Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - MOBILES - BY ASHISH BHA­TIA

For some, the best just got bet­ter. The sixth avatar of the iPhone looks slim­mer, slicker, slighter and more svelte and ele­gant than ever be­fore. Tip­ping the scales at just 112 gm and a mere 0.3 inches thick, the lat­est iPhone with its largely alu­minium rear panel feels in­cred­i­bly light but pos­i­tively solid. And it is any­thing but pla­s­ticky.

The stretched 4-inch de­sign of this tall boy—which al­lows an ex­tra row of icons on the screen—makes it eas­ier to grip and more us­able with one hand. In the hor­i­zon­tal mode, the new screen has a 16:9 asthus Oh yes, the iPhone 5 runs dis­cern­ably faster. At its heart is a new A6 dual-core pro­ces­sor from Ap­ple, tick­ing at 1.2GHz, which is nearly dou­ble the speed of what lies em­bed­ded in iPhone 4S. The larger 4-inch means that 18 per cent more pix­els have been crammed in to give a 1136x640p res­o­lu­tion to the eye-pop­ping Retina dis­play with 326 pix­els per inch den­sity.

The good thing is that bat­tery life re­mains un­af­fected (8 hours of talk time; 8 hours of 3G brows­ing) and eas­ily lasts you through the day—pretty much out­last­ing most An­droid phones out there. There is an au­di­ble im­prove­ment in the voice and au­dio qual­ity—in calls made and re­ceived as well on the speaker—both in terms of clar­ity and loud­ness. The new Ear­Pod head­phones— though far from the ul­ti­mate—are way bet­ter than their pre­vi­ous avatars. Apart from a far more com­fort­able fit in the ear, they of­fer more thump on the bass front.

While the cam­era on the iPhone 5 re­mains 8 megapixel—and a de­light to shoot with dur­ing the day—it now of­fers ex­cel­lent low-light imag­ing abil­i­ties for a smart­phone cam. And the Panorama shoot­ing func­tion­al­ity stitches up the fields seam­less and beau­ti­fully, even in dim light­ing con­di­tions.

The new and im­proved iOS 6 soft­ware up­date en­sures that it has the same DNA as the pre­vi­ous iPhones. While An­droid has grown by leaps and bounds and in sev­eral in­stances now sur­passes the more se­date iOS, the coders at Cu­per­tino have packed and pol­ished enough to keep the op­er­at­ing sys­tem at the lead­ing edge.

New call re­sponse op­tions, a Do Not Dis­turb fea­ture, Face­Time call­ing over cel­lu­lar, Face­Book in­te­gra­tion, in­di­vid­ual sig­na­tures for dif­fer­ent mail ac­counts, and a VIP in­box for email are the pri­mary im­prove­ments.

By far the big­gest downer for all and sundry are the iOS 6 Maps. By now the stuff of many spoofs and less than ob­jec­tive au­top­sies, this is an area where Ap­ple has un­de­ni­ably blun­dered and bun­gled. And there seems no im­me­di­ate suc­cor in sight for now, other than turn­ing to Google Maps or Nokia Here.

In terms of in­ter­face, naysay­ers find the still very mute icons—as com­pared to An­droid’s info-at-a-glance wid­gets and Win­dows live tiles--static and bor­ing. While it re­tains its perch as the bench­mark for smart­phone de­sign and the dura­bil­ity of the alu­minum rear (com­bined with the Go­rilla Glass front) gives it the abil­ity to ab­sorb shocks and knocks bet­ter, com­plaints of scratches and scruffs to the body paint coat­ing have been heard.

Yet, all-in-all, the iPhone cult en­dures… For the Ap­ple afi­cionado and iPhone idolater there is enough and more than enough in­no­va­tion and im­prove­ment in here to draw ap­plause, even in­stant grins and wows. Even hard­core An­droid fans grudg­ingly grunt their ap­proval at this one. It re­sets the bar in terms of hard­ware de­sign.

The iPhone 5 comes in ei­ther white and sil­ver or black and slate. And just as it doesn’t feel cheap, it doesn’t come cheap.

The ` 45,500 (16GB), ` 52,500 (32GB), and ` 59,500 (64GB) price tags make you gasp and gulp. That’s a lot of bucks for this bang.

But if you want the most evolved and re­fined phone out there right now—and one that of­fers unar­guably the best cache of fine spun apps—you’ve got to shell out the shillings. If you have ex­tra moolah stashed in your bank, it may be well worth the mon­e­tary set­back to pick this first among equals.

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