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Woes with iPhone 5 go beyond Maps

Date

Edward C. Baig

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

A picture taken with an iPhone 5, left, and an iPhone 4S, right.

A picture taken with an iPhone 5, left, and an iPhone 4S, right.

A week following the launch of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, Apple CEO Tim Cook apologised for the company's imperfect new Maps app. But flawed maps haven't been the only issue to get some consumers worked up since they got their hands on Apple's latest smartphone.

Though overall customer satisfaction and demand remain high, some customers fret about a variety of problems — from intolerably slow hang times when email is loading, to frustrating battery life.

A survey by On Device Research of nearly 16,000 iPhone users in the US last month revealed a slight decrease in device satisfaction among those who upgraded to iOS 6 compared with when they upgraded to iOS 5.

Customer frustration ... the iPhone 5.

Customer frustration ... the iPhone 5.

All this has to be taken in perspective. Apple sold more than 5 million iPhone 5s over the first weekend. More than 100 million people have downloaded iOS 6 onto older models of the iPhone or on their iPads. Even if a teeny percentage of problem units turn up — and some are inevitable — the shock waves are sure to register. Folks are rarely blase about Apple. You're often either a passionate devotee or outspoken critic.

Veteran Apple watcher Leander Kahney, who runs the Cult of Mac website, has seen it before. He says some of the current issues bring to mind "Antenna-gate," when some users complained of a weak signal on the iPhone 4. The late Steve Jobs tried to appease customers with free cases. Apple "gets a real drumming in the tech press," Kahney says. But that drumming comes, he says, only after many of these same people go ecstatic over Apple's latest and greatest. "There's a germ of a problem, a germ of an issue, and it gets blown out of crazy proportion. Apple gets over-praised. They suffer from over-criticism."

Some concerns that have surfaced:

Purple haze

The camera on the iPhone 5 has garnered mostly positive reviews. But some users have noticed a purple haze or flare on some of the pictures captured when the phone is angled toward a bright light that may be just outside a scene. This is not atypical. Tests conducted by Consumer Reports revealed that this Jimi Hendrix effect is not limited to the iPhone 5.

Apple, meanwhile, posted the following resolution online: "Most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the edge of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources. ... Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens, or shielding the lens with your hand, should minimise or eliminate the effect."

Battery

Apple claims up to eight hours of talk time for the iPhone 5, and eight to 10 hours of internet use, depending on whether you're using 3G, 4G or wi-fi networks. But some people haven't fared so well.

There are, well, a battery of possible explanations. People might actually be using the phone more. The battery could be taxed in the first day or so of usage, when you're syncing a lot of stuff and downloading content. If you're in an area with a weak network signal, the radios inside the phone may be working harder to make a connection.

Scratches

In an email exchange reported by 9To5Mac, Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller responded to a customer who had seen "some scuffs, scratches and marks" on his device. Schiller wrote, "Any aluminium product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver colour. That is normal." It's been recently reported, though, that such dings are causing quality control crackdowns at Foxconn Technology, which assembles the iPhone, leading to possible supply shortages.

Screen glitches

Are bugs inhabiting some iPhone 5 displays? In the "Green glow on iPhone 5 unlock screen?" topic area in the Apple Support Communities, one user wrote that a green glow appeared around the edge of the display on his iPhone for a fraction of a second after you turn on the screen. Some users reported similar issues.

YouTube videos are documenting another screen problem, a constant flicker of light that appears under the keyboard on some devices. Apple hasn't publicly weighed in on these issues.

Slowness

Some users have experienced painfully slow times between when they tap on a message in an email inbox and when that message actually appears.

Whatever problems are emerging aren't affecting sales. Consider the issue that has gotten the most media attention: Maps. Despite CEO Cook's apology and the snags surrounding Maps — inaccuracies, missing points of interest, and so on — a survey by ChangeWave Research indicated that the Maps app is "irrelevant" when it comes to demand for the new iPhone.

