Digital Life: Apple's iPhone 5 -- so, should you stick or should you twist?
It's been on sale more than two weeks and so far you've resisted the temptation to follow the rest of the fanboys buying an iPhone 5. But if you're not a committed Apple fan, here's a few thoughts to help you make up your mind.
- Good luck finding one. Many networks are sold out, a two-week wait is not unusual and stock shortages are likely to continue up to Christmas. No such worries with rivals.
- The new-sized charger connection immediately renders all your old cables redundant.
Many people will have several if not dozens of old iPod/iPhone chargers or docks that simply will not fit iPhone 5. Landfills are about to get a lot fuller.
- You can buy adapters to make old cables work but -- are you sitting down? -- Apple is the only supplier and they cost €30 each for a bit of plastic and metal. I mean, hello?
- Many of the goodies available in the new handset come courtesy of the upgraded software in the iOS6 operating system.
But the best of them -- including Twitter/Facebook integration, photo panoramas, improved Siri and shared picture streams -- are available free to owners of the older iPhone 4S.
- Let's not talk about the disaster that is Apple Maps. Oh, OK, let's. It's so bad that Apple head honcho Tim Cook advised his customers to use rivals' products, such as Bing and Google. Now that's some humble pie.
- See also: smudging on the casing of the white version, battery life, premium pricing.
- Other firms have designed many attractive phones but none has the zen beauty of iPhone 5, a gradual evolution in styling that somehow manages to be drastically lighter and noticeably slimmer despite a larger screen.
- Ah yes, the crisp, bright screen. Elongated like it's been stretched on a torturer's rack, the iPhone 5's display gains extra height without adding width, hitting a sweet spot that makes it easily navigable one-handed.
Few big rivals can say the same.
- It flies, it purrs. Every iPhone always puts the last to shame for speed and this one really motors in a way that never leaves you waiting.
- The camera subtly improves on the previous generation by tackling one of phones' hidden weaknesses -- pictures in low light.
- Apple has finally seen fit to upgrade the bundled headphones from "total rubbish" to "fairly acceptable".
You won't mistake them for high-end models and they don't block out noise, but they're a decent step up.
- See also: improved call quality (Vodafone only), faster download speeds (again Vodafone only, if you pay extra), and punchier speaker sound.
How many guns would you like to play with? Is 50 enough? How about 100? Borderlands 2 gives you those and more in a sequel that again meshes the exploratory RPG style of Fallout with the frantic shooter vibe of Rage and the obsessive scavenging of Diablo.
Shoot and loot, its makers dub it, quite fairly. Best experienced in four-player co-op, you traverse post-apocalyptic wastelands of sometimes quite savage beauty. Facing cunning AI willing to dodge and charge, half the fun lies in choosing from a bewildering array of weaponry bought or appropriated from downed enemies.
Perhaps as a shooter it's too complicated for its own good at times, but Borderlands 2 never lets up on the entertainment.
Tales of Graces
It's pointless to mock the Japanese RPG clichés -- spiky-haired amnesiac heroes, sub-X Factor J-pop soundtrack, uneven voice-acting -- even though Tales of Graces deals them in spades. And this instalment in the venerable Tales of. . . series does itself few favours with a ponderous opening.
But fans of the genre will be engaged by the speedier-than-usual combat and deep system of weapon crafting and character building.
Pokémon Typing Adventure
How strange. Your €50 scores you a nice Bluetooth keyboard (which also works happily with iPads, phones and the like) and a peculiar game that purports to improve your typing but has no application in real life (unless you use words such as Pikachu a lot).
Pokémon addicts will find nothing new here and the unconverted will judge its typing-against-a-time-limit shtick a novelty.
Bits and Bytes
- Microsoft has jumped into the streaming music market with the launch in Ireland and 21 other countries of Xbox Music.
For a tenner a month, you can choose from a huge catalogue of songs to stream to your Xbox.
When Windows 8 debuts in computers and phones later this month, subscribers will also be able to listen to their tunes across these other devices.
Windows 8 machines, including tablets and PCs, will also have the option of a free version of the service, in which songs will be interrupted by ads every 15 minutes.
The move puts Microsoft into competition with the similar Deezer service, whose premium version including mobile listening costs the same €10.
- Well, that was embarrassing.
A free code giveaway by game giant EA went viral at the weekend when web users discovered the code could be used numerous times to get discounts of up to $20 on titles such as Dead Space and Mass Effect.
The promo code was posted on social site Reddit and was widely shared until EA shut down the loophole about 18 hours later.
Needless to say, thousands of games were downloaded for free but it is understood EA will take no further action.