Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Recent News
Home / Commentary / iPhone 5: Game changer or shiny new toy?
The iPhone 5 is a great product and an upgrade over the previous iPhone models; it is not, however, going to dramatically enhance your law practice.

iPhone 5: Game changer or shiny new toy?

The iPhone 5 features an enhanced screen and a new operating system. Consumers bought more than 5 million of the phones in the first few days after its release. (AP Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez)

It’s a nice upgrade, but it won’t remake your practice

Anytime a new gadget comes out, someone always declares “this is a game changer and will revolutionize how you (fill in the blank).”

Smartphones have become integrated in the practice of law and in many ways have enhanced a lawyer’s ability to work from various locations. The iPhone 5 is a great product and an upgrade over the previous iPhone models; it is not, however, going to dramatically enhance your law practice.

What’s new on the outside?

It’s important to remember that the iPhone 5 was launched the day after Apple released a new operating system for its mobile devices: iOS 6. Many of the new bells and whistles are not unique to the iPhone 5 — they are enhancements to the operating system. iOS 6 has some great new features and is an overall more robust operating system, but you can run iOS 6 on an ancient iPhone 3GS (released three years ago).

With that in mind, let’s focus on the physical improvements to the iPhone. The biggest change is size. The iPhone is taller (longer), slimmer and lighter. Those physical changes are noticeable and make a surprisingly dramatic difference. Because the phone weighs less with the elongated frame, it feels like almost nothing in your hand — in a very good way. Since upgrading from my iPhone 4, I have not felt any arm fatigue or hand cramping from talking on the phone all day. It sounds ridiculous, but the iPhone 5 is that much more comfortable.

The larger frame allows for a higher resolution display — Apple’s retina display. The elongated screen allows for true widesceen ratios, which is nice, but it’s the enhanced clarity that steals the show. The screen clarity is impressive — noticeably different from my iPhone 4. Apple claims their retina displays mean you cannot see the pixels. I would have to agree. The screen is flat-out awesome.

What’s new on the inside?

The iPhone 5 has a new processor and a new chip that allows access to LTE wireless. Both provide noticeable upgrades. The new processor makes a world of difference for running apps and switching between them. One of the reasons I ditched my iPhone 4 is that it was pokey and had a hard time quickly switching between apps. Running the exact same apps (with the same amount of memory) on the new phone was noticeably faster and smoother.

The ability to access LTE networks, along with the new physical frame, is one of the best reasons to get this phone. As of today, AT&T’s LTE network is demonstrably faster than it’s 3G network. I rarely wait for pages to load anymore — there is almost no lag time. Whether you are impatiently waiting for a sports score or an important email, faster is definitely better. The difference in network speed is enough by itself for me to recommend upgrading from an older iPhone.

How will it impact your practice?

This is a great phone and can be a great addition to your practice. It will not, however, transform you from a malpractice lawsuit waiting to happen into Atticus Finch.

In today’s world, it feels like smartphones are a must-have for an attorney. With the legal economy still fluttering, potential clients appear more apt to search around for an attorney. Arguably, being able to quickly respond to potential clients via email or phone is more important than ever. Returning emails and phone calls, however, does not require this smartphone — or any smartphone, for that matter.

That said,  if you are looking for a smartphone that feels good, looks good and runs smoothly, the iPhone 5 is well worth the money. But if you’re trying to convince people it’s something other than a shiny new toy, you need to work on your persuasion skills.

Randall Ryder is a consumer rights attorney in Minneapolis. He is a contributor to the Lawyerist blog and is adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. 

Leave a Reply