A sign of the new iPhone 5 is seen at the entrance of an Apple Store in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai December 14, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
Looking to buy an iPhone 5 for the holidays? Reviews from critics and actual users don't always agree. Who should you trust?
In general, critics gushed over the iPhone 5. CNET editors gave it a 4 out of 5.
PC Magazine thought it was a little better, giving the iPhone 5 a 4.5 out of 5.
MacWorld agreed, bestowing 4.5 mice.
But one of the drawbacks to professional reviews is the short amount of time reviewers usually have with a piece of tech. It's fine with a movie that everyone will see once, but living with a phone or a computer every day for years is a very different experience than simply taking it for a spin.
So user reviews can offer more insight into the pros and cons of a particular phone. Of course, since regular users aren't trained professionals, they don't always know exactly what to look for, and users tend to leave very subjective feedback. Features that aren't useful to a particular customer may be essential to another, and that tends to color amateur feedback.
CNET users give the iPhone 5 only 3.5 stars, compared to the 4 stars from the editors. With over 120 reviews spanning the last few months, it's likely that rating will cover the experience for most people thinking about picking up an iPhone 5.
At Amazon, user ratings are comparable to other sites. The iPhone 5 hovers just around 4 stars when all the ratings for the different colors and models are averaged together, higher than CNET and about on par with most of the critics' reviews.
One thing to consider with user reviews of Apple products is that Apple is sometimes a victim of its own success. Their products have cachet, and sometimes people feel like they don't live up to the hype, even if the product itself is perfectly serviceable, even quite good.
So try to actually read user reviews. That makes it easier to discount posts left in anger or mischief.
A few critics have also attempted to revisit or extend their initial reviews. Both CNN Money and BGR reviewed the iPhone 5 after an entire month of using it, and they reported a smartphone that was just as enjoyable to use on day 31 as it was on day one.