The iPhone 5 is here

2 million people have pre-ordered an iPhone 5

front and rear photos of iPhone 5According to the BBC, Apple have received orders (or, as they call them these days, “Pre-orders”) for 2 million of the new iPhone 5. Considering that they cost up to £699, that’s an awful lot of faith (up to £1.4 billion worth) that an awful lot of people have put into a product that no-one had seen before this week.

Is it worth getting worked up about? Probably not, unless you are what is disparagingly called an “Apple Fanboy”. An Apple Fanboy is the sort of person who camps out in Covent Garden outside the Apple shop so that he (and it usually is a “he”) is first in line to part with his cash when a new – and unproven – product is launched.

Anyway, assuming that you are just a normal human being who likes iPhones, is there any need to be checking how soon you can upgrade your phone? What does the iPhone 5 have to offer?

4G – this is the term being used for the latest method of “mobile broadband”. In rough terms, it’s going to deliver internet download speeds up to 5 times as fast as existing mobile broadband. This will undoubtedly be a good thing – especially if you like to download things like videos. However, I suspect that most people (or, to be more accurate, most people over a certain age) just can’t be bothered messing around with a phone so that they can watch a film on a tiny screen during the tube journey home. So, faster broadband is good, but hardly a life changer. Moreover, it’s only T-mobile / Orange who can currently offer 4G. There’s no doubt, though, that as 4G speeds become more commonly available then more sophisticated and data-hungry applications will be written that can take advantage of the increased speed. This will then increase the value of having a phone that can deliver such speeds.

Larger Screen – the screen is taller than that on the iPhone 4 (4 inches compared with the previous 3.5 inches). However, it is the same width so if, like me, you find the weakest aspect of the iPhone to be the tiny, imprecise touch keyboard, then the new phone won’t be any better when held upright, but may be better in “landscape mode” (turned sideways). The screen’s resolution is the same as the iPhone 4.

iPhone 5 Lightning Connector
The new “Lightning” connector
The phone is slightly lighter and slightly thinner than previous versions. One of the ways this has been achieved is that the previous 30-pin cable connector has been replaced with a smaller one that, for some reason, Apple are calling “lightning”. So, your existing cables and accessories won’t fit it unless you cough up £25 for an adaptor. I’ve just confirmed that you can buy brand new mobile phones for much less than the price of Apple’s cable adaptor – see the Samsung E1080 Black here, for instance.

iPhone 30-pin connector
The familiar cable connector on iPhones prior to iPhone 5
The SIM card is also smaller than current ones, so there’s no way you can just buy a new iPhone “off contract” and slot your old SIM card into it: you will need the co-operation of your mobile provider to change over to using an iPhone 5. This new card is called a “nano SIM”.

The prices are a little eye-watering – £529 for the 16gb version, £599 for the 32gb, and £699 for the 64gb version. These are, of course, the prices for buying the phone outright. You then need a contract to get the phone service. I can’t yet find a price for a plan when the phone has been bought off-contract, but here are some of T-mobile’s prices for providing the phone with a monthly plan over two years:

32gb version – £99 for the phone plus £46 per month for 24 months = total £1203 over 2 years (just over £50 per month)
64gb version – £189 for the phone plus £46 per month for 24 months = total £1293 over 2 years (nearly £54 per month)

Compare this with T-mobile’s cheapest monthly contract for an iPhone (the iPhone 3gs with 8gb memory, and with a more restricted data and voice plan):

Free phone plus £21 per month for 24 months = £504 over 2 years (£21 per month)

iPhone Connector Adaptor
The adaptor for earlier accessories costs £25. You can buy entire mobile phones for less.
Note that I’ve not included the current iPhone (version 4) in this comparison. I’ve just compared the oldest and cheapest model with the newest and most expensive. Is it worth paying two and a half times as much for the newest compared with the oldest? Plenty of people are going to think so.

T-mobile’s iPhone Monthly Contracts can be viewed by clicking here

Click here for more blurb from Apple about the iPhone 5

(Last updated 08/09/2023)