Hands-on With New iPhone 5, iPod touch & nano: Bigger is Better

There are plenty of articles discussing specs and features about the iPhone 5, 5th Gen iPod touch, and 7th Gen iPod nano that you can read at your leisure (who are we kidding, you already have, right?). I'll leave all that out of this and focus on the one thing you can't yet do on your leisure: touch 'em.

I had a chance to hold and interact with each of these devices yesterday after Apple's event, and while I walked into the room a skeptic, I left a believer (for the record, that happens a LOT at Apple events).

iPhone 5

The first one I held was the iPhone 5. The first thing I noticed: it didn't feel bigger than my iPhone 4S. In fact, it felt lighter and, perhaps because of that and the fact that it's thinner, it actually felt smaller in my hand. I didn't even notice that it was taller at first.

iPhone 5

iPhone 5 - Bigger is Better

Sure I knew it was taller, and yes, I saw the fifth row of icons right there on the home screen, but that didn't really come across in any impactful way. Because it's not any wider than its predecessor, it still felt very natural to use, and the construction still felt very solid. In this case, lighter does not mean flimsier. I launched some older apps and the black bars at the top and bottom (or left and right in landscape orientation) were hardly noticeable and caused no issue.

...and then I opened Safari. WOW! I felt like I had a new window on the world. The extra height in the web browser made a huge difference. I can totally see where this is going to be great for app developers, too. It doesn't feel like a lot of extra screen real-estate until you have it, and then you'll need it. I used the iPhone 5 and iPod touch for about 15 minutes total yesterday and already my iPhone 4S feels cramped to surf on.

iPod touch

Speaking of the iPod touch, as an iPhone user I'm always amazed at how thin the touch is. My experience with the 5th generation model -- being even thinner -- was no different. It sits very comfortably in the hand, and I love the feel of the aluminum on the back.

Changing the back was definitely the right decision for this type of device. And, of course, on the back is that spring-loaded nub that pops out for the iPod touch loop.

iPod touch Back

iPod touch - Back

The loop itself is just a (faux?) leather strap. Getting it on and off the nub is easy enough, though it does take a little bit of effort since the loop is slightly narrower than the nub. That's a good thing, of course, as it will keep the loop from falling off.

It could be used, as Apple showed, in "camera mode" to keep the iPod touch from falling, but it also worked well in landscape gaming mode, great for those of the younger generation who might be more prone towards the excited moment where the iPod would otherwise fall to the ground.

iPod nano

Sometimes I think that Apple's definition of "nano" means "what we call that other, experimental iPod we build." Nowhere else do we see such radical changes in a product whose name has stayed the same. Still, the 7th generation nano is a fun product on its own.

iPod nano

iPod nano

In some ways it harkens back to the 5th generation nano, with its somewhat taller form-factor and ability to play video. This one is comfortably thin, sits well in the hand, and video looks great on it. It's certainly large enough to watch a movie while sitting on an airplane, but my guess is that it will be used more in those quicker-commute (bus, train) situations where one doesn't pack an iPad but still wants to catch up on a video or podcast.

The new Lightning connector makes this unit's size possible, and it feels quite sturdy, as well.


It comes as no surprise that Apple nailed the feel of each of these new devices. Obviously that's only part of the equation, and in another week or so we'll all get to start the longer-term test of these to see how their feel and feature updates hold up to the test of time. Until then, we can enjoy the pretty pictures.