The iPhone 5 is the lightest smartphone in the world at just .3 inches thin, but the first thing you notice about the iPhone when you pick it up is just how light it is. At 3.95 ounces, Apple's sequel is a full ounce lighter than the iPhone 4S (4.9 ounces), despite packing in a larger 4-inch display. It really is remarkable when you consider that this handset uses glass and aluminum instead of plastic like some competitors.

And what a sight this screen is. The 1336 x 768-pixel screen fantastic. Not only do you get an additional row of icons, but developers will be taking full advantage of this additional real estate with apps that fit more info on the screen. We quickly fired up CNN and were impressed with the slick layout. Here's the rest of our first impressions.

The A6 chip under the hood provided fluid performance during our hands-on time. The camera fired even faster than on the iPhone 4S. Speaking of the 8-MP camera, low-light performance does seem to be improved, and we really like the new panorama feature. Just touch options in the camera view, select this option, and your iPhone 5 will guide you through the process, keeping you lined up and even warning you to slow down if you go too fast. The resulting pics impressed, which equal 28 megapixels.

The design is sturdy and super-slim. And we like that it's just as narrow as before, which makes it easier for one-finger typing when you're on the go. Our only gripe is that the headphone connector is on the bottom. The new Lightning connector is tiny but the cable end is reversible so you can't insert it the wrong way. Although we were in a loud room, the speakers do seem to have more oomph than before, which we noticed when playing back videos.

We didn't get a chance to play around with the LTE chip inside the Verizon version we had, but we expect much better performance than the iPhone 4s. Having 4G LTE on Android makes everything faster, including loading websites and maps. The new maps app also looks gorgeous, especially when you initiate the flyover feature with a two-finger swipe down.

So what's missing? NFC is not on board, so it doesn't seem as though Apple will be joining the mobile payment party anytime soon. NFC would also let you share photos with a tap, although Shared Photo Streams accomplishes this over the cloud.

Overall, the iPhone 5 looks like a winner. It crams a lot of great technology into a first-class design.