The iPhone 5s Review

“The iPhone 5s is a victory for taste, practicality and production, and while it’s not perfect, it’s easily the best phone out there.”

Read my full review here.


Gold Digger

Call it strategic. Call it obnoxious. Whatever you want to call it, Samsung announced a gold version of its Galaxy S4 this week, probably because Apple’s new gold-tinted iPhone 5s is the hottest new phone on the market and yet it’s nowhere to be found.

Whether or not you believe Samsung “steals” ideas from Apple, and/or always has, Samsung has not handled this announcement well. Samsung could have said it planned to release a gold Galaxy S4 months before the first leaked photos of the gold iPhone 5s. But instead, Samsung reacted to its own news with an awkward and defensive blog post that, once again, alienates consumers by disrespecting their collective intelligence.

The PR team starts off with a groaner: “By now you probably know that aliens work with Samsung, well so do some gods – Midas, to name one.” Not only is this sentence a strange way to start any conversation whatsoever, I’m pretty sure Midas was a king.

But wait, there’s more:

“About a month ago on August 27th, Samsung launched the GALAXY S4 Gold edition in the United Arab Emirates (These were available in stores starting September 8th). It’s since also been released in Kuwait and Qatar.”

The blog post concludes with eight examples of previously released gold Samsung phones, which the company says is “not a complete list” and again feels like another distortion, especially since seven out of the eight examples are feature phones, not smartphones, and at least three of those models are bronze or copper, not gold.

But now I’m getting into the semantics of what qualifies as “gold,” which isn’t the point here. Here’s the point: The move itself may have seemed opportunistic and pathetic, but this blog post is much worse. It shows a true lack of respect for its readers by completely neglecting the reality of the situation: People know the gold iPhone exists, and people know Samsung has been accused of copying in the past.

Samsung claims it spends a great deal of time listening to fans, which means it clearly scans the news every single day. News of an Apple smartwatch surfaces earlier this year, and two months later, Samsung announces it’s working on its own smartwatch (which turns out to be a smart “companion” — not a smartwatch, and definitely not the iWatch killer many were hoping for). And now, as Apple is again in the news for its unattainable but highly desirable gold iPhone 5s, Samsung goes ahead and does this.

Samsung is a massively powerful company with a rare opportunity to shape and lead today’s malleable tech scene, but its marketing and PR is nothing short of tasteless and cringeworthy. If you don’t believe me, check out this semi-racist ad, or this thoroughly unwatchable Galaxy S4 unveiling:

Fool’s Gold

Photos of an alleged “gold” iPad mini with Touch ID have surfaced online. But considering they’re sourced from a random Chinese website, and the iPad looks fully assembled (highly unusual for a product leak), I severely doubt the legitimacy of this photo. It’s also highly unlikely Touch ID will be on any iPad, mini or otherwise, so soon after the first major implementation of the new hardware on the iPhone 5s.

I also refuse to believe any iPhone or iPad news until Sonny Dickson posts some corroborating photos. But while we’re on the subject, Dickson does have some photos of the second-generation iPad mini in silver and space grey.


The Biggest And Most Ridiculous Complaint About iOS 7

From MacRumors:

The specific thread, which spans over eight pages, has users discussing symptoms that correlate to vertigo, intense nausea, and dizziness and which are occurring with prolonged use of iOS 7 involving actions such as returning to the home screen from an app and using the multitasking menu.

Besides these complaints being utterly inane, this so-called “problem” is totally fixable. Here’s Business Insider with how to remove the parallax effect from iOS 7.

5s and 5c: Off To A Hot Start

“This is our best iPhone launch yet―more than nine million new iPhones sold―a new record for first weekend sales,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and while we’ve sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5s, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone.”

Big congrats to Apple, but I wish they’d give us a breakdown of how the 5c sold compared to the 5s. I’m guessing the 5s did most of the heavy lifting.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

The morning of Friday, Sept. 20

5:32 a.m.: I wake up and check my computer. The gold iPhone 5s is the only model sold out on Apple’s website and listed to ship in October. Standing in line today may be the only chance I have if I want that color… and I do, I think.

