¶ Five

The original iPhone fundamentally changed the way we think about phones. And not just cell phones — all phones. I’d even go so far to say the iPhone changed how we think about computers in general. Just look at how iPhone-like OS X has become over the past five years.

The iPhone changed how we interact with computers and devices, touching our content directly rather than abstractly using a cursor. It made the things of science fiction become science fact. The iPhone, thanks to being a monolithic slab of glass, literally becomes whatever is displayed on the screen. It becomes a communication device. It becomes a source of information. It becomes a compass, a level, a video editor, an assortment of instruments, a photo album, and any number of insanely imaginable things. It becomes the portal with which we are connected to people all over the world.

Undoubtedly, the iPhone fundamentally changed everything.

The iPhone 5 fundamentally changes the way we think about the iPhone.

If the iPhone of yesteryear becomes whatever is on its screen and is a portal to connecting us with the world, and the iPhone 5 is the first iPhone to change the size of that portal — even by a half of an inch — that is a significant, fundamental change that forever changes what the future of the iPhone will be.

We’re already starting to see it reflected in the App Store. Most developers are simply expanding their apps’ content area to fill up the screen. But some developers are rethinking how their app looks and works with that extra space.

Apps like CNN and Dark Sky have embraced new layouts on the iPhone 5. The interaction model hasn’t greatly changed, but there is more room for the imagination to consider how to make the best app for a new generation of devices.

I’ve read many articles saying the iPhone 5 is simply “more of the same” and that it isn’t revolutionary. Honestly, on first blush, it is absolutely an iteration. But if the people making the apps we love allow their imaginations to drift a little further, I believe a whole new breed of amazing ideas will come to fruition.

I began by talking about the original iPhone. I remember my first time using one in an Apple Store in Seattle, just a couple weeks after it launched. It was remarkably beautiful. That design was amazing, and I loved the metal back.

The next year, when I was able to get an iPhone, I was sad to see the metal back exchanged in favor of plastic on the iPhone 3G. A little bit of the feeling of luxury had been taken away. Two years later, with the iPhone 4, the luxury was back, better than ever, with the all-glass design and the metal band.

The iPhone 4 was amazing. But I did still miss the original iPhone’s style from the brief moments I spent trying one. Those moments had really stuck in my mind.

The iPhone 5 feels like the perfect marriage of the best of the original iPhone and the best of the iPhone 4. Everything about the physical feel of the iPhone 5 is unbelievable. It is incredibly thin. So thin that you may, at first, think it could easily be snapped in half. Yet the metal unibody structure contradicts that notion.

But what really seems impossible is the lightness.

I can’t get over the lightness.

The iPhone 5 is so light that when I took it out of the box it felt like a hollow shell. Yet every part of it doesn’t feel like something that was assembled. It really feels like it is one solid piece — that it was always just the finished form. Far and away, I have never owned anything made with this level of precision.

Cameras are precision instruments. I cannot believe how complex the lenses are to my Canon 40D. Even the 40D itself is a product of precision.

And I love taking pictures. I don’t use the 40D as much as I’d like. With a young child, it is often difficult to wield a large, bulky camera everywhere we go.

With the iPhone 4, it felt like the camera in the iPhone finally became something serious. Its photos were comparable to many point & shoot cameras — sometimes better. It was at this time I started taking more pictures with my iPhone than a traditional camera.

The iPhone 5 camera is shockingly good. It performs an order of magnitude better in low-light. It captures quickly, is sharper, and the colors come out better (even under those awful fluorescent lights).

Face detection is fantastic for focusing quickly on my son, who can never seem to sit still for more than a few seconds.

My favorite feature is the panorama mode. It is ridiculously easy to do. What impresses me the most is that as soon as I’m done capturing the pano, it is ready to be viewed. There is zero additional processing time, unlike taking an HDR. And they look incredible.

They say the best camera is the one you have with you. One of the things I look forward to with each iPhone I’ve had, more than anything, is the improvements to the camera.

I doubt an iPhone will ever replace the quality of shots I can get from my DSLR, but for my iPhone being the camera that is always with me, I have every confidence that the quality of the photos on the iPhone 5 can stand the test of time.

There is simply no better device out there right now that you could spend your money on. The iPhone 5 is the most well-made, beautiful, and functional item I have ever purchased.

There is not a doubt in my mind that if you are in need of a phone that is more than a phone — but also an excellent camera and a multitude of anything imaginable thanks to the imagination of people’s apps — that you should get the iPhone 5.