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Apple iPhone 5: Top 6 defects and disadvantages

By Vicky Kapur

Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 on Friday, September 21, 2012.

The hype around the launch has barely died down that early customers have begun voicing their displeasure with what they claim are manufacturing defects that the device comes pre-loaded with.

If user rants are to be believed, it hides more than just a few bugs and then some under its posh exterior – and some in the exterior itself.

Worldwide sales of Apple’s iPhone 5 topped 5 million in the first three days, and a not-so-insignificant number of early adapters are already complaining about glaring glitches in their new smartphone.

The sales numbers, of course, are a record, as one would have expected of the world’s most hotly anticipated smartphone. But they’re still below what the market hoped for – it’s tough to meet an Apple fan or analyst’s expectations, eh?

A good number of fence-sitters, it is emerging, may be waiting for a definitive mass verdict on the iOS upgrade – if it can be called an upgrade – and whether or not its additional features are racy enough to warrant them ditching their older, more loyal smartphones for this latest 'model'.

The reviews of the tallest, slimmest, lightest and fastest iPhone yet have been mostly positive, but of the 5 million and counting iPhone 5 customers, some have already begun spotting problems that they claim are more than what they bargained for.

From the phone getting too hot to the device freezing, here are the top six user complaints that have surfaced in the first five days:

1. It gets too hot to handle: That seems to be the numero uno gripe of users right now. A rather vocal section of iPhone 5 users are complaining that after just a few minutes of browsing or simply fooling around with the phone, its back (presumably where the battery is) gets too hot to be held in a human hand. A first-day customer, Todd Ogaswara, editor of MobileAppsToday, even measured the temperature of the phone, and claimed that it was a hot 111°F, or about 44°C. Here in the UAE, we all know how hot it feels when it’s 44°C outside – now imagine holding the same amount of heat in the palm of your hand… you get the idea. Here’s an ongoing discussion on Apple’s Discussion Boards about this issue.

2. Forget better – battery life isn’t even as good as iPhone 4S: Somehow, the heat and the battery life issues seem linked. For, users who have complained of the phone getting hot have, more often than not, also complained about shorter battery life. Perhaps there is a defect in some of the batteries, which is leading them to overheat and lose charge simultaneously? We don’t know for sure. But for the sake of millions of iPhone 5’s users, we hope the hot-shots at Apple Inc. and the engineers at its factories soon figure that one out. It’s been discussed right now on Apple’s Discussion Boards here and here and here.

3. Scratch and lose: The new anodized aluminium case, we were told, was more scratch resistant than the standard aluminium used in lesser phones. Why, then, are more than a bunch of users complaining that they discovered a graffiti of scratches on their iPhones the first time they took it out of the box? From the number of complaints aired by its users, it also seems that the problem is more prevalent in the black phones than the white ones. Is it a problem? Apple is actually aware of the issue but doesn’t see it as an issue at all. This is what its Phil Schiller, Senior VP of Marketing (the same guy who unveiled the iPhone 5 along with CEO Tim Cook a few days ago) had to say about the scratches to one of its customers who wrote an email to him highlighting the scuffs: “Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color. That is normal.” Normal? It’s been just five days, Phil, and users have got the phones with scratches in the box… Are you saying your factory workers in China used the phones before packing them in boxes? Just listen to yourself. Read this, Phil, and don’t dig your head in sand.

4. Siri is officially a bimbo now: This may not be such a problem for us in the UAE – here, Siri was always dumb. Still, there were countries – most notably, the US – where Siri was indeed the ‘intelligent’ personal assistant that Apple touted her to be. In its latest avatar, that is up for debate, with Siri now making a mess out of simple things like weather reports. According to MacRumors, asking about the weather in New York City will return results for New York, Texas, even though Siri says the results are for New York, New York. Siri is also confusing Richmond, Virginia for New Richmond, Ohio; Carrollton, Texas for Carrollton, Indiana; and St. Louis, Missouri for St. Louis, Georgia. Good luck with that.

5. LTE signal/reception issue: Let’s hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Here’s what a user has to say: “I picked up my Verizon iPhone 5 today. When it’s on 3G I’ll have full signal (5 bars) and the Internet works great. When I go into settings & change to LTE, my signal will drop down to 2 bars. And this consistently happens in different cities. Why is this? Does anyone else notice this on their iPhone 5? I tried resetting and turning the phone off and on and still same problem. It even goes as bad as 1 bar of reception on LTE.” It’s on the Apple Discussion Board here with more than a handful of customers joining in to say they are experiencing the same issue.

6. Rat-tat-tat-tat: And pop goes the weasel… Sorry about that, but I’ve started enjoying reading the Apple Discussion Boards now that I resisted the temptation – unlike during the launch of the iPad 3 – and haven’t yet bought the iPhone 5. The next complaint iPhone 5 users have is that it has a lose screw somewhere in it, which makes rattling noise and annoys them no end. Here’s what they’re saying.

These are the top issues users have raised with their new iPhone 5s but these are by no means the only issues to have bugged users. There are other complaints, from touchscreen problems to slow WiFi, and from speakers not working properly to yellow screen tints and more.

It seems Tim Cook didn’t unveil the iPhone 5 last Friday – he opened the Pandora’s Box. Is Apple missing Steve Jobs’ obsession with quality? Are customer's expectations of the iPhone 5 unrealistic, or has the world's most hotly anticipated device failed to meet the hype created by Apple? Have you made up your mind on the iPhone 5 yet? What do you think? Let us know...


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