Review Of The New iPhone 5s

19 October 2013

I've had the new iPhone 5s for a week now, and it is another great phone by Apple. I purchased the silver 32GB model on AT&T which is a bump up in spec for me. Normally I buy the smallest capacity phone, but for no reason in particular I went with the 32GB version. I seriously considered the gold colored one for a while but decided I did not want to come across as too flashy with my "gold iPhone" and make it seem like I wanted attention because of it. I believe the silver one looks more classy and sophisticated - less flashy.

I am very impressed with the build quality and aesthetics of it. I find it simply amazing that they are able to pack so much technology into such a small device. The tolerances and near perfect fit of all the housing pieces are superb. It is incredible how they are able to mass produce these and have such high quality standards at the same time.

The Retina screen is beautiful as well and almost seems to have a more rich depth of color than the iPhone 4S I had. The glass screen also feels more smooth as well.

I was skeptical about the added length of the iPhone 5 over the previous generations because I liked the compact size of them. However, the added length is not a burden at all and makes the phone seem so much bigger when it is only a small increase.

The Touch ID sensor is also a very convenient feature which allows you to secure your phone with a passcode and gain easy access with merely a touch of your finger. It was very easy to set up and works extraordinarily fast. All you do it press the Home button, let up from the depress while leaving your finger on the button, and in milliseconds you are logged into the phone. It also works great with making purchases via the iTunes Store as well.

Some people seem to think that the Touch ID is meant as a pure security feature when I do not think that is what Apple intended it to be. It is no secret that that biometric sensors like these can be spoofed, and the Touch ID has been too. Folks also get the terminology incorrect as well. I see people saying that Touch ID has already been 'hacked' and that makes it useless. The term hacked implies that the technology and code have been compromised, but it has not. What they really mean is that the sensor has been 'spoofed,' meaning that it was fooled into believing that the fingerprint it scanned was that of the actual owner. Instead, the owners fingerprint was duplicated on synthetic material and used to gain access to the phone. That is vastly different from hacking it. Apple is marketing Touch ID as a convenience feature and not so much a security feature which I think is probably a good idea.

Hardware Performance

The performance of the iPhone 5s hardware is very good and much more noticeable over that of the iPhone 4S and iPad 3. With iOS 7, I did not think it ran badly at all on the 4S and iPad 3, but now that I compare the iPhone 5s to the iPad 3, the iPad drags behind in a significant way. iPad 3 is way slow, and I have to wait longer for any task I do on it. The iPhone 5s just screams right along with speed and does not show any signs of bad performance. The difference between the 5s and the iPad is so much that I now want to buy the upcoming iPad so that I have something that performs well on iOS 7.

Continuing on with the iPhone 5s performance theme, I put it to test this week while driving along the highway. I have a windshield mount for it and ran a Lightning cable through the dashboard, up the A-pillar and across the top of the windshield to where the phone rests. That cable is plugged into an older Alpine stereo head unit. This Alpine stereo came out and was compatible with the iPhone 3G and iOS 4 along with various models of the iPod. iOS 7 works well with it despite the Alpine having much older firmware not meant to work with such newer operating systems.

Some of the tasks I put the iPhone 5s through as I drove along are as follows:

Used Siri to take me to a destination. It found my destination of choice in my contacts list, loaded Apple Maps and began navigation. When Siri's navigation voice would speak, it would come across the car speakers nice and loud so you could hear it.

While navigating, I used Siri to play an album of music, including, at times, iTunes Radio. While the music was playing the navigation feature would turn the volume of the music down so you could hear which way to go then would turn the music back up.

While navigating and playing music I used Siri to read new, incoming emails and text messages as well as reply to them. All this could be done nearly hand-free as all I had to do was press the Home button to activate Siri.

Playing music to the old Alpine unit can be clunky sometimes. Most of the time it will correctly display the track and album information that is playing. But not always. Sometimes if I was interacting with Siri and asked to change the album or song, the stereo would continue to display the previous information. Usually, it seemed that it would take until the song changed on its own to display the correct information. Also, sometimes, the play/pause feature would get confused after Siri changed what it was playing and I'd have to press the button to unconfuse it.

Though it is not recommended, I did test out FaceTime while navigating, listening to music and driving. The phone was mounted above me on the windshield, slightly to the right, near the rearview mirror. I asked Siri to place a FaceTime call to a friend, and it worked great. It muted the navigation and music so I could participate in the call. When a turn was approaching, I could hear a beep alerting me to an upcoming change in navigation. one thing that I did not care for was that FaceTime and regular telephone calls did not play over the car speakers, but only from the built in phone speaker, so it was hard to hear sometimes.

Lastly, by having the iPhone plugged into the stereo, it also charges it which is nice.

I haven't played with the camera too much yet, but the improved LED flash does seem to work better in low-light conditions than previous iPhones. Additionally, the 'burst mode' is exceptionally fast - more so than you would expect. I am not a big photographer type of person so I could not make any type of educated review of it. All I will say though is it is very nice, fast and takes great pictures.

All in all, the new iPhone is a hit in my book. It is another beautiful design which performs exceptionally well and fits all of my needs in a mobile device.

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