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10/17/2013
11:21 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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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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anon0879225698
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anon0879225698,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 4:43:33 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
nfuka: You just proved his own point.

And its not JUST maps that have issues. Apple is becoming more and more like microsloth everyday. And its just sad.
anon0879225698
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anon0879225698,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 4:45:12 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Why is everyone bringing up samdung?
You do know there are other cell phone manufacturers that come out with android phones right?

Do yourself a favor checkout the CA-201L (japanese version). Set the rom to english. I bet you will be impressed.
WilliamD914
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WilliamD914,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 4:47:11 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
"Why I Returned My iPhone 5s"

to get attention, of course.
anon0879225698
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anon0879225698,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 4:49:20 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Totally agree, the japanese version of the 4G LTE Commando is simply AWESOME! I'm glad someone finally brought it up.
Next in line in the states would be the HTC One TMobile version.
The TMobile version has full IRDA turned on both RX and TX.
Remote learning capabilities work fantastic.
nfuka
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nfuka,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 5:10:48 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Having used Android, Windows, Mac OS, iOS, I would argue that each has their own strengths and weaknesses. But if you are going to compare Windows to either Mac OS/iOS or Android, there is no comparison. Android crashes, freezes, and suffers from the usual other glitches one might associate with Windows MUCH more often than Apple operating systems do. This is not to say that Mac OS and iOS are free from frustration, but I find myself troubleshooting problems with my Apple devices MUCH less often than I do my Android and Windows computers/devices. And good luck getting assistance with Android or Windows. (ever try contacting Google or Microsoft, or talk with the clueless Verizon reps? Samsung is not much better, but at least they have some knowledgeable people. Apple excels in customer service; I think few people would disagree with this). That said, I like that I can add a custom ROM to my Android phones. But when a product just does not work, customization is meaningless (Samsung, I'm looking at you). Lastly, I'm not sure how I proved the author's point in my original post, but you are entitled to your opinion. If you are assuming that the Apple Maps fiasco proves the author's points, I could give you a few features that do not work as advertised on my GS4. I can use Google Maps on my iPhone. I have no choice but to suffer with the crappy features that fail to work more often than not on my GS4. I just wish that Samsung would not release features/phones that do not work as advertised, just as I do not like when Apple releases features/phones that do not work as advertised. But it's not as though Apple has cornered the market on this by any means.
anon0879225698
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anon0879225698,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 5:36:37 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Priceless. A apple lover who owns a GS4
Flyguy2929
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Flyguy2929,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 5:38:24 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Very valid point. From an experience, yes, the fingerprint scanner is the only significant difference. For me, I have a company issued 5s from which I was upgraded from the 5. The audio is significantly improved and I listen to a lot of music (the 4s is still king). In addition some of the more intensive apps load much faster, but not so much to add significant value over the 5. Apps crash more often and the iPhone music player has issued in playlist editing.

I agree that the 5s is probably not worth upgrading this time around for iPhone 5 users, but for iPhone 4/4s and new users, the value is good and a much better value over the 5c for $100 more.
Flyguy2929
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Flyguy2929,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 5:43:27 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Please keep on topic and not go down a Samsung rabbit hole. You have not used or lived with iOS7 and are trying to justify your S4 buying decision. Fine,I love my Note 3, but respect my company issued 5s. I would take a larger screen over a 4"any day of the week, but I would not arbitrarily call a a Note "so far beyond anything Apple has to offer" even though I am more qualified than you to make an assessment. I have heard some call the Nokia 1020 the equivalent to the elixir of youth since they value the camera.

Now on topic - The fingerprint scanner is very good, but I agree that it is the only significant user experience upgrade over the 5. The audio output is also waaaaay better on the 5s for those who listen to a lot of music (me). I take a lot of pictures and prefer the 5s over the 5 by leaps and bounds and think it is still better overall next to my Note. Obviously, the reviewer here isn't a piura taking fellow since he didn't score it as important to his personal user experience.
CLAFOUNTAIN100
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CLAFOUNTAIN100,
User Rank: Strategist
10/19/2013 | 6:15:16 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
Wait, man. Is that really all you got out of it? Eric said he had a iPhone 5, and the iPhone 5S was faster, didn't crash, because the iPhone 5 was better tested. As a result, it wasn't worth the $950, so he kept his old phone.

Am I missing something else?
anon0879225698
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anon0879225698,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2013 | 6:25:13 PM
re: Why I Returned My iPhone 5s
The fact of the matter is no one is looking at the device deeply enough to see that there are even more defects with the hardware than with the software itself.

Already we are seeing these affect....

Problems with:

Level sensor
Screen calibration issues
THX Enhancements that have been removed

This only. scratches. the. surface.!

I am actually disappointed with this review in a way. While the author does make some valid points he doesn't even scratch the surface with these issues.

ps: Interestingly enough the iPhone 5 (not the 5s/5c) had none of these problems.
Apple have also not yet added APT - X. Something that most android devices did over 2 years ago.
Cmon apple. WE KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER!
<<   <   Page 2 / 11   >   >>
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