Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
10/17/2013
11:21 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Why I Returned My iPhone 5s

The iPhone 5s is a fine smartphone -- but it's not much different from the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5c, 5s: 10 Smart Design Choices
iPhone 5c, 5s: 10 Smart Design Choices
(click image for larger view)
After using the iPhone 5s for 25 days, I returned it to Apple. Apple graciously accepted the return with no trouble, as I was just within the 30-day limit. I liked the iPhone 5s, but I had several reasons for sending it back.

I recently described what it was like to live with the iPhone 5s for a week. Those observations haven't changed. I stand by all those statements.

Some background: I paid full price for the iPhone 5s because I didn't want to extend my contract. That means I spent more than $900 on the device including Apple Care and an upgrade to the 32-GB model. That's a lot of money. I already own an iPhone 5, which I purchased last year. The iPhone 5 runs iOS 7, which is the same operating system on the 5s.

The biggest reason I returned the iPhone 5s is because it didn't offer a different experience from the iPhone 5. Aside from the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, there was no obvious change in how the device performed. Sure, the 5s has a slightly better camera and faster processor, but the difference in performance is hardly noticeable. If you look at it from this angle, I spent $900 to get a fingerprint sensor. Let me tell you something: I don't need a fingerprint sensor on my smartphone. At least, not right now.

[ More iPhone shopping advice: 5 Questions To Ask Before Buying A New iPhone. ]

Also, the iPhone 5 offers several things the 5s does not. For starters, it is free of bugs. iOS 7 runs flawlessly on the iPhone 5. iOS 7 on the 5s was a bug-ridden mess. Apps crashed constantly, and the 5s was prone to random reboots. Reboots are rather inconvenient when you're speaking to someone on the phone. Speaking of the phone, the call quality on the iPhone 5 is slightly better than on the 5s. It has a warmer sound that I prefer over the 5s.

Another gripe I have is Apple's entire concept of keeping the same design for its smartphones for two years. The 5s is identical to the iPhone 5 in size, shape and basic appearance, save for the color. The iPhone 4 and 4S were identical, as were the iPhone 3G and 3GS. I find this approach to be lazy. Don't get me wrong -- I fully appreciate how much work goes into designing smartphones and all the engineering needed to make everything fit into such a tiny space. One look at Apple's competitors, however, and it's hard for me to digest Apple's strategy.

Samsung brings dozens of new smartphones to the market each year, all of which have their own design. Samsung makes iterative updates to its products too, but when you look at the progression of hardware such as the Galaxy Note, Note 2 and Note 3, you see marked improvements year over year. Same with the GS4 and other Samsung devices. The same can be said of LG, Motorola, Nokia, HTC and other phone makers.

Surely Apple could create a unique phone each year. It simply chooses not to. I understand its thinking and strategy here, but as a consumer and as a tech journalist, I want to see Apple do more.

If I am going to pay between $500 and $900 for a smartphone each year, I want it to be different from the one I had before. With the iPhone 5s, there simply isn't enough of a difference for it to be worth the money. If you're upgrading from an iPhone 4s, it's a big step up. If you're coming from an iPhone 5, it's more of the same. If Apple decides to make an iPhone with a bigger screen or some other major alteration to the hardware, then perhaps I'll buy it and stick with it. From now on, however, I plan to skip Apple's "S" years.

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mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2013 | 8:57:34 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
The author mentions $900 several times, and just a few comments about it. This is an overpriced piece of ... technology.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2013 | 8:41:23 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
you made my day
dissi201
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dissi201,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2013 | 8:08:30 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
So GǪ lots of problems with the iOS7 on your 5S. Since you actually bought Applecare, did you call them with your issues? Did you ACTUALLY troubleshoot the problems GǪ beginning with a re-install of your system? I've known a few folks that believed you could directly download iOS from the internet and install on your iPhone GǪ or any phone and expect 100% success. You should have downloaded first and THEN install. Yes GǪ know 5S comes with iOS7 installed. I had the same experience with iOS6 to my iPhone 5 GǪ and guess what? Problems later I reinstalled. Smooth sailing from then on.
Aroper-VEC
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Aroper-VEC,
User Rank: Strategist
10/21/2013 | 6:08:59 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
I agree... Substantively, this article lacks any real depth - no investigation and only anecdotal evidence. Of course, I think anyone would have some buyer's remorse if they spent nearly $1K on a smartphone and wasn't overwhelmed by the experience. The few points mentioned could have had more backing with real data and some investigative reporting. Plus, it's important to note that Samsung and the other players put out new phones all the time because they are marketing to a different demographic - everyone that's not an Apple consumer and/or doesn't want to be.

