iPhone 5 features: everything you need to know

Who could ever have believed, at the time when Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone in 1876, that one day we would be walking around with so much power as this in our pockets?

The iPhone 5 isn’t simply a telephone. It’s the perfect portable address book, a peerless hand-held browser, and the handiest mobile music player rolled into one.

It’s no wonder, then, that Apple kept it under such tight wraps in the years it took to develop, and that each new model is shrouded in secrecy right through its development cycle (notwithstanding the leaks and reveals that led up to its unveiling).

The latest iOS 6 update introduced a new Maps application (although it failed to take off successfully), rationalised vouchers and tickets with Passbook, and syncs through iCloud. Here, we take a look at its most compelling features.

Web browser

Before the iPhone, the web had been presented on phones and mobile devices in three ways: Wap, RSS or its native format. The latter of these three choices, native format, in which pages were shown as they were designed yet rendered on the smaller screen, was rarely successful.

So, it must have been clear to Apple from the very first day its engineers sat down to plan the iPhone’s development that if it was to include a web browser people would actually want to use, then it would have to make something more efficient, more impressive and far more usable than anything that had gone before it.

In short, it would have to display fullsized web pages on a tiny screen in their original format in such a way that it would seem they had been designed for just that format.


Apple achieved this in two ways. First, it gave the iPhone a truly massive resolution, so that even when shrunk down you would still be able to read headings and body text on most web pages.

This resolution was enhanced with the arrival of the iPhone 4, which adopted a retina display in which the individual pixels were too small to be detected by the naked eye. In the iPhone 5 it’s still 640 pixels wide, but now over 1000 pixels tall thanks to the larger physical screen.

Second, it let you tap to selectively zoom in and out on the sections of a page that you want to read in more detail. This has been achieved in a more intelligent way than you might imagine, as it’s not a dumb enlargement, but an accurate zoom to mazimise the screen space given to specific elements such as images or columns of text.

The result was a browser that offered the best of both worlds, taking the tried and tested piecemeal peck and pan approach of its predecessors and supplementing it with the far superior overview mode of a desktop computer that fits the whole width of a page in the window.

Email client

It’s not so long ago that the only practical way to keep up with your email on the move was to buy a BlackBerry Messenger. It took all of the responsibility for managing your mail our of your hands, delivering it as soon as it was received by the server.


The iPhone does the same with iCloud’s @me.com addresses, and those from a range of third-party providers. What does this mean for you? Quite simply, simplicity. Push takes all the hassle out of mobile email, because the messages come to you and can be dealt with as soon and as often as you like. And because the email is stored on Apple’s servers you can access it from any device in any location. This means that any email you mark as read on your Mac or PC will also be marked as read on your iPhone, and any email you send while you’re out and about will also appear in the sent items folder on your computer.

As well as iCloud, the iPhone can connect to a host of other services including Yahoo mail, Gmail and regular Pop3 and IMAP services. For business users, it also works happily with Microsoft Exchange servers, which are common in enterprise set-ups.

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