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

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Siri makes his/her way back onto the iPhone 5, and comes imbued with ever-greater powers too.

It's also massively improved in terms of speech recognition, even picking out our mumbly tones in order to set reminders, find out what the football scores are or let us know what movies are showing nearby.

There was a lot that the iPhone 4S version of Siri couldn't do in the UK, and that's all been rectified here.

You still can't book a restaurant through the power of your voice, but you can at least learn which ones are near you. Siri did think KFC was a fish and chip shop though....LOL WRONG OMFG whatever.

iPhone 5 review

For the full run down on what Siri can now do, head on over to the Apple site - but the football scores, movies, app launching (and any app) are all excellent features that make using the phone in a car a real treat.

We'd say that Siri is a well thought out upgrade that means we'll now use it for around four things once in a while rather than just setting a timer to remind us when to stir the pasta.


Ah, now... here we go. We're sure a number of you have headed straight to this section in order to find out what Apple has been up to with iOS Maps.

Well, in a nutshell, Apple and Google decided that Google Maps wasn't going to be the main way of getting around on the iPhone, so Apple bought its own little company and teamed with TomTom to allow turn by turn directions, 3D flyover modes and the ability to see more attractions near you at any time.

iPhone 5 review

At least, that was the theory.

In practice, the internet sport of spotting mistakes on the new Maps app has grown in an amazingly quick time, simply because there are so many glitches in the software.

iPhone 5 review

You'll have probably heard about the publicised ones (spelling Doncaster wrong, refusing to show Torquay, deciding when a user types in 'Luton' they want the small village in Devon rather than the big city) but there are more serious issues we have to deal with.

For instance, there's no public transport on offer here, meaning you'll have to download a separate app to get on board a train at the right time or work out whether taking the bus is faster from where you are.

That's something Google Maps on Android does very well indeed, and means we want to berate Apple already for not having perfected its app before launch.

But we found a real time fault when using the iPhone 5 to navigate around town. We asked for directions to Paddington Station, and were told to go to Australia while standing in the middle of London.

It's not hard to type in 'London Paddington' instead, but what it did was remove trust in the app to take us to the right places when asked.

This is a major failing for such a service, and Apple has asked for 'patience' as it perfects the art of mapping, with crowd-sourcing helping to iron out these glitches. It's not as big a deal as some news outlets are making out, but if you're a company that lives and dies by consumer hype, then you need to aim for near-perfection before launch if you want to avoid this kind of thing.

We tested this extensively over the last two weeks, and while it was still mostly correct, there were too many errors for us to enjoy it. For instance, when looking for a restaurant we needed to meet people at, in a side by side test with the Samsung Galaxy S3, the two phones said it was at opposite ends of a very long street.

Thankfully we trusted Google Maps, and were rewarded with a shorter journey as iOS Maps was many many metres out.

iPhone 5 review

Apple is slowly fixing things, and we've no doubt Apple Maps in the future will continue to improve as issues are dealt with on the server side of things. Still, it wasn't a great way to launch what Apple claimed was a new pivotal app. Additionally, the graphic style Apple's used might be fine for the US, but there's no distinction between different road types in the UK, making Apple Maps inferior to Google Maps for at-a-glance navigation.

But let's not be all about the problems - the navigational side of things is actually very good, at least when using turn-by-turn in a car (assuming the locations are correctly set).

Siri's voice is clear, there are always a number of routes suggested, and it will even run on the lock screen with the phone lighting up when you're coming close to your next turn.

The app is bright, colourful and has loads of shops and restaurants listed throughout the world - it's just a shame many of those shops are now shut down or in the wrong place, so Apple needs to update its database pronto if it's to make Maps into the awesome app it could be.

The fact Apple has told users to try alternative means to map themselves around is proof enough there's an issue here - basically, Apple has done a big wrong on the world by launching a product before it's ready, especially when there was a more accurate on before.

Now that Google Maps has launched as a standalone app things are back to normal for iOS users, but it still a damning indictment on Apple's efforts in the mapping space, consigning the Apple Maps app to the same folder as Stocks, Compass and myriad other things you'll never use your iPhone for.

Apple should have ensured Maps was far more robust before releasing it. Until it's significantly improved, we strongly recommend using Google Maps for planning routes and on-foot navigation, and breaking out Apple Maps for turn-by-turn in the car, where it's a slightly superior system.

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.