Spec: 8MP iSight camera, 4-inch Retina display, Bluetooth 4.0 Wi-Fi
The ubiquity of the iPhone tends to transcend any criticisms - for example the fact that with its flattened (rather than sloping) edges it's not the most comfortable handset to hold in the palm - while also enabling Apple to modestly claim the device houses 'the world's most popular camera.'
This latest aluminium iteration with ceramic glass inlays also claims to be the thinnest and lightest version to date. The iPhone 5 comes with an 8 megapixel iSight camera located towards a top edge at the back (which is exactly where fingertips tend to stray), which is supposedly protected against scratches by what Apple claims is sapphire crystal.
The wow factor lies in a visibly bright 4-inch Retina screen at the front, offering a 1136 x 640 pixel display, though it is in fact narrower than all but the Nokia 808 among its rivals here.
Powered by Apple's iOS 6, camera features such as a dynamic low light mode plus a really quite successful 240-degree panorama option, which creates a single elongated image comprised of up to 28 megapixels in total, are onboard.
Speed of photo capture - often sluggish on handsets when compared to dedicated cameras, which is why indoor stills are often blurred - is said to have been improved by 40% over the iPhone 4S.
Also borrowed from compact snapshot cameras is face detection for up to 10 frozen smiles in a single frame, 'tap screen to focus' functionality, plus 1920 x 1080p video clips at up to 30fps.
A photo can be captured in the middle of shooting a video sequence, and a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera is onboard for video conferencing (720p at up to 30fps). An LED flash is provided for scenarios for when it's too dark to take a shot without.
Seeming to tick the proverbial boxes then, on the iPhone 5, as with others here, the camera function is presented as an app instantly accessed via a finger tap.
We enjoyed the fact that this provides you with digital camera-type options, such as overlaying the screen with a nine zone grid effect to practice your rule of thirds.
Or deploying HDR mode to ensure more even exposures if you are presented with a trickier scenario that has both bags of shadow detail and highlights that you want to capture. To achieve this, the standard three shots are taken in quick succession and then automatically blended.
As we already mentioned, we also get the popular panorama shooting mode also found on most current compact cameras, with the ability to pan either left to right or vice versa through your scene. You watch the image gradually build as you pan until a single elongated shot (inevitably a bigger file size - around 4MB - than a standard 2MB snap) is produced and saved.
Flash options here are limited to either auto/on/off - so we miss out on red eye reduction (though it can be removed via one of the provided image editing options) or slow synch options found on digital cameras proper.
We did enjoy the fact that a simple tap of the camera icon at the top-right of the screen alternates between the front-facing camera and the higher resolution one at the rear, making self-portraits a cinch - as seen on other cameras here.
Similarly, a slider switch at the bottom-right of the screen enables you to swap effortlessly between stills or video capture - a familiar red record button appearing centre stage in the latter mode, as with the others here. So use is intuitive - something at which Apple has always excelled.
To get straight down to the business of capturing a photo, a tap of the camera icon at the bottom-right of the screen takes a snap accompanied by the sampled sound of a shutter firing. The volume buttons on the phone's side can also be used as twin shutter releases when in camera mode.
Similarly impressive is the fact that a shot is taken with very little shutter lag - meaning the time between pressing the button and the device actually taking the shot is tiny. This meant that we were more likely to achieve the image we saw in our mind's eye before taking the picture.
Editing functions are pretty limited - to being able to crop, rotate, auto enhance or remove red eye, but of course there are a plethora of downloadable camera and image editing apps if you want to do more.
While the process of taking an image is simple, getting said image off the iPhone 5 involves a number of routes, since there's no removable media card provided here. So it's either emailing it to yourself, going the social media route and posting it on Facebook, or better still automatically saving all your new images to Dropbox.
Images taken under tungsten light are disappointingly grainy, and while Apple may claim that the iPhone's little lens is the most popular camera in the world, even compared with a lower-to-mid-range point and shoot camera it's far from the best.
Another thing to mention is that the positioning of the iPhone's lens - over in one corner of the handset, again means that it is easy for finger tips to stray in front, simply in the process of handling the phone.
Coupled with this, you can't control ISO light sensitivity settings manually - so the phone simply chooses automatically (up to a maximum ISO 3200 setting). That was a slight frustration for us when manual ISO selection is a feature of all its camera phone rivals here. Again it appears Apple is favouring ease of use above all else.
Full Auto ISO (ISO 64) image, see the cropped (100%) version below.
Auto ISO (64) (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Pros: It has a bright screen and easy to use and intuitive point and shoot operation, and as a camera the iPhone 5 is almost infinitely customisable via apps. Plus its side-mounted volume buttons double up as a shutter release when shooting.
Cons: Taking and reviewing photos appears to rapidly consume battery power, while camera options are more basic than the most basic of digital compacts, with no manual selection of ISO (though of course there are apps that lend greater control). Also, it has a narrower screen than others here.
Read our full Apple iPhone 5 review