The first thing to do is get yourself a new case. Pronto! The iPhone 5 is 8.6mm longer than its predecessor and that seemingly small increase makes a big difference when you put the phone in your pocket. Shallow pants pockets that happily housed the iPhone 4 are inadequate for the lanky 5 and you’ll find the phone slipping out and onto the ground frequently. So add protection as soon as you can.
However, there is a gotcha. Cases for the iPhone 5 are designed to accommodate the new Lightning connector, which replaced the old 30-pin dock connector at the base of the phone. If you take a look at the base of your iPhone 5, you’ll see, from left to right, the relocated headset jack (it used to be at the top), a microphone, the Lightning connector and a speaker. Cases need to provide openings or grilles for each of these and a good case will, of course, be designed so you can charge your phone or connect it to an accessory without removing the case. That’s fine when you’re using the supplied Lightning cable, but if you get yourself a Lightning to 30-pin adapter so you can connect your iPhone 5 to older accessories or charge it using one of your old cables, the adapter won’t work with an iPhone 5 case. You’ll find in most instances you’ll need to remove the case in order to get a snug enough fit between the adapter and the Lightning connector.
The solution? See if you can find a case with one large opening along the bottom instead of individual cutouts for the headset, mic, speaker and Lightning connector. The Case Mate Pop! with built-in stand is one possibility. If you’re looking at cases online, make sure you can see the bottom of the case so you can tell whether it’ll be suitable. Or, if you’re not too fumble-fingered, you could settle for a shield to protect the screen and leave the rest of your phone naked.
Unlike most other cases, The Case Mate Pop accomodates both the iPhone 5 and the Lightning to 30-pin dock adapter. Most cases don't.
Leave your old phone behind
If you’re moving up from an earlier iPhone model, you need to do a couple of things before you activate your new phone.
First, make sure you have a backup of your contacts and other important data from your old phone. You can do that either by connecting your phone to your computer and syncing it via iTunes or, if you’re running iOS 5 or later and you’ve set up an iCloud account, by ensuring you have a backup in the cloud. To force a manual iCloud backup, connect to a Wi-Fi network and tap ‘Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Back Up Now’ (make sure the ‘iCloud Backup’ switch is ‘On’ first).
Second, check your voicemail messages. Depending on your carrier, you’re likely to lose any existing stored voicemail messages when you activate your new device. Check to see whether you have any unplayed messages or any info you need to jot down before you delete the old messages. If you desperately need to save your voice messages, grab yourself a 3.5mm audio extension cable, connect it to your phone’s headset jack and your computer’s microphone jack and use software such as the freeware Audacity (audacity.sourceforge.net) to record the output as you play each message.
When you first turn on your iPhone 5, the Setup Assistant will walk you through getting your phone activated. You may have been through this process already if you purchased your phone in a store, otherwise you’ll find the process straightforward. You’ll need to choose your language and country, and you’ll be asked whether you want ‘Location Services’ enabled. ‘Location Services’ allow apps to track your location via mobile phone and Wi-Fi networks and GPS. You’ll probably want this enabled — you can always disable it in general or on an app-by-app basis later in ‘Settings > Privacy > Location Services’.
If you’re upgrading from an older iPhone, you’ll also be asked whether you want to restore your phone from an iCloud Backup or an iTunes Backup. Doing either of these will copy all your settings and contacts across to the new phone and install your apps. It’s usually the way to go. You’ll need to supply your Apple ID. If this is your first iPhone, you’ll be invited to create an Apple ID and set up iCloud. The Apple ID lets you make purchases in the App Store and iTunes, so it’s worth having. iCloud lets you sync contacts, calendars, mail, photos and apps across devices and lets you back up your music.
You’ll also be asked whether you want to activate Siri, the voice-activated assistant. If you choose not to do so now, you can enable her later via ‘Settings > General > Siri’. If you do enable Siri, you can ask her a question by pressing and holding down the Home button. If you’re not sure what sort of questions you can ask, tap the small ‘I’ to the right of Siri’s ‘What can I help you with?’ prompt to see a list of possibilities.
Even if you restore your phone from a backup, you may find that some of the settings don’t get carried over. For example, email passwords often seem to go astray, so once you’ve finished with the Setup Assistant, tap ‘Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars’ and then take a look at each of your mail accounts in turn and check the account setting where your password is stored.
