We continue our iPhone 5 review with a look at the iPhone 5's cameras.

iPhone 5 review: Cameras fore and aft

On the hardware side, the rear-facing camera is much the same as that in the iPhone 4S, able to shoot full-HD video at 30fps, with software image stabilisation. The change here is a new lens cover, now crafted from sapphire crystal for improved optical clarity and hopefully scratch resistance. The front-facing camera is now up to 1280 x 720-pixel resolution, which enables Apple's video chat service FaceTime in HD mode.

Attention to the human-device interface is found in various new audio systems, starting with an intriguing triple-mic assembly. This promises better fidelity through some kind of beamforming, a variation from earlier two-mic noise cancelling. As well as a new audio co-processor tucked inside, we're told there's support for Wideband audio, using more advanced data comms technology. It should expand the frequency range of the spoken voice to make conversation more life-like. Orange seems to be the only UK operator currently offering Wideband audio, and caller and callee both need compatible handsets.

The Wideband audio tech is not an Apple first, but given the handset's impeding uquity it should really encourage more networks to look into enabling the service.

For comparitive tests of the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S3's cameras, see our story: iPhone 5 vs Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 4S video and photo comparison.

We also have for examples of panoramic images shot using the new panorama mode on the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5 review: Lightning

Updating the standard 30-pin dock connector that's been so widely tapped into for nine years was always going to upset some people. Thankfully its replacement looks to be future-proofed to survive as long in this quick-changing tech world.

The supplied Lightning cable is USB 2.0 rather than USB 3.0, although since iCloud syncing came online there's less need to transfer files over cable now. It's possible that future iterations of the cable may introduce USB 3.0, to let the connection live up to its lightning name.

The Lightning plug itself is reversible, able to be inserted either way, and has pin contacts that can adapt to the needs of the device. In other words, it should adapt to the changing needs of users and their devices in the next few years to come.

iPhone 5 review: New SIM

As expected, the iPhone 5 is taking an even smaller SIM card than the already diminuitive micro-SIM.

The nano-SIM will be a minor inconvenient speed bump to quick'n'easy switching until you've traded in your current SIM. Cutting down a micro-SIM may just be possible but is not advised.

Apple has replaced the Google-supplied mapping data for the Maps app with its own new system. It now uses vector-based graphics and text, which all scale smoothly.

But popular features such as Street View are no longer available. More worrying is the misplacing of landscape features, or the complete absence of crucial details – like railway stations.

Satellite imagery is also of poorer quality than before, with some of the images we've seen of UK scenery looking quite dour.

iOS 6 review: MapsiOS 6 flying pigs...

We've written an entire iOS 6 review, which has all the details - but here are a few thoughts on iOS Maps.

The Flyover feature is an attractive way to see buildings in 3D relief, but this is only available in select larger cities. And not on the iPhone 4, for instance.

Flying around the Thames embankment is great eye candy though, using two fingers to circle around the London Eye, for example.

Apple has stated that its new Maps feature is a work in progress but that doesn’t help users who’ve upgraded and were expecting the same functionality they’ve become used to from the built-in mapping feature.

Until Apple fixes this crucial part of its mobile operating system, a stopgap can be found by making a Home screen shortcut for Google or Bing’s online maps.

That won't help in apps like Find My Friends, though, which are stuck with Apple's deficient mapping function. This app has now been updated for iOS 6, and can use geofencing to alert you when a friend arrives at or departs from a chosen location.


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