Initial Thoughts on iPhone 5s

I’ve been using my new gold iPhone 5s for a few days. Here are my initial impressions:

Size: I like the 5s, not sure I would enjoy a bigger phone. Upgrading from the 4S, it took a little bit of time to get use to the slightly farther thumb reaches required to touch the upper left corner of the 5s.  Even though the extra screen real estate is a positive, I have doubts that I would want a bigger screen than the 5s. I often find myself in one-handed use situations and I simply would not be able to use a bigger screen. If Apple is to go bigger with iPhone 6 (seems like its more than a 50/50 probability at this point), I suspect Apple will also maintain the current iPhone size, which would be noteworthy in that Apple would be maintaining and updating two different iPhone sizes. It may just finally be that time though as the smartphone market continues to mature. 

Slo-Mo: This year’s Siri.  The new slow motion camera mode will be the feature everyone is demoing at the Thanksgiving table or holiday party, just like how Siri was so much fun to show friends and family. I have taken at least 15-20 slo-mo videos so far and still can’t get enough. Of course, this fascination may very well die off in a few weeks, but by then it wouldn’t matter much since everyone I know would have seen the feature. 

Color: White is the new Black.  Up to now, it felt that the black iPhone was the unofficial default iPhone, the color you get to be like everyone else, while the white iPhone was the designated color to stand out from the crowd. I think the 5s changes that dynamic and white (sliver and gold) will become the default color, while the space grey is the color to stand out from the crowd (even though it doesn’t stand out as much as white did in previous years).  Of course, I am not taking into account case usage, which may make this a moot point, but nevertheless I think there will be quite a few gold and silver iPhones in the wild in coming months and momentum will only build. 

Touch ID: Awkward at first, but still cool.  It took me two days to get use to Touch ID, or should I say, break my habit of simply pressing the home button and then typing my passcode.  My issue dealt with pressing the home button and not leaving my finger on the button long enough for the fingerprint scanner to do its job. I also tried to show the feature to another 4S user and they had to be walked through the installation steps and even then they had trouble, so clearly Touch ID is not the easiest feature to demo to normal non-tech users, but nevertheless it’s pretty cool.  

Weight: Wow.  After a few days of using iPhone 5s, my iPhone 4S feels like a brick. It’s remarkable and incredible. Not sure much more has to be said. 

Battery: An improvement.  I’m able to get through a day of pretty constant 5s use (a few tasks per hour, all day) without a trip to find the power cord.  I wouldn’t be able to say the same with my iPhone 4S. 

Speed: Hard to see a difference with LTE; iOS 7 feels faster with 5s. LTE was one of those features Android fans mocked the 4S for not supporting. I don’t see the big deal. I often find myself on Wi-Fi with fast enough speeds to make any differences with LTE negligible. I do see a difference in terms of iOS 7, especially animations. Even though my 4S was feeling a tad sluggish with iOS 7, I don’t find myself complaining with 5s.

Free iPhoto & iMovie: Useful and fun. A few seconds after launch I was asked if I wanted to download a slew of free Apple apps, including iWork, iPhoto, and iMovie.  While many users may just play around with these apps here and there, I think they are plenty capable and will put a dent in third-party paid photo and video editing apps.  

Big Picture: Refinement is king with 5s.  When I upgraded to 4S from 3GS, the speed blew me away. Not only was the phone’s improved performance noticeable, but Siri was a pretty darn cool feature.  The 5s doesn’t have that same wow factor surrounding speed improvement, but instead the subtle refinements in terms of battery, camera, apps, and color, add up. I would have a difficult time moving back to the 4S, which is the easiest way to know that the 5s is a winner and another step forward in Apple’s iPhone refinement journey.