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October 9, 2012

Slate: The iPhone 5 is a miracle

When Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 last month, many tech pundits called it "boring." I was one of them. In fact, I was so bored that I called the iPhone boring way back in July, on the basis of the lackluster new mobile operating system that Apple announced at its developer conference. After I got a few minutes with the iPhone 5 after Apple's press event, I wrote that it was "a very impressive device." But those words appeared under the headline, "No, This Is Not the Best iPhone Ever," a conclusion that was prompted by my annoyance about Apple's new, proprietary dock connector. The company should have gone with a universal connector, I argued. By making that unfriendly move, the firm had "screwed over" its most loyal customers, and missed a chance to build a truly perfect device.

Now, almost a month later, it's time for me to get something off my chest: I've made a huge mistake. I've had the iPhone 5 for about a week and a half, and I'm still annoyed about the dock connector thing. But it's a small problem, and in retrospect I was wrong to allow myself to become overwhelmed by dock-based frustration.

That's because, in all other ways, the iPhone 5 is the best phone ever to grace the earth. It beats every single rival on just about every metric you can think of, including speed, battery life, and especially beauty and workmanship.

I'll go even further: When I pick up the iPhone 5 and examine it closely, I find it difficult to believe that this device actually exists. The iPhone 5 does not feel like a product that was mass produced. In a strange way, it doesn't feel like it was built at all. This is a gadget that seems as if it fell into the box fully formed. If you run your hands around its face, you scarcely feel any seams or other points of connection; there's little evidence that this thing is a highly complex device made from lots of smaller things. Instead it just feels like a single, solid, exquisitely crafted piece of machinery, and once you pick it up you never want to put it down.

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