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Notes on the iPhone 5s

Everyone and their brother has written their reviews of the iPhone 5s since its release a few weeks ago. I got a 5s a few days after the launch and have been putting it through its paces with long workdays and my normal heavy use.

My reaction to the 5s is somewhat muted. I think this owes to the fact that I’ve been an iOS7 user since the release of the beta back in June. Many new 5s users are reacting to both the new phone and the milestone OS update that launched alongside it. I can understand the shock – there are some huge differences between iOS6 and iOS7 which take some getting used to.

Here’s my bullet-list take on the iPhone 5s

  • I like the fingerprint sensor in that it’s quicker in theory than typing my code over and over. In reality though, I had a timeout on my old code which meant that, if I turned off my screen for a minute and came to the phone, I didn’t have to enter the code again. That delay was adjustable for me (to a minute or two) so I wasn’t constantly entering my code as some people have to do due to the demands of their work IT policy. Once you enable Touch ID, you have to use the fingerprint sensor to activate the phone, period. There’s no adjustable delay. I think it is costing me, overall, some wasted time albeit at greatly increased security.
  • Touch ID is fast; a lot faster than I thought it would be. That said, it doesn’t always work on the first try. 1 The system seemed more accurate on day 1 and 2 and seems to be less accurate as time wears on. This could be due to the weather getting increasingly dry and/or cold. It could be that I’m trying to unlock it with my finger in weird positions. Who knows? Either way, when it works its magic, but when it doesn’t, I feel my bloodpressure rise accordingly.
  • I like the new Home button. it feels smaller and snappier. I do sort of miss the distinctive “app square” in the center of it, but I’ll get over it.
  • It is really fast. You can see the difference when you open the Camera app or switch to other processor-intensive apps like Photos or Mail.
  • It seems to run cooler than the iPhone 5. I have less of those “Oh god why is this phone so warm in my pocket?” moments which is comforting, I guess.
  • The battery life is pretty insane. I’ve gone a whole day on a single overnight charge.
  • I like the styling and the color (space grey) quite a bit. My “old” iPhone 5 was getting that “battered Han Solo blaster” look which I cherished but this looks plenty good.
  • The camera is noticeably faster and takes nicer pictures.

Overall, I’m happy with the upgrade so far. The “wow factor” wasn’t there with this phone like it was with the iPhone 5 but there’s a lot more going on under the hood which I think will bear fruit as more developers take advantage of the processor and motion tracking/sensing technology.

Recommendations are tough with this one, however. If you have an iPhone 5, I actually think you’ll be fine with it for a while longer so don’t rush out and stand in line or cry when your phone is backordered for a month. If you’re on an iPhone 4 or 4S, you’ll be pretty astounded at what this phone can do and I’d recommend trading up as soon as you can.

  1. Maybe I should re-phrase this bullet point as “It’s fast when it works on the first try.”?