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iPhone 5: Critics give thumbs up

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple's iPhone 5 is drawing accolades from technology critics who praise the smartphone's lightweight body design, bigger screen and swifter data-download speeds even as some faulted its mapping tools.

The iPhone 5, which is scheduled to reach stores Friday, is the best smartphone on the market, map-software flaws aside, according to Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. Ed Baig of USA Today said the device keeps Apple ahead of rivals, and Rich Jaroslovsky of Bloomberg called it the "handsomest phone you can buy."

The mostly positive reviews stand to fuel what's already turning out to be robust demand. The company said on Monday that it received more than 2 million orders in 24 hours, more than double the record set when the company introduced the iPhone 4S last year. With a new wireless contract, the device costs $199, $299 and $399, depending on the amount of memory.

"Nearly every feature has been upgraded, with a focus on what counts: screen, sound, camera, speed," David Pogue wrote in the New York Times.

According to Mossberg and Jaroslovsky, one of the iPhone's biggest drawbacks is the mapping software created by Apple to replace the Google maps application that had come pre-installed on the iPhone since 2007. For instance, Apple's version doesn't have public-transit routing, Mossberg said. Jaroslovsky said the software was easily confused giving directions.

Pogue criticized Apple's change to a new dock connector, saying the move hampered the device's compatibility with cars, clocks and speakers. The adapters being sold by Apple, which cost $30 or $40, don't work for all accessories, he said.

Because Apple only releases one new model a year, a successful debut is critical for the company's continued growth. That compares with the several smartphones released each year by Samsung, Apple's main competitor in a global smartphone market that surged 62 percent to $219.1 billion last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries.

Samsung, which makes smartphones with bigger screens than the new iPhone 5, has sold more than 20 million of its Galaxy S III smartphone.

"The iPhone 5 is by no means perfect, and we're lucky there are a lot of really good smartphones on the market," Jaroslovsky said. "But only one great one."

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