Make the most of the new hardware
The iPhone 5 is evolutionary, not revolutionary, but it does deliver a few significant hardware changes. The new Lightning connector has been maligned — deservedly so — for introducing yet another proprietary connector that won’t work with most existing accessories. Despite its drawbacks, there are significant advantages to the connector: it’s smaller, it’s lighter, it’s less prone to twisting and fraying where it joins the cable, and thanks to the genius of dynamic pin assignment, it’s reversible, so you can plug it in either way. Surprisingly, it’s one of the first connectors of any sort for which this is true and you’ll be surprised what a huge difference this tiny improvement makes.
Still, if you’ve upgraded from an earlier iPhone or you live in a mixed iPhone/iPad family, you’ll probably want to get yourself a few Lightning to 30-pin dock adapters so you can use your old charging cables and accessories. Note that while those adapters support analogue audio output, USB audio, syncing and charging, they don’t support video output and iPod Out (this provides iPod-like menu navigation when you plug your phone into some stereo systems). Nor do the adapters work with all accessories, especially as their bulk makes them unsuitable to fit into some snug docking stations.
You'll need a Lightning to 30-pin dock adapter, or two or three, to connect your iPhone 5 to existing accessories and cables.
By the way, expect to see the Lightning connector make an appearance on all new Apple devices including the iPad, so your investment in adapters should eventually pay off. The Lightning to 30-pin adapters come with or without a 20cm cable. Note that the adapters include an authentication chip, so be wary of buying cheap knockoffs.
To connect your iPhone 5 to a TV, you’ll need to wait for the Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA adapters — they may be already available by the time you read this.
Another major new hardware feature is the improved camera. The camera’s resolution has been upped to 3,264 x 2,448 pixels and a new dynamic low-light mode automatically senses low light and can boost the ISO from the previous limit of 800 to 3,200, which means four times the light sensitivity. The camera is also 40% faster, so you’ll be able to snap shots in rapid succession.
Video is also improved. The FaceTime Camera now takes 1.2MP stills and 720p HD video, instead of the old VGA for both stills and video. There’s improved stabilisation and face recognition when you’re shooting video, and you can tap to focus in video as well as in still images. The addition of an extra mic (one on the front, one on the back and one on the bottom) will also improve the audio quality of phone calls as well as video. Take some time to experiment with the new capabilities.
Finally, the iPhone’s increased length is sufficient to provide room for an extra row of icons on each of your home screens. Here’s your opportunity to spread out. That extra row gives you 44 more slots on the phone’s 11 home screens. If you’ve been tucking apps away in folders and then finding them hard to locate, pull them back out onto the main screen. To move an app, tap and hold it until the icon jiggles and then drag it around the screen or to the screen edge to move it to the next home screen. You can also drag one app onto another to create a folder, or drag any app out of a folder to return it to solitary glory.
As well as reorganising your apps, make sure you update all of them via the App Store. Many apps have been rewritten to take advantage of the iPhone 5’s larger screen, so you’ll want to take advantage of this. The App Store, by the way, has had a total makeover in iOS 6 and the once-painful process of updating multiple apps requires nothing more than a single tap.
Check your privacy settings
The Setup Assistant lets you turn on ‘Location Services’, but that’s a general on/off setting. When you install a new app, it’ll display a location warning the first time it tries to access ‘Location Services’ data. At that time, you can choose to grant or deny access. You can also dive into ‘Settings > Privacy > Location Services’ and switch this setting on or off for any app at any time. You’ll definitely want to have ‘Location Services’ enabled for mapping, traffic, transit and weather apps; for photography apps enabling Location Services lets you tag photos with their location; for other apps including Facebook, Twitter and Safari, you should weigh your privacy desires against the additional features enabled by ‘Location Services’.
iOS 6, not iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 ships with iOS 6 preinstalled. Many of the new features you’ll see attributed to the iPhone 5 — such as better Facebook integration and the new and sad Maps app — are actually iOS 6 features. That means you can take advantage of such features (or suffer them!) on earlier iPhones, not just the 5. We’ll be covering iOS 6 in detail in the coming months.