Personally, I think Apple introduced the "S" cycle only because of investor demand/pressure. Even at the time of the first "S" release, Apple was criticized for not doing more. OK, so what were they supposed to do? Hold out until the iPhone 4? Then they would have been vilified for not having a new product for the holidays' sales season.

It is really easy to pick on Apple. It's also really easy to pick on Microsoft. I think this is because they were the "first" to do anything and automatically generate "haters". This is no different than people who "hate" a particular ball team or player only because they are having success. It must be an envy thing. I'm sure there are Samsung haters out there. Write an article about Samsung and see how many come out....
aflaidar980
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aflaidar980,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2013 | 5:53:55 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
5s camera is not just "slightly improved". Dynamic range is over one stop better than in 5, panorama mode is capable of per frame HDR compensation, fast hardware allows for multiple shots series. I also use an 5 / iOS 7 and I can tell it hiccups now and then for lack of processing power, where 5s is a fluid experience.
Overall this article is nothing but the standard unsubstantiated, provocative post which adds up to the Internet noise. Perhaps understandable from a fanboy craving for attention but inexcusable from a magazine with higher aim.
AllenJ031
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AllenJ031,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2013 | 4:35:06 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
I completely agree. I have an iPhone 5 which works great. I also have a Google Nexus 4 which also works very well. If I compare price, I also bought my T-Mobile iPhone out right and paid around $650 as I recall. I bought the Nexus 4 16gb for $250 a month ago and it does everything the iPhone does plus NFC, inductive charging, etc. As to the apps, every app I have on the iPhone is on the Nexus 4, so like Eric says, I won't be getting a new iPhone until a bigger screen and features show up.
rhoffman037
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rhoffman037,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2013 | 4:32:16 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
You failed to make a comment that was moderately interesting, or contained any actual content.
rhoffman037
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rhoffman037,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2013 | 4:29:04 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Well...the usual numbers game. Objective benchmarks have the 5S smoking every other smartphone of any configuration. Not to say that the 5S is an ideal phone, just that, at the moment, it's the fastest, number games aside.
Aroper-VEC
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Aroper-VEC,
User Rank: Strategist
10/21/2013 | 4:28:06 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Those are cool features and that's just a matter of software code, but how long does your battery last with those features enabled? I know a lot of people with S4 and, while they love those features, they've all noticed that it's a huge drain on battery life. An active screensaver is cool, but also taxes the battery. Some features are nice, but sacrifice battery longevity because of the extra CPU cycles and memory refreshes to keep the content active or to process the incoming data.

I am curious about how well the facial recognition and eye tracking features work in low to no-light environments. I haven't seen a smartphone yet that had enough ambient light emanating from the screen to allow the camera to pick up the imagery.

Please be aware that I am only making some comparisons and contrasts here. Every phone is different, but it's not "fair" to compare oranges with bananas. While it's easy to point something another manufacturer has done that is different and call it innovation, if that innovation comprises other more important features then it's not really much of an innovation. We typically refer to those features as "bells and whistles" - they look flashy and sound real nice but have no practical value.
sfreeves
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sfreeves,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/21/2013 | 2:45:11 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
These reasons are the same reasons I switched from Apple iPhone 5 to the Samsung Galaxy S4. Apple changed the game when it announced the iPhone, but since then they have been making small changes and updates while all the other smartphone providers have been making huge advancements. I could have purchased the iPhone 5s and I am pretty surprised I didn't because I am an Apple supporter, but after reading the specs I knew it would be just like my iPhone 5 so I switched to an entirely new OS and phone and lets just say I LOVE IT!!
<<   <   Page 3 / 11   >   >>
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