Record-breaking pre-orders. Lines forming a week in advance. Launch-day euphoria. Supply shortages. Pre-order delays. Panic. Record-breaking opening weekend sales. Doubt. Problems and complaints. A mini-scandal or two. Apologies. Those are the makings of an Apple(AAPL) device launch.
I've spent the past month using Apple's new iPhone 5, measuring it against both the competition and its predecessors. The device is certainly not without flaws -- "Scuffgate" and "Mapsgate" proved that -- but is the new iPhone 5 really "the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone," as Apple claims?
Let's start with the brand-new design.
From an aesthetic perspective, the original iPhone was always my favorite. I was not happy when Apple moved away from aluminum and used plastic on the iPhone 3G and 3GS. The iPhone 4 and 4S shifted back in the right direction by dumping cheap-feeling plastics in favor of glass and metal, but I still missed the original iPhone's sleek aluminum housing.
Apple returned to its roots for the iPhone 5. The phone's face is still a solid sheet of glass, but the back is now mostly aluminum, just like on the original model.
The new aluminum is much thinner, making for a surprisingly light handset. Almost too light. I prefer a phone with some heft to it, and the new iPhone took a bit of getting used to, compared to heavier recent devices like the iPhone 4S, Droid Incredible 4G LTE and Lumia 900.
In terms of build, the iPhone 5 is in a class by itself. From the oleophobic glass face to the matte metal bezel with polished edges, everything about the new iPhone screams high-end. The parts are snug, the lines are elegant, the buttons don't wobble, and there are no rattles or creaks whatsoever.