Despite flaws, iPhone 5 a hit with real estate pros

Data port, maps app and Supra integration seen as potential drawbacks

Sporting a bigger display, a new operating system, and faster processing, networking and photo capabilities, the iPhone 5 is a hit with many real estate professionals — despite its flaws.

Real estate pros who shared their initial impressions on the latest smartphone from Apple noted a few drawbacks including a smaller data port that renders previous iPhone accessories useless without an adapter.

The iPhone 5’s larger screen size requires updated apps for proper display, and the new operating system features a new maps application that’s not integrated with Google Maps.

Several agents had concerns about the iPhone 5’s new, smaller "Lightning" port, which makes the many accessories built for the iPhone’s original port unusable without an adapter.

Some agents, like Kim Minor, a broker with Re/Max in Bentonville, Ark., are holding off on activating their new iPhone 5 until Supra, maker of the popular Supra eKey, a device that plugs into the bottom of an iPhone and allows wireless, keyless access to lockboxes, comes out with a key built for the Lighting port or can confirm the old key will work with the Apple-made port adapter.

Which is not to say the iPhone 5 is not a hit with real estate pros.

"It’s so much faster than the iPhone 4S," said Andrea Geller, a broker with Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Chicago, thanks to¬† "Long-Term Evolution" (LTE) network speed and the quickness of in-phone functionality.

"(The screen) pops so much more," Geller said. The increase in clarity and color of the iPhone 5 screen over the iPhone 4S screen reminded her of the difference between the first edition of the iPad and the latest one.

Geller said the phone’s speed and size has prompted her to cut down on her use of her iPad. The larger screen requires her to zoom in less than she did on her iPhone 4S, and makes for easier reading.

However, the battery life doesn’t seem to be much better than the iPhone 4S, Geller said, which was disappointing. Geller and other agents say they are looking forward to companies like Mophie to make iPhone 5 versions of their battery-charging cases.

Geller said many apps and browsers — including apps for Zillow and Trulia and the Google Chrome browser — haven’t yet been upgraded to fit the new screen. Although it’s the same width, the new screen is a half-inch longer than the one employed on the iPhone 4S, and generates a distorted image for the non-iPhone 5-formatted apps.

"It’s like watching an old TV show on a new large-screen HDTV," Geller said, of the non-iPhone 5-formatted apps.

The iPhone 5 camera’s speed has impressed Rich Kwok, a broker with Re/Max in San Jose, Calif. "The iPhone 4 took way too long to take a picture," he said. "This is a great improvement, especially because I had to use a separate digital camera when taking preview photos of houses."

Kwok, like Geller, has found the larger screen easier to work with. "It’s a little bit easier to see and prepare contracts and to type in addresses," he said.

Apple’s new operating system, iOS 6, which shipped with the iPhone 5 and was made available to all other iPhone users last week, has received mixed reviews as well.

Some real estate pros like the new maps application, which used to be sourced from Google but is now developed by Apple in-house. It features turn-by-turn navigation and, when activated, notifications that pop up on the screen that allows users to read directions hands-free

However, for those pros in big cities who rely on public transit, the Apple’s map application has a gaping hole: It doesn’t integrate bus, train, subway and other mass transit information the way Google Maps did. "Seems the location ‘issues’ with (Apple Maps) is a crowdsource one, no (public transit) is a fail," tweeted Nobu Hata, director of digital engagement for the National Association of Realtors, recently.

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