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9/27/2013
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Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week

From iOS 7 to battery life, here's what I have noticed while getting to know Apple's iPhone 5s.

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I've spent a week using the Apple iPhone 5s as my primary device. In general, it is a solid effort on Apple's part, but it is not without its faults. Here are some of the strong points and weak points I've observed over the last seven days.

iOS 7 is a bit buggy on the 5s. I've installed iOS 7 on an iPhone 5, an iPad 3, and an iPad Mini. It runs best on the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini. On the iPhone 5s, iOS 7 is prone to app crashes. Third-party app crashes aren't too awful, but when native apps such as the Settings Menu and Safari crash, you know something's not right.

The hardware is fine, if unexciting. The 5s is a solid little device. Apple designed it with care and everything about it exudes quality and class. The display is great, even if it is smaller than I'd like, and the small form factor makes it easy to carry around and use.

[ For more on the iPhone 5s and the colorful, less expensive 5c, see Apple iPhone 5s, 5c: Pros And Cons. ]

It's not the best voice phone. I've been testing an AT&T model of the iPhone 5s and am not impressed with its phone calls. I heard lots of interference and the earpiece speaker doesn't get quite loud enough. The speakerphone produces plenty of volume, but it also amplifies the interference. The iPhone is a better voice phone.

The battery hasn't given me any trouble. The first few days were a bit iffy, but that's true of most smartphones. Once the battery cycled through a few charges, it settled into a good rhythm. I routinely got a full day out of it, despite heavy use. It's worth noting, though, that the battery cannot be removed or replaced, so you're stuck with what's sealed in the iPhone 5s.

The camera is great. The new software, combined with the improved sensor, go a long way toward making the iPhone 5s one of the best camera phones available. The camera app is simpler to use and includes more features, such as burst mode and slow-motion video capture, and the results are on par with today's best devices. The improved gallery app is far more powerful when it comes to organizing photos, and some of the editing tools are a welcome addition.

iOS 7 is still inflexible. Apple's simple smartphone/tablet user interface may win usability awards, but it is nowhere near as flexible or customizable as Android or even Windows Phone. The inability to control exactly where apps are positioned is frustrating, and the lack of resizable home screen widgets and apps leaves the OS looking too homogenous. I'd love to see some truly dynamic content on the home screen.

Control Center is convenient. Apple's new dashboard for controlling some of the iPhone 5s's features is a big help. It makes simple tasks such as turning on and off the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radios a breeze. I also like the fact that it includes controls for the music player as well as apps like the flashlight, calculator, timer, and camera. This is definitely a time saver, considering that it took several steps to reach many of these controls in previous versions of iOS.

There's plenty to like about the 5s, but at the end of the day it offers only a slightly different experience than last year's iPhone 5. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor is the biggest difference. The camera and processor improvements in the 5s, though very real, aren't all that much better than the iPhone 5. We can only hope that Apple will make significant changes in next year's iPhone 6.

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JtH833
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JtH833,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2013 | 11:15:16 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
I think he means literally flexible, Samsung demoed bendable/foldable screens at CES
JtH833
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JtH833,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2013 | 11:14:16 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
So what, yeah they are refinements, good ones. Why shouldn't they refine? Why does everyone hold them to this absurd standard that they have to release a brand new phone every single year and it has to be totally different and new! lol. Makes no sense. What we have is good, and people shouldn't feel like they have to upgrade every time a new one comes out. Can you imagine the expense if people felt that way about home computers?
JtH833
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JtH833,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2013 | 11:12:37 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
Apparently you care. A lot.
JtH833
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JtH833,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2013 | 11:11:30 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
It's normal, aren't you used to it by now? Every time a new iPhone comes out (or any Apple product for that matter) people say "omg it looks the same, they can't innovate any more, it will never sell, this is the death of Apple!!!!" And then that product comes out, and it usually sells massively better than any product they've ever released before.
JtH833
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JtH833,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2013 | 11:09:46 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
It really depends what you do with your phone. If you enjoy gaming, there isn't even a remote comparison. The 5S is a bajillion and a half times better. It's like a pocket PC, the specs are every bit as good as desktops from not too long ago.
JtH833
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JtH833,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2013 | 11:08:15 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
On my 4, it seems more stable than ever and a lot faster too.
JtH833
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JtH833,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2013 | 11:06:03 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
I have a 4, and upgrading to iOS 7 made it significantly faster in many, many ways. It was getting extremely sluggish and iOS 7 actually improved it so much that I considered delaying the upgrade I was planning on making (but then decided against it since I can get $200 for my current phone and essentially upgrade for free).

Tell your friend to turn off the 3D effects. My buddy had an iPad that wasn't performing that great when he upgraded to iOS 7, and turning the 3d effects off made it faster than ever. But that's a non-issue on the 4, because it won't even support them :p

Anyway I would definitely recommend getting iOS 7 if you're worried about speed, it definitely seems improved in that regard and I think it's just the graphical effects that are slowing down the older devices.
JtH833
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JtH833,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2013 | 11:04:24 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
If you think that the 5s doesn't offer a dramatically different experience than the 5, you don't use your phone very extensively.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/30/2013 | 9:48:23 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
I've had no app stability issues, but have noticed power draining faster than before.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
9/30/2013 | 9:02:09 PM
re: Apple iPhone 5s: My First Week
What is a flexible phone? Do you mean like the Ubuntu Edge?
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