iPhone 5 review

The iPhone 5 re-energized Apple's smartphone, but it's now long in the tooth

iPhone 5 review
The definitive iPhone 5 review

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Apple took the curious step of not really increasing the battery life on the iPhone 5 despite the faster chipset with LTE connectivity... but it seems that the decision to wait a little while before bringing the 4G technology to the phone has allowed it to optimise the power pack.

iPhone 5 review

Apple's own battery specs indicate the device should have 225 hours of standby time, up to eight hours of internet use on 3G (and 10 on Wi-Fi), up to 10 hours of video playback and 40 hours of audio playback.

In running audio in a loop with the device on airplane mode, such an audio playback figure can be reached, and Apple's internet figures are close to what we found during testing.

In more general mixed usage, though, you'd be very optimistic to think your iPhone 5 will last longer than a single day on one charge, and that range will be dramatically reduced if you use battery-sucking processor-intensive apps or games, or power-sapping turn-by-turn navigation and 3G/LTE. Apple's device doesn't compare poorly with most other smartphones on this scale, but it's certainly no leading light, either.

We also found that issues remain within iOS that can lead to an overnight power drain if the device isn't plugged in. Historically, this has often been down to location services being overly active, and during testing we had a couple of 'dead iPhone in the morning' instances. Turning off unused location services seemed to help, but this isn't particularly discoverable for the typical user, and nor are background tasks sapping battery life something you'd usually associate with Apple.


4G is the new trick on offer from the iPhone 5 - and is now available in the UK thanks to a deal with EE.

iPhone 5 review

If you've bought one on Orange or T-Mobile, you're able to migrate to the new 4G service on the new EE network.

This will offer speeds of around 20Mbps on the go, which will outstrip even the more powerful Wi-Fi in many homes - but it's very, very pricey and the data levels on offer are poor, to say the least.You'll be paying £180 for a £36 a month deal, with only 500MB of data for company. Don't buy this deal if you want to actually get value for money.

And if that doesn't float your boat, you've got some really fast network speeds on offer: DC-HSPA means you'll be able to access 4G-lite speeds on the go providing your network is capable of this... however, most are rolling out the functionality over the coming months in the build up to greater 4G coverage, so you won't be too heavily handicapped by the lack of LTE if you're on one of the unlucky networks.

iPhone 5 4G

We spent some time checking out the new iPhone 5 on the EE 4G network - and yes, it's a lot faster. Apps downloaded minutes faster (when it came to the larger files), streams began over three seconds quicker and generally it was a much, much snappier experience on the internet.

Sure, it fully requires your data plans to be acceptable, but if you've got a decent connection you'll have broadband style speeds on the go with no question, as long as you're in a major city. This means you'll nab up to 50Mbps when out and about, with some impressively low latency of 50-55ms.

Of course, Apple could release network specific phones for the 2.6GHz spectrum that O2 and Vodafone will use for 4G, but we won't hold our breath, so if you want 4G on an iPhone 5, you're stuck with EE.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.