My Review of the iPhone 5S

I finally received my iPhone 5S on Friday. Yes, as much as I love my Apple products, I really have no interest or desire to wait on lines for hours to buy a new device. I admire those who do this, but to me, I would prefer to order mine online and wait the extra time. Anticipation can be difficult, especially as others have already purchased their devices, but I can live with it and I usually have enough here to distract me anyway to keep me busy so that I don’t really think about how much time I have before I receive mine … Really, I don’t think about that at all ….

Fortunately, I didn’t have any crazy experiences during the ordering process. In fact, it’s actually a great story. I used the Apple Store application for the iPhone to place my order.

I ordered my 5S on September 20 at around 9:05 in the morning. I launched the Apple Store app on my iPhone 5, which had to update itself, and went through the ordering process in less than 5 minutes.
• 16 GB model
• Space Gray
• no extra case
• Apple Care included

That was it. It was a completely painless operation. So much, so, in fact, that I found myself calling the Apple Store later just to be sure the order had been placed, even as I did receive an email confirmation.I am not going to try to re-event the wheel here. A lot of people have done reviews on the iPhone 5S, and I don’t believe I can add much that hasn’t already been written. So, I’ll just toss out some passing observations and thoughts that have occurred to me from my own experiences. Many will echo those of others, but so be it.

Touch ID

I had read and heard a lot about this feature, and to be honest, this was one of the two reasons why I chose to jump only from the iPhone 5 to 5S beyond business considerations. Besides the 5S having a 64-bit processor, I really wanted to use Touch-ID. I stopped using a passcode lock on my iPhones a few years ago when it just got to be too inconvenient to keep doing so. However, I always have been uncomfortable with the knowledge that my phone could be lost or stolen and easily accessed.

For those who ask right away, the process of setting up Touch-ID is completely accessible. In fact, it’s easy. You simply follow the verbal instructions and place a finger on the home button when you are prompted to do so, and then remove that finger when told to do so. You have to do this several times, but you also need to change the position of the finger each time so a complete print can be registered from various angles. You can set up individual fingerprints for as many fingers as you need. I chose my left index finger and right thumb to start,as I usually use these fingers the most when I unlock the phone, depending on the situation.

The process takes just a minute or so in total, and you can, in Settings under Passcode and Fingerprints, edit, delete or add additional fingerprints after the fact. I read somewhere that someone even used a paw print of their cat just to see what would happen.

Note that you have to use a passcode in conjunction with Touch-ID. They are currently not independent. However, the only time you need to enter your passcode is after the phone restarts for the first time. Otherwise, you use your fingerprint to unlock the phone and can set it up for iTunes and App Store purchases if you choose to allow this during the setup process.

How does it work?

Touch-ID is so simple that even I can use it once it is set up. The home button is the sensor for detecting your fingerprint. So, when you are on the lock screen, you just place one of your fingers on the home button for a moment and the phone unlocks. Yes, that’s all you do. It was, to be honest, a bit disconcerting at first, and, yes, I sat there messing with it for a good ten minutes the first time I was using it.

You must use a finger that you registered during the Touch-ID setup process or have added later. Otherwise, it doesn’t work, and you will be told to, “try again”. Again, you can add additional prints when or if necessary.

When making iTunes or App Store purchases, at the point in which you’d normally be asked to type your Apple ID password, instead, you are prompted to place a finger on the home button to be scanned. Once you do this, provided it is one of the fingers you have used to register with the Touch-ID system the purchase is completed and the download begins. I have had occasions in which I have been asked to type in my password anyway to update security, but I have only had this occur once.

iOS 7 on the iPhone 5S

I have heard some folks say that they don’t notice a difference between the iPhone 5 and 5S when it comes to iOS 7. I do. It’s not considerable, but iOS 7 is clearly optimized to run on the 5S. It just seems a lot more solid and smoother on the 5S in all areas, and, yes, a bit faster too.

I don’t know how much this has to do with the 64-bit processor architecture, but apps seem to load a bit faster to me. The phone also restarts or boots up a bit quicker as well. Even SIRI seems a touch more responsive on my 5S than it did on the 5. Again, though, I will say that these differences are not enough to “wow” the user, but if you pay attention and have a feel for your previous device (Note that I’m comparing this to an iPhone 5), you will notice them.

SIRI

This is more of an iOS 7 specific observation, but I am loving SIRI now even more on the 5S. To be able to turn off and on settings, including VoiceOver, is a great thing. Also, the new voices are an improvement, though I have found some odd pronunciation situations, even with contacts that I have specifically added such details to with SIRI itself. I’ve been told that the voices for SIRI are not on the phone itself, which could explain that and the occasional delays in responses as well.

