This past week marks the seventh anniversary since the announcement of the original iPhone at the 2007 Apple's WWDC. I remember back in 2007 the main reason why I wanted a summer job was able to afford an iPhone, but all my hope was lost when I saw just how expansive the data plan was. The 2007 WWDC Keynote was probably Jobs best keynote; it still gives me chill. The iPhone really changes the entire phone market just what Apple did with the iPod for the music industry. So lets take a closer look at Apple’s newest entry of what they believe its the next generation of mobile technology.
This week marks the 30th Anniversary since Steve Jobs announced the Macintosh at the Flint Center on De Anza College's campus in Cupertino.
My iPhone 4 has served me well since I got it back 2010, so its been almost 4 years since my last smartphone update. A lot have changed in the mobile sphere during these four years. One thing for sure, Android has defiantly caught up with iOS and in many areas Android might have surpassed the iOS ecosystem. There are also new players in the market like the Windows Phone and the revamp of Blackberry.
That does not mean that Apple have stop the development for the iPhone and the iOS ecosystem, in many ways iOS ecosystem is still the leading mobile operating system in the world. In this review, I am going to try to explain why I decided to stayed with the Apple Ecosystem, and also my experience with the new iPhone 5s after three months of use.
The main reason why I stayed with the iPhone was the abundant apps ecosystem. Android might have caught up in term of quantity of apps, but in my opinion android/windows apps still lack in term of quality. The design and overall mobile app development the iOS still dominates in this area.
Nearly all of the major new apps are developed first for the iOS, then later ported to Android. With all the hardware advancement, at the end of the day it really comes down to the apps to take the advantages of those hardware.
The android fragmentation really limit the advancement in pushing the hardware since it has to support so many devices across the board. This where the iPhone ecosystem shines, with small number of devices to support, developers can really push the apps to fully utilize the dedicated hardware, and also apps can quickly update to accommodates the hardware changes (especially games). With apps like Dark Sky, Twitterrific, VSCO, and Fantastical we can really see why iOS ecosystem is still leading in the mobile app space.
4 vs 5s
Before we head on to the full iPhone 5S review, I want make a small comparison between iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5S. When I first saw the iPhone 4 at the Apple Store I was just amazed at the build quality.
I have never seen an electronic device with this much attention to details in term of industrial design. Steve Jobs described the iPhone 4 as: “It's like a beautiful old Leica camera”. Over the years, after three major OS updates the iPhone 4 still run pretty smoothly, but running the latest apps have much been a chore.
The iPhone 5/5s design was an evolution from the 4. In term of weight, the iPhone 5S is much lighter then the iPhone 4. The only significant different is the the screen size, with the iPhone 5 Apple introduce a new 4 inches display with retina display. The performance between the two device is world apart, the A7 chip inside of iPhone 5S is almost 30 times faster then the A4 chip thats inside of the iPhone 4. It's just crazy to see just how much 4 years can have impact on technology.
Design & Build Quality
The iPhone 5s build is superb, in my opinion its still the best in the industry. Jon Ivy and his team did an amazing job with every aspect of the phone, just like the iPhone 4 the attention to detail is unprecedented. The chamfer edges really gives a nice luxury feel to the overall look of the device.
The iPhone 5S came with three difference colors choices, not surprising the most popular color was the Gold iPhone. Thought I felt the Space Gray was a much better fit for me. Not gonna lie, the Gold/Champagne does look really nice in person.
It's still easy to hold on one hand and the retina display look better then ever. Even its not full HD but at nearly 340ppi the display still looks extremely crisp and smooth. Pictures and Videos look fantastic on the new 4 inches display.
I originally got the brown letter case, but after only two weeks of usage it look like something I picked up from the trash. Seem like Apple used a different type of leather than they use for those iPad Smart covers. I went back to the Apple Store and exchange it for a black version and it has served me well since.
Much of the design cue for the new iPad Air was taken from the iPad Mini and iPhone 5S. Apple has completely unify the look and feel for both the iPad and iPhone.
When I first saw the video of iOS 7 at last year WWDC I was very skeptical at the direction for this new revamp of the user interface. It seem it distance away what made the previous version so successful. I know that skeuomorphism might be bad in term of design, but it did give iOS its own distinct look.
After I installed on my old iPhone 4 and saw it for first time I realized this was a necessary step for Apple. iOS 7 new user interface really need to take some time to get use to. One of my favorite addition is the new mission control, finally its easy to access all the necessary One of my favorite addition is the new mission control, finally a easier way to access all the controls for network without the need to Jailbreak.
