Michael Steeber

Posts tagged iphone

iPhone 5S Review

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Note: This review is representative of the probable views and opinions of the collective technology community and doesn’t necessarily represent my true thoughts. 

When Steve Jobs stepped onto the stage at MacWorld 2007 and introduced the first iPhone to the masses, nobody could have guessed the kind of impact such a small device would have on the world. As the years passed, the iPhone grew incrementally, adding features here and there that seemed small at the time, but in the long haul played crucial roles in Apple’s strategy. The iPhone has always been about little details forming something larger- the sum of its parts. In the same vein, the iPhone 5S is truly the summation of over 6 years of hard work and innovation from Apple. That begs the question- how far have we truly come? Does the iPhone 5S live up to the long precedent of excellence set forth by Apple? Can the iPhone still remain the king of smartphones, or has Android finally taken the lead? Read on for my full review and find out. 

Design

As specified in its name, the iPhone 5S is an ’S’ phone- Apple’s way of saying that while the device looks basically the same, the internals have been completely reengineered. That said, holding an iPhone 5S will feel pretty familiar if you’re used to the iPhone 5. With the exception of the new, dual-LED flash, and the fingerprint sensor (more on that later,) everything looks pretty much the same. That is, unless you get the gold model. Traditionally, Apple has offered the iPhone in only white or black configurations. However, after 6 generations of the same color schemes, something was bound to change. You can debate all day about whether the color is really more of a “champagne” or “rose gold,” but for all practical purposes, it’s still gold. And boy, does it look amazing. I’ll admit, when I first heard rumors of a gold iPhone, I was quite skeptical myself of how it would look. The garish concept I pictured in my mind was a iPhone 5 with a 24 karat gold finish. The reality of it is far from that. More than ever, the iPhone is like a ‘finely crafted watch,’ finish and all. Photos don’t do it justice; you need to see this new color in person to truly appreciate how subtly classy it really is. 

Specs

Fulfilling the “S” model checklist, the iPhone 5S comes with radically improved internals, starting with the debut of the Apple A7 chip. Apple began creating their own, in-house mobile chips with the A4, found in the original iPad and iPhone 4 back in 2010, and the A7 is Apple’s latest and greatest offering. In benchmarks, the A7 chip appears to run about faster the A6, found in the iPhone 5. might not sound like a lot, but remember, the iPhone is no slouch when it comes to performance. In real life usage tests, iPhone 5S performance seems to be about on par with the iPhone 5. Most of the additional power, I’m hearing, is to make up for iOS 7, which has far more animations and graphical effects than iOS 6. In order to power such a beefy processor, Apple has upped the battery capacity in the iPhone 5S, entirely redesigning the logic board in order to fit more battery in the same svelte case. In testing, the battery in the iPhone 5S seemed about on par, if not slightly better than the one in my iPhone 5. 

Also new to the iPhone 5S is a remarkable 128GB model, effectively doubling the capacity of the previous high-end model. As more and more consumers move towards using iPhones and iPads as their main computers, it’s only a natural progression to see storage capacities increase at the same time. In fact, Apple did the same to the iPad this spring, releasing a 128GB model. Last but not least is the camera. As one of the only outward-facing hardware changes, Apple’s dedication to making the iPhone a great camera shines clear. Previous models of the iPhone, starting with the iPhone 4, included a rear LED flash. While this flash was good enough to get the job done, it was lacking. In true Apple fashion, the iPhone 5S gains a dual-LED flash, proving that Apple is still all about the details. What’s different here is that both LEDs are different colors, one white and the other having a more yellow hue. Not only does having two LEDs make low light photos look even brighter, it makes them look better. The iPhone’s software intelligently meters the quality and temperature of light in the scene before taking a photo, and fires the appropriate flash based on that. That, combined with an all new f/2.0 aperture makes the camera in the iPhone 5S the best yet, and even closer to being able to replace your primary camera. 

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Photo taken with the iPhone 5’s LED flash compared to the iPhone 5S

Of course, on top of all this technology is the gorgeous 4” retina display. From what I can tell, the color saturation and viewing angles appear to be identical to the iPhone 5. While there certainly isn’t anything wrong with the display, I can’t help but thinking that a little more screen real estate would be nice….

Last but not least, we come to the fingerprint sensor. This is entirely new territory for the iPhone, yes, but not the smartphone market as a whole. Phones like the Motorola Atrix have included fingerprint sensors in the past, but they weren’t really any good. Apple did it differently. Instead of adding an extra cutout or ugly indent for the fingerprint sensor, they integrated it right into a button you touch with your fingers all the time: the home button. Looking at the face of the iPhone, you wouldn’t suspect anything new. But underneath the home button’s new sapphire coating lies some impressive technology. Unfortunately, Apple isn’t doing a lot with it yet. Right now, the main feature of the fingerprint sensor is unlocking your phone, which makes for a cool demo, but little more. If Apple can make it work with payments, however, then they’ll be onto something. In the meantime, it’s a promising feature with a bright future. 

