Apple iPhone 5 review

5 Dec 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

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


iOS 6, 4.0in 1,136x640 display


If anything's missing from the iPhone 5, it's NFC. This technology has been in several Android handsets, but Apple so far hasn't bothered with it. We don't see this as a massive problem at the moment, as there isn't the infrastructure to use it, but it's still a slightly surprising omission.

Apple iPhone 5

Thin and powerful the iPhone 5 is a great handset

Overall, the iPhone 5 is a great bit of work. It's brilliantly made, and very fast with the an incredibly responsive mobile operating system. While previous iterations have been way ahead of the competition, the iPhone 5 just doesn't maintain the gap. In particular, Maps is a big step backwards, while iOS 6 feels more like a tweak than a genuine step forwards.

The biggest threat to the iPhone 5 is that the competition has gotten a lot better and it's cheaper: the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTX One X have similar features and both are free on a contract.

Don't get us wrong, the iPhone 5 is still a brilliant handset and iOS is still incredibly easy and smooth to use, it's just that the poor Maps app and comparatively high price mean that this model just misses out on an award.


Although Apple has now withdrawn the iPhone 5 from sale, replacing it with the iPhone 5C, there are still plenty of second-hand models out there, so is the phone still worth buying?

Our problem with the iPhone 5C was that it was basically an iPhone 5 in a plastic case. The 5C is also on sale at around the same price the iPhone 5 would have been reduced to, if Apple had continued with it, when the iPhone 5S was released. Both the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5 have the same screen, the same choice of storage options and the same processor.

The differences come down to build quality. While Apple has done a brilliant job with the iPhone 5C, making the plastic feel premium, the metal construction of the iPhone 5 is still a lot better. The iPhone 5 is also lighter and thinner than its replacement.

One big difference is in 4G support: the iPhone 5 will work on EE's network only for the faster wireless data speeds, but the iPhone 5C will work on every UK 4G network. If 4G is a priority for you and you're no on EE, then the iPhone 5C is your only choice, assuming you don't want to pay more for the iPhone 5S.

For everyone else, it's not so clear cut. If you want the full manufacturer's warranty and a brand-new phone, you should buy the iPhone 5C; if that doesn't bother you so much, you should be able to pick up a bargain second-hand iPhone 5 instead.

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