TODO alt text

iPhone 5 (Verizon) review

Verizon's 4G coverage is great but an unlimited plan won't be cheap

Our Verdict

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 16 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 8 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1136 x 640
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Largest LTE network
  • Great 4G performance
  • FaceTime over cellular
  • Unlocked hardware

Against

  • No simultaneous voice and data
  • Keeping unlimited plan is pricey

While the handsets may look identical between networks, your choice of provider for the iPhone 5 can result in picking up (or losing) some very helpful perks, many of which seem to fall in the favor of Verizon.

Notably, Verizon allows iPhone 5 users on any data plan to use FaceTime over 4G LTE without an additional charge, which runs contrary to AT&T's own approach in that regard. Likewise, those without unlimited data plans can use the included Personal Hotspot function to create a wireless network for other devices as needed. It might suck your data plan dry, depending on use, but at least it's there in a pinch.

Verizon's 4G LTE performance

iPhone 5 Verizon review

It's been a long time coming, but we finally have an iPhone that supports 4G LTE, leaving the sluggish 3G days in the past – or for those times when you're outside of the LTE coverage zone. Lucky for Verizon users in the U.S. that's a pretty slim area, at least compared to AT&T and Sprint.

We tested our iPhone 5 around the city of Chicago and had no trouble maintaining our LTE signal throughout – and notched very impressive speeds along the way. Using the Speedtest.Net app, we managed to ring up a top download speed of 32.07 Mbps on Verizon, while the top upload speed we saw was 15.29 Mbps.

That's the extreme; more commonly, we saw a download speed in the range of 23-28 Mbps and an upload rate of between 5 -10 Mbps. Occasionally, we notched slower results in testing (only when pinging a specific server, it seemed), but in average day-to-day use, the service didn't disappoint.

iPhone 5 Verizon review

Pulling up websites over LTE on Safari still showed a marked speed improvement at all times over what we'd experienced on the iPhone 4S, and even sending iMessages and emails had a previously unseen immediacy that caught us by surprise.

Much as Maps has taken flak for its myriad issues, at least the 3D models loaded pretty quickly for us over LTE (not so much on Wi-Fi, though). Call quality also proved quite good on the iPhone 5, with a clearer signal coming in from the other line than when using Verizon's 3G service on the iPhone 4S.

Verizon unlocks the iPhone 5

And as we surprisingly discovered this week, Verizon did not – and says it will not ever – lock the iPhone 5 hardware, meaning you can bounce to a competing network and use its service (not LTE, however) via a different SIM card, as well as use the phone overseas on other networks. What's unprecedented about this move is not that Verizon sold the phone unlocked, but that it seems intent on keeping it that way.

iPhone 5 Verizon review

What's the downside to Verizon? Sadly, the iPhone 5 can't manage simultaneous voice and data use over LTE, which means no downloading emails or browsing the web while chatting up a pal over speakerphone. For heavy multitaskers, that could well be a deal-breaker. More casual users may not even notice it until the need pops up in a random future situation.

New Verizon customers must choose from a Share Everything plan, which combines data, voice, and text service, and also includes access to the Personal Hotspot feature. You'll pay $40 a month per device for access and then $40 more on top of that for 300MB of data, with scaling options reaching $50 for 1GB, $60 for 2GB, $70 for 4GB, and so on and so forth. All plans come with unlimited calls and texts.

Existing Verizon customers, meanwhile, can maintain their existing plans with one key exception. Unlimited plan holders who wish to retain their plan aren't eligible for a discount on the iPhone 5 hardware, so the trade-off is either keeping unlimited data at the full retail price of the phone ($650-850) or taking a limited plan and saving money on the phone, assuming you're eligible for an upgrade.

Verdict

In our initial days of using the iPhone 5 on Verizon's LTE network, we've come away pleased with the results, as it's been speedy and reliable in regular use. It's about on par with other Verizon LTE handsets we've tested in the same market, though for longtime Apple users, it's a late but appreciated revolution that dramatically enhances the iOS 6 experience.

Be sure to read TechRadar's complete review of the iPhone 5.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBNo
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyiPhone 5
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 700, LTE 850, LTE 1700, LTE 1800, LTE 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourWhite, Silver
Operating SystemiOS
Brand NameApple
Battery Talk Time8 Hour
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution1136 x 640
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)112 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerApple
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Backlight TechnologyLED
Operating System VersioniOS 6
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), Email, MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), iMessage
Pixel Density326 ppi
Height123.7 mm
Width58.7 mm
Depth7.6 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time225 Hour
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product NameiPhone 5
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Product LineiPhone 5
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeGyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberMD298B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

Thin, sleek, and very capable.

It's hard to believe a phone so thin could offer so many features: a larger display, a faster chip, the latest wireless technology, an 8MP iSight camera, and more. All in a beautiful aluminum body designed and made with an unprecedented level of precision. iPhone 5 measures a mere 7.6 millimeters thin and weighs just 112 grams. That's 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than iPhone 4S. The only way to achieve a design like this is by relentlessly considering (and reconsidering) every single detail - including the details you don't see.

Package Contents
  • iPhone 5
  • Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Documentation