So, now that I have 24 hours under my belt of the new iPhone 5, I think it's fair to put a review out there. For beginners, it's beautiful, not nearly as fragile as its predecessor, fast as shit and the slightly increased screen size is just perfect.
Is it wait-in-line-at-a-mall-for-three-hours awesome? No. But some folks just aren't savvy enough to figure out that ordering an iPhone online is the way to go. Sure, it required staying up until 3:30am (it went on sale at midnight PST), but in the long run, it was a cakewalk compared to the corn-fed mules that waited in line at the Apple Store starting at the crack of dawn on Friday. Oh, and you realized that apple.com, att.com and verizonwireless.com were all doomed from the start, right? There are such things as mobile stores that end up working much faster and more successfully for these types of releases. (Just keep that in mind for when Apple finally releases their iPad Mini.)
Back to the iPhone, let's just say that the step up that this device has taken from my old iPhone 4 is like night and day. Is it terribly different from the 4s? No. It has a slightly different design and aesthetic, but in terms of functionality, you're not going to have your socks knocked off if you're thinking of paying the extra money to upgrade early from the 4s.
It's fast, sleek, lightweight and beautiful. These are the things you need to know. The new speaker styling and layout provides a much more full sound than previous models and the headphone jack at the bottom of the phone...well...that's just kind of pointless, but I suppose it might work better for some folks (maybe?). The battery life is slightly improved, the larger screen is crisp and actually provides more accurate coloring and detail to photos and websites, and the Maps app is — well — still being debugged.
The lightning connector seems to be the main sticking point with most folks, but when you take a real look at it, there hasn't been a hardware update to any of these types of iPhone accessories since the first generation. It's going to happen, people, get used to it. It's smalled, reversible and seems to connect a whole lot better (by the time my old phone had come to its last days, it needed two rubber bands to keep it connected to charge).
The bottom line? If you have an iPhone 4s, stick with it. If you can't stand not having the coolest new phone on the market, get the iPhone 5. If you need a new phone in general, this is most definitely the way to go.