Consumer Reports: iPhone 5 “Best iPhone Yet,” Not #1 Smartphone

Consumer Reports iPhone 5 ReviewImage by The Mac Observer

The iPhone 5 is “among the best smartphones” and “the best iPhone yet,” according to Consumer Reports, which released its review of Apple’s latest flagship product on Friday. Although improving significantly on the publication’s review of the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 still scored slightly lower than the Samsung Galaxy S III and Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX.

The iPhone 5’s redesigned thinner and lighter body, larger display, and LTE compatibility made the phone a significant upgrade over its predecessor, the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 5’s camera, with improved low-light performance, also won over the testers at Consumer Reports: “Excluding the phenomenal 41-megapixel camera we tested on the Nokia 808, the iPhone 5’s 8-megapixel camera is the best we’ve seen on a smart phone. In the full battery of tests we give to smart-phone cameras, the iPhone 5’s camera proved capable of capturing beautifully sharp and vibrant photos.”

The AT&T iPhone 5 models scored 77 out of 100, falling just short of the Galaxy S III, with a score of 78 and a lower retail price. The Verizon and Sprint iPhone 5s scored slightly lower, at 75, due to the inability to use voice and data simultaneously on their networks.

All iPhone 5 models scored low points for their inability to create and edit office documents out of the box (although third party apps can solve this problem), the lack of Flash support (not a surprise), only “fair” voice quality, the lack of physical buttons for certain functions, such as launching the phone app, the lack of a physical keyboard, the loss of the built-in YouTube app, and the use of a sealed battery that is not user-changeable.

As for the Apple Maps controversy, Consumer Reports gave Apple credit for addressing the quality concerns and still found it to be a promising new feature. “Apple’s new maps app, available on iPhone 5 and other iPhones, is competent enough, even if it falls short of what’s available for free on many other phones,” the review stated.

Consumer Reports has a history of giving the iPhone a tough review (although some would characterize it simply as a fair review). The publication gave a much discussed negative review to the iPhone 4 in 2010, suggesting that a flaw in the antenna’s design, dubbed “antennagate,” made the product impossible to recommend. Apple responded by holding a media event to discuss the issue and announcing that all iPhone 4 customers could receive a free bumper case that mitigated the problem.

The full Consumer Reports smartphone ratings guide is available to the publication’s subscribers. Others can view the organization’s press release for a summary of their findings.