Apple iPhone 5 review

Aside from some 4G limitations, the iPhone 5 remains a great phone, and a better one than the 5C that replaced it

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iOS 6, 4.0in 1,136x640 display


A thinner case has meant that Apple has had to redesign the lens and sensor for the iPhone 5, although it still has the same 8-megapixel resolution as the iPhone 4S. There's little difference in practice between the two models, as you can see from our detail shots below.

As with the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 has one of the best smartphone cameras. Shots are bright, vibrant and very detailed. For most purposes, you can happily use your phone rather than a compact camera.

Apple iPhone 5 detail shot
Apple iPhone 5 iPhone 4S detail shot

The iPhone 5 (top) has the same excellent image quality as on the iPhone 4S (bottom)

Taking the camera down to our still-life with controlled lighting, we saw similar results under bright lighting. Here, everything was well exposed and there's plenty of detail in the picture, right down to the reflected fur in the metallic fan. There's very little noise, too.

Apple iPhone 5 camera full brightness

Under bright lighting, the iPhone 5's shots are detailed and well exposed

Dropping the brightness levels a little, we found that the camera's shots still had plenty of detail in the fur of our toy animals, although we lost some detail in the darker parts of the image. Noise starts to creep in, too, with the background not quite as clean as under bright lighting. However, there's still plenty to like here.

Apple iPhone 5 camera medium brightness

Under darker lighting you lose some detail in the darker parts of the image, but there's still plenty of detail

Switching to low-light, we weren't so impressed by the results. The shot is very noise and detail starts to disappear, too. In fact, it's quite hard to make out what's going on.

Apple iPhone 5 camera low light

In low-light the iPhone 5 loses quite a lot of the detail and picture is noisy

New to the iPhone 5 is a panorama mode. All you have to do is hold the phone steady and pan up to 270-degrees to create one massive image. It's very easy to use – just keep the arrow on the horizontal line – but you'll need to keep your hand steady to avoid any artefacts or odd blobs in the final image. When you use it properly, the final results can be stunning.

iPhone 5 panorama

Hold the phone steady and you can take some amazing panoramas easily


Video is shot at 1080p at 30fps, and the quality is generally excellent. Footage is detailed with punchy colours and it's easy to see why there's no need for Flip video cameras or the like any more. We've got footage of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 below, so you can compare the two.

The iPhone 5 shoots similar high-quality 1080p video to the iPhone 4S

We took the camera down to our still life set, too, to test it out in lab conditions. Under bright lighting we found that video was well exposed with plenty of detail and punchy colours. Under low-light, we found that the iPhone 5 struggled a little and the image soon became noisy. We also found that there were some strange artefacts where the lights in our fans reflected on the lens, causing odd patterns of colours.

Apple iPhone 5 video still

Some odd coloured patterns were picked up (see right-hand side of the screenshot)

Aside from the low-light performance, the iPhone 5's video mode is still one of the best and you can make do with this phone when you need to take some impromptu video. You can watch the full video below.

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