iPhone 5S Review

The iPhone 5S is finally here. I managed to get my hands on one and have been using it for a while now. For a long time I had no desire to get an iPhone. I was a fan of Android and didn't ever consider the previously released iPhone 5. Then iOS 7 came along and gave the iPhone a refresh. I decided that the refresh was good enough to get me interested again. So here I am, doing what I told many people to avoid, buying an iPhone.

HARDWARE

Screen

There really is nothing different about the screen here, it still has a 1136 x 640 display. This looks great on a 4-inch screen. The pixel density is high enough not care that phones like the HTC One has a 1920 x 1080 display. The pixel density of the iPhone 5s is 326 pixels-per-inch and the HTC One is 469 pixels-per-inch. You really cannot tell between the two in my honest opinion.

TouchID

The iPhone 5s has many new improvements, most notable is the new fingerprint scanner, or Touch ID, built into the home button. I've found this feature to actually be very convenient. When I was using the HTC One, which ran Android, I opted not to have a passcode or pattern to protect my phone from prying eyes. To me it became annoying to constantly enter a passcode every time you wanted to check your phone. With the Touch ID all you really do is press the home button to wake the device up, then leave your finger resting on it. It unlocks as simply as that. Also making purchases requires your fingerprint, which is another convenience. Although, every once and a while it still asks for your password to verify. After using your fingerprint, a password feels so tedious.

Camera

Another improvement is in the camera. The new camera has 8 megapixels with 1.5µ pixels with a ƒ/2.2 aperture lens and a new True Tone flash, which really produces crisp and vivid photos. Now these 1.5µ pixels really show an improvement over previous iPhones. I've found myself very impressed with the results and you can see some sample photographs below. 

The front-facing FaceTime camera also is as good as you would need with 1.2 megapixel photos. I really don't spend any time taking "selfies" so I haven't spent much time using that camera. Though in the tests, the results were good. 

One of the new features of the camera is a very stunning panorama mode, which matches the exposure to make truly seamless panoramas. 

Now you can record video at 120 fps which is great if you are recording things like sports events, or your friend doing something stupid. This will be able to let you relive the action in true slow motion. I am sure this will improve the viewing quality of Youtube fails. Which I personally think is the best part.

Processor

Now it comes to the processor, the new A7 chip, which is very fast. It is the first 64 bit processor in a mobile phone. To me this seems more of a future proofing decision as the iPhone 5S still has 1GB of ram. There are some other improvement a 64 bit processor brings, but we can't really see what it can do until developers begin releasing apps built with the new processor in mind.  Seeing as I haven't used the iPhone 5, I can't say how much faster it is. But compared to the HTC One, I've noticed there's less lag. 

There is also a dedicated motion processor called the M7. Again, with this we really won't see what it can do until developers come out with apps that use it. Since the iPhone 5s was just released it could be a few months before we start seeing really cool apps dealing with motion processing. 

SOFTWARE

Control Center

Control Center

This is the area in which I noticed the most improvement. iOS 7 really brings the iPhone up to speed with Android. It gives you Control Center, which is a toggle menu that swipes up from the bottom of the screen. This has toggles like: Airplane mode, wifi, bluetooth, do not disturb, and rotation lock. There is an area to control screen brightness and an area that displays your currently playing music. It also has quick links to things like a flashlight, timer, calculator, and the camera. Control Center really became quite useful to me. 

I always believed that iOS was due for an updated UI. I felt it was very dated. It really hadn't changed much since 2007. This was a problem when they were trying to compete with Android, which was moving forward in their UI design very rapidly since it's first version. iOS 7 brings these UI improvements.

I feel that the UI improvements are very well thought out. The opacity of menus really creates a sense of three dimensionality in the interface. You pull down the notifications pane and you still see the color of your homescreen bleed through. This gives the user more visual cues as to where they are in the interface. I found this type of design refreshing and very slick. Which was just what iOS needed.  The new flatter look, with no skeuomorphic designs is my favorite aspect. There are clean interfaces for all of the stock apps. They are simple, white, and just look clean. 

Multitasking

Some other nice improvements are automatic updating of apps, which took long enough to get here. Notification center also has been improved with an area for today, which shows your calendar, the weather, and other pertinent information. You can view your notifications or just swipe over to the things you missed, like calls.

Also we now have true multitasking. Where closing an app is just a swipe away. This really brings the iPhone into Android territory, which had true multitasking long ago.  

The Photos app is redesigned having a new way to view photos, by date and location. This allows you to quickly find the photos and it displays them in a nice mosaic. 

As you can guess, every single app has small improvements which just make the experience nicer. If you have an iPhone 4 or above, I suggest you install iOS 7 if you already haven't. It really refreshes your phone. 

Conclusion

It seems Apple has been able to lure me back to the iPhone with it's latest release. iOS 7 is full of promise. I just hope that Apple continues to innovate on the software side, as well as the hardware side. 

Speaking of hardware, it is everything you can want with a smartphone: fast, beautiful screen, great camera. Overall the whole package is tightly woven into a truly impressive experience. If you are still on the fence, go to an Apple store or any other store with display units and play with it for yourself. I am sure you will find it quite nice.