And 90 per cent of those surveyed who already have tried Maps on the new iPhone or on another iOS 6 device reported no problems with the app. Only 3 per cent characterised it as a "very big problem." Maps "is not an antenna issue," says Paul Carton, ChangeWave's vice president for research.

Adds Cult of Mac's Kahney: "The vast majority of consumers are totally delighted with the iPhone 5 and iOS 6."

Apple declined to comment.

USA Today

126 comments

  • The only one of these issues I have experienced is the maps - which is a big blunder but not enough to cause my life any distress. The speed increase from the iPhone 4 to iPhone 5 was very noticeable for mine. I am happy with the phone - it does all it needs to do - and once Google Maps puts out an app all will be fine. Now cue the screeching hordes of Android fanboys and fangirls to tell us all how superior they are to us due to their choice in mobile phone.

    Commenter
    Phillip Quist
    Location
    The Dressing Room
    Date and time
    October 29, 2012, 9:09AM
    • The MAPS issues are very important to me. I downloaded the new operating system (don't have the iPhone5 yet) and it replaced my google maps with Apples' MAPS!?!

      At first, I thought "cool"... then, it cannot find addresses I try to find, it shows streets where they shouldn't be, it shows a house number in the wrong location numerous times and it DOES NOT show the house numbers on the map, unlike the google maps app which I loved!

      I use it extensively, and was very annoyed. Now I have to use another version of google maps, which takes me to my safari browser is makes things very slow to search, but it has all the features and accuracies I need.

      Another thing. I cannot zoom in or out with my camera. I used to be able to prior to the update of OS, so why does Apple remove features without my consent?????

      Commenter
      JJ
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 12:04PM
    • The only issue I have had is a small scratch on the back of the phone out of the box, but not a big deal as I don't see it! I would have thought they would have fixed the battery issue of the 4s though, I have noticed any improvement in battery life so I must go around all day with my umbilical to capture a charge whenever I can! An excellent phone, yes, but I must say I expect more form Apple. Once their phones were beyond compare, now they are essentially equivalent with competitive offerings.

      Commenter
      luke
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 12:38PM
    • I don't think Google are in a hurry to fix apples problem on the maps issue. Nor is it their problem, Apple dumped them in iOS6. If you think that Google are going to jump, hop and skip for Apple then you may be waiting a while.

      Commenter
      Douggie
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 1:00PM
    • @JJ
      Use pinch gesture to zoom the camera.

      Commenter
      Dr Charlesworth
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 1:45PM
    • @JJ, pinch the screen to zoom when taking a photo.

      Apple don't have to ask you for consent when they change a feature, nor does any other company. You didn't have to upgrade, and there are dozens of other phones you could have chosen.
      That's the commercial world, they make an offer and you either accept or reject it.

      Commenter
      Simon
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 2:22PM
    • You can buy a Google Map app for $2. Its hardly anything to worry about if you're not happy with the maps.

      Commenter
      MissionMan
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 2:29PM
  • This happens to all big companies in the lead. They get complacent, and arrogant. Apple is and will be no different.
    There are better phones out there folks. Vote with your wallet, and conversely (or should that be that perversely? ;-)) watch quality improve.

    Commenter
    TechHead
    Location
    in your base
    Date and time
    October 29, 2012, 9:10AM
    • This is a good point.

      As much as hate apple and as much as I love my Samsung...Apple used to be a seriously innovative company.

      Maybe if people started to think about their next phone purchase instead of blindly choosing another iPhone Apple might get a bit of a cattle prod and re-start that innovation machine.

      Think of what they could achieve if they actually started give a crud about innovation again...instead of trotting out tripe like the iPhone 5 and that mini-iPad thing.

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 10:59AM
    • Technically speaking, of course there are better phones! But its not central reason why people choose Apple products or the iPhone - you still dont get that and thats why it seems you are still in the techincal stone age. The reason people like Apple is for the whole Apple eco-system, the movies, music, apps, content and simplicity streamlined experience across multiple devices.

      Commenter
      Griffo
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 11:22AM

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