Consumer Reports: iOS 6 Maps “Competent Enough”, iPhone 5 Ranked A Top Smartphone

It’s official: the iOS6 Mapgate saga is not another antennagateConsumer Reports — which famously said it could not recommend the iPhone 4 because of reception problems caused by the phone’s wrap-around antenna design — has concluded its assessment of Apple’s latest iPhone, naming the iPhone 5 the best iPhone yet, and ranking it “among the best smart phones in our Ratings.”

Despite the myriad — and sometimes hilarious — problems with Apple’s new mapping software, which replaces Google Maps in iOS6, Consumer Reports does not deem Mapgate a serious enough problem to take away from the improvements Apple has made to its iPhone line with the iPhone 5. (It’s worth noting that many of the most egregious mapping errors in Apple Maps are located outside the U.S. — while Consumer Reports’ assessment of the software is for U.S. consumers.)

Consumer Reports points to the iPhone 5’s larger 4-inch screen, its thinner and lighter form factor, and the addition of LTE as factors helping it to surpass all previous iPhones Apple has made. Improvements to Siri and the iPhone camera are also flagged as big pluses — with the camera rated by the group as the best smartphone camera it has ever tested, with the exception of Nokia’s 41-megapixel 808 PureView lens.

The iPhone 5 camera’s low-light performance and shutter speed were found to be “on par with the better smart-phone cameras” — although Consumer Reports did not find any notable improvement in the iPhone 5’s low-light and flash shots when compared to the iPhone 4S.

When it comes to iOS 6 Maps, Consumer Reports concludes that despite receiving widespread criticism, Apple’s Maps app is “competent enough, even if it falls short of what’s available for free on many other phones”.

Consumer Reports’ testers describe the Maps app as “relatively streamlined” and “generally” able to provide clear guidance — including via its turn-by-turn voice and on-screen directions feature. But concludes that overall, Apple’s Maps app is not as good as Google Maps — lacking “the details, traffic data, and customization options offered by the free Google navigation app found on Android phones”.

In its tests of Apple’s 3D Flyover feature in Maps — something Apple made much of when unveiling iOS6’s Maps for the first time — Consumer Reports’ testers found there were instances of “melting” buildings, bridges and other landmarks but, “more often than not”, the feature delivered what Apple promised.

Apple’s apology for the Maps fiasco and its pledge to improve the software are also flagged up as positive signs in the assessment — Consumer Reports further notes: “We expect the Map app to improve in time.”