Other than that, though, besides some occasional flakiness with there being no immediate response or, in other instances, a delay before responses, SIRI is snappier and more reliable. The improvements to recognition accuracy I have read about in some places is also present. There are still mistakes, and I have my moments of “fighting” with SIRI, but the improvements are enough to strike me as being noticeable.

VoiceOver

Again, in my opinion, it just seems that VoiceOver runs even better on the 5S with iOS 7 than the iPhone 5. I still have the occasional focus oddities, but that is not a show stopper to me in the least. I find responsiveness to be better, and, by the way, in case some are wondering, turning on the Reduce Motion setting in Accessibility Settings doesn’t seem to have any effect on VoiceOver to me. I have read in some places people claiming this speeds up VoiceOver, but I have not witnessed this. Turning off Sound Effects actually does make a slight difference in VoiceOver’s responsiveness as it seems a little faster, but I prefer having the sound effects turned on.

For those who are not aware or who haven’t tried it, the handwriting feature for inputting text is simply amazing. I mentioned this in my iOS 7 review, but I’ll say it again. If you know how to write printed letters and numbers, give it a try with VoiceOver. You must add it to the rotor in VoiceOver Settings, but once you do, it’s easily available and you can even write your passcode to enter it if you need to do so. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Although you can use SIRI to control many of the features of the phone, Control Center is still a great addition to iOS 7. The three finger swipe up from the status bar or a single finger swipe up from the bottom of the screen in the lock screen or the home screen when you hear that chirping sound makes getting to the Control Center a snap. You can also use a three finger swipe up in the App Switcher to close running applications as well, and I have taken to this gesture rather quickly in my daily use of the 5S, as I did on the 5. Also, as I mentioned in my thoughts about iOS 7, the four finger double tap to access the VoiceOver Practice area is one of the best new additions from a trainer’s perspective.

One Little Bug with the 5S

As far as I know, this oddity is specific to the 5S, and I have experienced it. If you try to adjust the volume of VoiceOver from the rotor, it will get stuck on a value and you cannot get it to go any louder. It’s a strange one for sure, but it exists on mine. The work around, however, is to simply use the volume buttons on the device itself while VoiceOver is speaking to adjust the volume. This solved the problem, and you can still easily change the VO volume as needed.

Other Random Observations

So there is a complete understanding here, the iPhone 5S is not a physical makeover of the iPhone itself. If you have an iPhone 5, you will notice know physical difference when you hold a 5S. It’s the same form factor. Obviously, the processor and the addition of Touch-ID are the hardware changes, aside from the 3 color options of the 5S, gold, silver and space gray. BTW, my iPhone, as I mentioned earlier, is space gray …. yeah, I guess I am boring ….

Battery life on the 5S does seem a bit longer than on my 5. At least, this has been my initial reaction. I got mine Friday afternoon and it was at 90 percent at the time I started using it. At the moment, I have yet to recharge it, but note that I have not been using it as much over the weekend than I normally do during the week.

If you are looking for a protective case for the 5S, please note that you must purchase one made for the 5S. Although the 5S is physically the same as the 5, many cases cover the home button. If you intend on using Touch-ID, you will not be able to do so if the home button is covered. I believe the OtterBox Defender has a version out for the 5S, or at least, this is what I have read on the email lists.

Conclusions

Apple Definitely has another winner. You may say this is the opinion of just another Apple fan boy, but market sales basically speak volumes. Some of the so called “experts” and a number of the collection of idiots who go under the category of the “media” in this country predicted the 5S would be a flop for Apple. This has been far from the case. The 5C and the 5S are dominating the market right now, as iPhone conversions from Android have been noticeable enough to have actually been accurately reported by some news outlets.

If you are an iPhone 4 or 4S user, the 5S is definitely worth the upgrade. I’d do it in a heartbeat. You will notice a considerable difference and will find the 5S a pure pleasure to use.

If you are an iPhone 5 user, the upgrade is not one I’d say you should find yourself compelled to do. If Touch-ID is that critical to you, well, that’s your call, but I feel that a 5 will surely get you through to the end of a two year contract if you are in that position. It’s just not worth the money to go from the 5 to the 5S if you don’t have to do so.

If you are an Android user, why are you wasting your time in the first place? You should have switched to an iPhone Long Ago … . Obviously, the opinions expressed here are my own, and since it’s my site, well, if you don’t like them, too bad. *grin*

Seriously, though, I am truly happy with the iPhone 5S. Even though I jumped from the iPhone 5, to me, the purchase was worth the money. The inclusion of the 64-bit processor and Touch-ID system only makes me look forward to what Apple will come out with next.

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One Response to My Review of the iPhone 5S

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