Software

While the iPhone 5S brings a host of new features to the table, the most intriguing addition isn’t the new camera, the gold color, or even the fingerprint sensor. It’s iOS 7. For the first time, iOS has received a complete, polarizing makeover. As part of Apple’s executive shakeup last year, we saw Jony Ive take the reigns of software design, and his influence is all over iOS 7. Gone are the stuffy textures, the dark, foreboding color schemes, replaced with clean lines, geometric shapes, and plenty of whitespace. Love it or hate, it’s a fresh new start for Apple, one that customers have been begging for for quite some time. 

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The design isn’t all that’s new, however. iOS 7 brings a host of new features that are bound to delight old and new users alike. Apple has focused on usability and accessibility with iOS 7, and nowhere is that more present than in Control Center. Finally, Apple has taken the initiative and brought quick controls accessible from anywhere. While they weren’t the first to do it, it’s arguably the best implementation I’ve seen. Also new is the Camera app, with a new shooting mode called “Square” and a selection of great looking filters for all the Instagram junkies out there. 

As a direct competitor to other streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify, Apple is launching iTunes Radio with iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, their own streaming service solution, built right on the backend of iTunes. Though it doesn’t boast quite as large of a feature set as its competitors, Apple is laying their cards on the table in hopes that iTunes Radio’s deep integration into iOS will prove itself successful. The best part is, if you subscribe to iTunes Match, Apple’s $25/year cloud music service, you can enjoy iTunes Radio completely ad free. 

Although there’s plenty of new features in iOS 7 I don’t have time to mention here, I’d like to point out one last addition called FaceTime Audio. All though you won’t see Apple heavily marketing it, it’s quite a powerful and disruptive feature. Essentially, you can now make audio only FaceTime calls, bypassing the need to use minutes provided by your phone carrier. If it catches on, it has the power to be as game-changing as iMessage was, and it’s one of my favorite new features in iOS 7

Conclusion

I’ll be honest: the iPhone 5S is an evolutionary, not revolutionary product. There’s nothing so unique about it that warrants an immediate upgrade from an iPhone 5. However, the iPhone 5S is, without a doubt, the best iPhone ever made. Building on the foundation of the iPhone 5, the 5S takes Apple in new directions both in terms of hardware and software. Most importantly, it’s proven to the world once again that Apple can still surprise and delight its customers, something often questioned in the Tim Cook era. Sure, the phone might look the same, but inside, it’s an entirely different animal. And that’s what Apple’s all about. Relentless iteration. The refinement of a craft. 

Filed under iphone 5s review iphone apple 5c gold ios 7 tech

A Week With Case1449’s iPhone 5 Bumper

When Apple announced the iPhone 5, I was hoping that they’d continue their bumper line of cases that they originally introduced for the iPhone 4 back in 2010. Unfortunately, since the iPhone 5 doesn’t share the same glass black construction as its predecessors, Apple decided not to refresh its hit cases. Now spoiled by bumper cases, I knew I had to find one for my iPhone 5. So far, the bumper from Case1449 is the closest one I’ve found to matching Apple’s quality. 

Upon purchasing my iPhone 5, I also picked up a cheap iPhone 5 bumper off of eBay. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the results. The case was warped, it was too thick, and the overall fit and finish left a lot to be desired. Thankfully, I was much more impressed with the bumper cases offered by Case1449. Let’s take a look. 

If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably mistake this bumper as an official Apple case without close inspection. For being less than 1/4 of the price of an official bumper at just $7, it’s very well made. I purchased the black model, and have been testing it out for the past week. It’s not quite up to par with an Apple bumper, but I wasn’t expecting it to be at such a low price. It fits excellently, and holds the phone snugly while still managing to be easier to remove than the official model for the iPhone 4/4S. The plastic is somewhat lower quality, and there’s a slight amount of plastic flashing present around the cutouts, but it’s nothing that’s really been a bother at all. In fact, when using the case, it feels no different than a standard Apple case. The only part of the construction that outwardly looks cheaper are the buttons, which instead of being metal are simply a metallic plastic. As you can see in the comparison, there’s a slight difference. 

Overall, even though it’s not perfect, the Case1449 bumper is currently my case of choice, and probably always will be, unless I find something just too good to pass up. The site offers a ton of different colors, including some awesome two-tone color schemes which look pretty unique. As a special bonus to all readers, Case1449 is offering a 15% discount on the purchase of your choice of any of the cases available on the site. Visit this link and use the coupon code “steeber” at checkout to get your discount. It’s a great case, and I’m extremely satisfied with it. 

Filed under tech iphone case iphone 5 bumper case1449