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TECH: Iphone 5 - Buy or Sell
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On 21 September, Apple's highly anticipated iPhone 5 went on sale in various markets around the world, and as expected, has been selling successfully ever since. The next generation iPhone has, for the most part, been receiving quite positive reviews. However, no date has been set yet for a China release date. When the iPhone 5 does hit China, will you upgrade? Here are some details to help you make your decision.
 
What's New?
The screen of the iPhone 5 is larger (well, longer). The screen hasn't gotten any wider but it has gotten long enough to accommodate a fifth row of applications on the home screen. The new screen resolution, which has been the same for the past five years, goes from a 3.5- inch, 960x640 pixel display to a 4-inch 1136x640 pixel display.  To give you some perspective, the iPhone 5 is as long as the Samsung Galaxy SII but not as wide.
 
This is the lightest iPhone produced to date. It is 25% lighter than the iPhone 4S, which is extremely impressive given the fact that the iPhone 5 is a bigger phone. At 3.95 ounces, the iPhone 5 is freakishly light. The phone is also significantly skinnier than the iPhone 4S, going from 9.3 mm to 7.6 mm in depth.
 
If you are using the iPhone 5 in a place that has 4G technology (4G is not yet available in China) than the new 4G LTE technology may shock you by how fast the speed is. In a test done in downtown Manhattan, download speeds ran from 10-20 Mbps, which is twice as fast as a typical wireless router in your house. You could use the iPhone as a wireless personal hotspot for your laptop or other devices and have internet access on the go.
 
The entire bottom of the phone has been redesigned. Firstly, the headphone jack has been moved to the bottom (making it impossible to stand your iPhone up while using your headphones). Secondly, the traditional iPhone/iPod/iPad connection/charging port has been ditched for a new, much smaller,  ’Lightning’ port. This may cause a headache for a number of Apple users who have plopped down money on docks and charging stations.
 
IOS 6
With the new phone also comes a major new update to the operating system. IOS 6 is chalk full of new features (200 to be exact) and has a distinctive new look and feel in terms of presentation and functionality. However, users of iOS 6 have been complaining about a number of issues including the exit of Google Maps and the introduction to the new Apple Maps application. IOS 6 is available for the iPhone 3GS and all newer iPhone models, all iPads and the fourth and fifth generations of iPods. However, not all of the new features will work for every device. For example, turn-by-turn navigation will only work for the iPhone 4S and 5. Below you can find some key highlights to the new OS.  
 
The features
The change that has made the biggest headlines is Apple's move to purge Google Maps from the OS and replacing it with Apple Maps. Apple has been getting ready for this move for several years now. Since 2009, the company has purchased three different mapping companies and has forged partnerships with TomTom and OpenStreetMaps. Many people have been complaining about the accuracy of locations and directions with Apple's map application. However, if you are using the application in China, I think this is not a big issue. In my experience, Google Maps has also been quite unreliable at times for finding locations, and is generally very slow to load. When I played around with Apple Maps it was blazingly fast and was able to pinpoint major locations within Tianjin. However, there were several instances whereby I would type in an address or place in Tianjin that it didn't recognise and it would automatically jump to another city in China where the address existed. Apple has admitted that their new Maps program is a work in progress and they promise to keep the updates coming. Some added functionality to maps on the iPhone that may or may not be useable in China are flyover (a bird's eye view of the city), turn-by-turn navigation, multi-touch to rotate the map (it's about time) and enhanced real-time traffic data.
 
Passbook is another key update to iOS 6, which allows you to store tickets, gift certificates/cards and boarding passes in a digital wallet. Unfortunately, the iPhone 5 doesn't use NFC (near field communications) so you won't be able to store credit/debit card details and make mobile payments with your iPhone. Passbook is still useful as you can purchase and store gift cards to retailers such as Starbucks and pay with your phone. The retailer will then use their existing POS system to scan the barcode on your digital gift cards and tickets. Also, when the iPhone senses that you are near a store that you have a gift card for or if you have a ticket that is about to expire, Passbooks will send you a notification to your home screen. As time goes on, more and more developers and retailers will utilise this feature making it more valuable.  
 
Find My Friend and Reminders got some updates that will help to enhance their user experience. For Find My Friend, you are now able to receive notifications when your friend/family member enters or exits a certain location. For example, you can set an alert for when your children get home if you are worried about them getting home from school. Reminders also utilises location by allowing you to setup alerts for when you enter a location. For instance, you walk into the office and your phone will send an alert that reminds you about a conference call at 10. Additionally, Reminders now works with iCloud so you can seamlessly sync your reminders with all of your devices and make sure you never forget anything again!
 
Facebook Integration is now extremely deep. You can easily post pictures to Facebook, integrate Facebook data into your mobile contacts and post to Facebook just by talking to Siri. Of course, living in China means that you will need to use a VPN in order to take advantage of these functions!
 
Do Not Disturb is a simple yet useful function. As the name implies, it is a setting you can turn on when you don't want to be bothered by any notifications or calls. How many times have you been woken up in the middle of the night by an unimportant notification? This will help to put an end to those sleepless nights. What if someone is trying to contact you about some emergency? You can set your favourites or a special list of contacts who will be able get through to you. If you have a family member calling you from someone else's phone you can even set it up so that if an unknown number calls multiple times within some period, the phone call will get through.
 
The Verdict: Apple has yet to announce when the iPhone 5 will be released in China. But when the phone does hit the shelves in Mainland China, expect to pay around CNY 5000 for it. If you already own an iPhone 4S than it may not be worth upgrading to the iPhone 5; unless, perhaps you can sell your 4S to offset the cost for the 5 model. If you have an iPhone 4 or even older, it is probably time to upgrade. If you are upgrading your phone you may also want to consider the Samsung Galaxy S3. The S3 is another top tier phone on the market right now that has a much bigger screen than the iPhone 5 and can be purchased for a cheaper price. Also worth considering is the Nokia Lumia 900 and the 920 when it is released in early November.
 
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