Another awesome slice from Apple

It's thinner, lighter and better in every aspect. It's difficult not to love it.

On Nov 2, Apple and its mobile carrier partners launched the new iPhone 5 in Thailand. Thousands of people gathered in shopping centres hoping to be among the first to get their hands on one.

Since the iPhone 4S offered only minor updates, we have all been waiting for a redesigned model and Apple hasn't disappointed us.

What are the differences between a 4S and a 5? Firstly, when you hold it in your hand, you will quickly notice its lightness (in fact 16% lighter than the 4S) despite the new 4-inch screen that should make it heavier. Next, Apple also changed the old 25-pin dock connector to a new smaller "Lightning" connector. And, of course, repositioned the headphone jack to the bottom.

All previous iPhones had a 3.5-inch screen, while other brands quickly moved to much larger displays. So it is obvious that this time it's Apple's turn to change. So the iPhone got a taller screen, with a resolution of 1136 x 640 at the same 326ppi (Retina display). Now you can get an extra row of apps on the home screen.

Watching movies, playing games or browsing the web are the first three things that benefit from this new screen _ if your app is fully optimised for the iPhone 5. For the non-optimised app, "letterboxed" is what you will get (running apps in the centre with black bars on the top and bottom). This is Apple's way to maintain its software support on all iOS devices.

Another redesign that Apple made is the "Lightning" connector and the use of a "Nano" sim card. Both work just like the previous ones, but only smaller. Note you will have to purchase new accessories and a new sim card. I don't know why but my phone provider charged me 49 baht just for the card.

The internal specifications have been updated too. For instance, it now boasts a dual-core A6 chip, which is twice as fast as the A5 in the 4S and outperforms some quad-core CPUs used in Android phones as well. It's this hardware-software combination that makes it faster.

They also updated the front-facing camera to 720p. This is a jump from 0.3 to 1.2 megapixels, which is great for self portraits or snaps with your friends.

Although it is 4G capable, we still don't have that in Thailand. On the 3G network I can only get 2.1Mbps (tested on Truemove H) which is nowhere near its maximum capability of 42Mbps.

Let's move on to iOS 6. There have been a lot of complaints regarding its new Maps app, but if they can fix this issue, it is by far the easiest OS I have ever used.

Why doesn't the new Maps app work? To cut a long story short; they switched its database from Google to Apple. So somehow your road, soi or restaurant may have disappeared from Apple Maps. And no matter how great the 3D effects or flyover feature sound, there are only a few places that can use these, so for now say goodbye to those features in Thailand. Moreover, it isn't recommended if you're on 3G since it consumes a large amount of data.

Siri is smarter than before. It can answer more questions (such as movie show times and reviews and restaurant recommendations) but it doesn't have much information about Thailand or understand Thai. This also applies to the passbook app too, another good feature that Thai users have to say goodbye to.

A worthwhile feature of iOS6 is how easily you can shoot panoramic photos without any additional set up and can easily share via Facebook and Twitter right on the home screen. Also, FaceTime over 3G is now available, so you can make calls and see the other side.

If you've got an iPhone 4S, it's perfectly fine not to switch to the new iPhone. But if you use an older version, or you're an Android user, you literally cannot do better than this phone. It's awesome.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Sithikorn Wongwudthianun
Position: Producer