The minimalism approach for iOS 7 has been the big debate amount the community. Many love the design, but they are also numerous people who just hated it. I actually feel that Apple took the right approach to minimalism. There are many minimalism UX designs that took out the actual usage part of the design and instead only focus on the overall look and feel. iOS 7 is indeed a big step forward for Apple, but they need to make sure that this big step forward does not many leaving everything behind. iOS have always had an strong foundation for been simple and clear to use, so it must retain these key point to make sure it keep it that that way. Most people don't like changes especially to something they got so use to, a perfect example is to look at the user review of Windows 8. Changes can't happen over night, for people to accept change in the user experience it must happen gradually over period of time. I am pretty sure in the future updates they are going to refine this experiment to make it perfection. Thought there still a lot of bugs that need to be resolved in the next update but overall the OS is really stable.
All the OS native apps have been updated its UX design to match with iOS 7 and close to all the major third party apps have been updated their also. I think the new calendar app is my one of my favorite, its simple and extremely easy to use.
The Apple new A7 processor is indeed a 64bit but at first there seem no use since iPhone 5S only have 1GB of RAM. 64bit seem only useful when supporting a system with more than 4GB of RAM, but after careful research the 64bit does help increase in the performance of apps. Apple is the first company to introduce a 64bit dual core CPU, while most of other Quad-Core CPUs are only 32bit. With 64bit we might start seeing phones with 4 to 8GB of RAM in future phone, which bring the performance of mobile devices closer to the performance of a desktop.
Camera & Picture Quality
The camera of iPhone 5S is phenomenal and its probably one of the best smartphone camera out there. I’ve used the Lumia 1020 and was not overwhelm with the picture quality. The white balance and the color accuracy seem a bit off from my taste. With the new aperture at f/2.2 and the bigger sensor size the pictures from the 5s was pretty stunning. I haven’t play much with the new dual tone flash, but from look of it just give skin tone a much more natural look at night.
I just wished there was a manual controls for those wannabe photographers like me. Apple really put a lot of effort into the camera in the 5S, since this mobile photography has really start to taking off in the recent years thanks for apps like instagram. The software also got a big bump in iOS 7, they finally added burst mode where you can take close to 10 shots per second, and on the video side they added slo-mo recording at 720p.
Since I got the iPhone 5s it has been my primary camera almost everywhere I go. Its so much lighter then my D800 and does great job indoor and outdoor for almost 95% of the time. The image comes crisp and clean, and the white balance is almost spot on, except for some harsh indoor shots. Below are some shots I took with the iPhone 5S during the last few months (edited with VSCOcam).
And finally lets talk about this fingerprint sensor, well lets just say it only works half of the time. I got so use to login with my passcode that I feel the fingerprint ID is actually slowing me down. iOS 7 still have a lot of bugs to deal with and this is one of them, sometime when I try to login with the fingerprint ID it crashes the whole phone cause it to restart. If the home button gets a bit greasy or cover with dust its almost impossible to use the touch ID, you must keep the home button clean at all time to be able to use this function properly. I think this might be a early stage for Apple, and should be get better with software update. Thought I gotta say it really help when you try to purchase apps or music especially those of you who have extremely long iTunes password.
In conclusion, the iPhone 5S is still one of the best smartphone out there, the competition might have caught up in term of specs, but in overall user experience and its app ecosystem the iPhone 5S is still the leader. There so many company like Samsung and LG who are trying to jump the shark in term of innovation, but never realize that to be innovative the company must know the term refinement. Company like Samsung keep introducing these new also useless feature on every revision of their phones, but never seem to refine on the existing feature when its comes to update. Eventually you will end up with all of these beta bloatware that just taking up valuable space on your phone. If I ever gonna get an android device, it have to be an pure android phone like the nexus. I am excited to see what the future behold for the mobile sphere but till then my iPhone 5S will serve me well for next four years.
- Amazing build quality and surprising light.
- Superb integration between the camera (f/2.2) and software
- Accurate white balance and color reproduction
- Great CPU/GPU Performance with new A7 64bit
- Still can be use with one hand
- iOS 7 still need a bit more refinement
- Fingerprint reader only work half of the time.
- Wish theres more sharing option then just Twitter and Facebook
- Battery Life
- The Safari icon