory bandwidth again in Tegra 4, I'm going to stay away form tablets powered by it.

    I'm looking forward to the next samsung galaxy device w/ ARM A15 and Mali600. hopefully the display won't be PenTile.
    3
  • That weak-@$$ soft alumiinum body should be tested too. That's a particularly sore spot for me. So much for Apple's nice build quality that the iPhone 4 had. "Handle with care." Everyone is not me so everyone doesn't handle their belongings with care.
    7
  • merikafyeah$30 for an adapter........Pffffffwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha......HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhohohohohohohohohohoooo...


    You clearly don't understand what the lightning adapter is. Its something in a different league then your 15 year old USB plug.

    Each pin is programmable. There is a small processor on each cord. This is genius since the same cable can be used in many different ways. Great technology cost money, or use 15 year old USB.
    -10
  • g-unit1111Why can't everyone - Apple included - agree on a standardized power adapter like mini USB?? It would make not only our lives easier but the manufacturers who make these accessories able to have one device and on cord that works with everything.


    No. Why compromise?
    USB is to limited. To low voltage. Cant do anything beside send data. Its better with a programmable interface that can be used with a bunch of assessors. Its actually ballsy that Apple continues to push the envelope. Just the simple thing that you can put in the adapter any way you want is huge.
    -16
  • dare2blinkSeems apple has not inovated for a couple of years now. I´m shocked that the most inovative and arguably the best phone of the year is not even mentioned in this article. Nokia Lumia 920 is definitely the most inovative na the most complete phone reseased so far. It has much better build quality, a better screen and camera than the iphone 5, not to mention a much more inovative OS.


    Hint: Lumia 920 uses almost 2 year old technique and weights over 60% more then iPhone5. Its CPU is 50% slower. GPU 60%+ slower. The hardware is dictated by Microsoft. Nokia can't/don't do anything.
    Lumia is hyped by tech nerds who haven't used GalaxyS3/iPhone5.

    But:
    There are only 3 phones that people should consider buying:
    iPhone5
    GalaxyS3
    and
    Lumia920.

    People who loves integration = iPhone
    People who loves openness/fragmentation = GalaxyS3
    People who loves photography = Lumia 920.

    The sad thing is that we have to many MSFTdrones and Fandroids.
    -11
  • shompaNo. Why compromise? USB is to limited. To low voltage. Cant do anything beside send data. Its better with a programmable interface that can be used with a bunch of assessors. Its actually ballsy that Apple continues to push the envelope. Just the simple thing that you can put in the adapter any way you want is huge.


    I believe both lightning and USB carry power at 5V. If you can show me a source that says otherwise; that they have an internal stepup/stepdown DC-DC converter; I would be quite surprised.

    USB is a programmable interface. It can be set to a variety of modes, for things like bulk transfer (data), interrupt (guaranteed quick responses; eg keyboards), and isochronous (guaranteed data; eg webcams). These could be, and are, expanded to other purposes such as audio etc.

    Besides; all lightning does is send data. What else does it do that is not data (or power)? Audio is data, files are data, control signals are data. The only upside is that you can put it in both ways, but I prefer compatibility. The number of microUSB cables in my house is uncountable, but I could count on the fingers of one amputated hand (ie none) how many 30pin/lightning cables I have.

    By the way; I assume you think we can never have too many iSheep? Personally I prefer Android, as you can change a whole lot more about it, and the hardware has reached the point where (imo) it's significantly better. And cheaper.
    7
  • I love how you ignore Lumia 920 totally in your reviews.
    5
  • Just ran a test on my stock Samsung Galaxy Note II Scored a 2067 all stock. Username is Tripneye to see the results on geekbench
    3