6:02 a.m.: I kiss my sleeping girlfriend and leave my apartment just as the sun is beginning to come up on the horizon. I immediately start to wonder what I’d do if I need to pee in line.

Damn lens flare. This better be solved in the 5s.
Damn lens flare. This better be solved in the 5s.

6:13 a.m.: The subway seems unusually packed this morning. Is everyone here planning to buy an iPhone? What if they all get in line before me… OH GOD I GOTTA HURRY

6:17 a.m.: One young woman bursts out of the subway doors like it was a starting gate. She’s definitely getting in line.

Obligatory texture photo to remind you it's early in the morning
Obligatory texture photo to remind you it’s early in the morning

6:28 a.m.: I’ve arrived at the Verizon Store. There are seven people ahead of me. At the AT&T store across the street I see about five people. I remember sitting in front of that store two years ago waiting for the 4S to come out. The excitement was palpable at the time compared to today; it makes sense, since a personal assistant is sexier to more people than a security feature, even if it’s a high-tech fingerprint reader.

A beautiful, flawless panorama of my spot in line. Thanks Apple
A beautiful, flawless panorama of my spot in line. Thanks Apple

6:31 a.m.: Just realized there’s a Sprint store directly across from where I’m standing. There’s nobody standing in line… yep, that’s definitely Sprint.

6:36 a.m.: Somebody just showed up at Sprint’s storefront. Aaaaaand he works there — he’s unlocking the door now. Did he just start crying?

Sprint is the loneliest number
Sprint is the loneliest number

6:45 a.m.: Two Verizon employees just walked out of the store with a series of barriers to basically create a wall between the line, protecting us from the non-iPhone-fanatic public.

7:34 a.m.: Finally looking up from my phone, the line has grown very long behind me. Meanwhile, there is still nobody standing in front of Sprint.

I have no idea when or how this line happened. They're all about to be disappointed in a few minutes.
I have no idea when or how this line happened. They’re all about to be disappointed in a few minutes.

7:35 a.m.: My IBTimes colleague Luke tells me the Apple Store near him in New Jersey sold out of gold within the first group. He says he’s in the second group, and he’s been standing there since 3:30 a.m. Yikes. He wishes me luck since I still plan on getting the gold 5s, though I’ve been constantly changing my mind about the color since its unveiling.

7:43 a.m.: The Verizon manager steps outside the store to announce there is NO gold — at all. As he walks down the line, I give him “the nod” to let him know I want to be talked to.

“So what’s going on? No gold at all, I hear?”

“Yeah, it’s true. Apple didn’t send us any gold — same with AT&T and Sprint. No carriers got any gold for today.”

I ask the manager for a pen and after several minutes of consulting my phone, surveying the Internet’s surprisingly limited images of the various iPhone 5s colors, I change my color preference on the Verizon order card from “gold” to “space grey.”

8:00 a.m.: Right on time, the Verizon manager opens the doors and quickly loses count of the people that file in. As part of the first group of 10 people, I walk into the store and see a big clump of red t-shirt-wearing Verizon employees greeting customers. Each customer pairs off with a Verizon employee like some high-tech mating ritual, and I’m the last person to find mine: Marquia.

8:09 a.m.: Of course there’s an issue. After walking back and forth several times to one of the store’s managers, Marquia says the price I’d pay is around $800, but I thought that was unusually high. But after some very complicated and long-winded math regarding the early termination fee, the final $300-400 range sounds about right. I swipe my credit card and Marquia takes my new space grey iPhone 5s out of its box and sets up the phone number. She says it’s the first iPhone 5s she’s held; I give her a moment.

8:17 a.m.: After many awkward attempts to transfer the contacts on my iPhone 5 to my 5s, Marquia gives up and I assure her it’s alright — I’m just happy to leave at this point. Then I see Marquia’s problem: The phone is most definitely frozen. Great start, 5s. I power it off and turn it back on — everything’s okay.

8:29 a.m.: Back at the office, I sit at my desk and remove my laptop to immediately start synching my phone to pull in my contacts, settings and apps. As I wait, I look online to see if anyone else had succeeded in getting a gold iPhone. I search everywhere and find nothing. NOTHING. Not even on Twitter, and Twitter always has a little bit of everything. Talk about elusive. I quickly push out a story about exactly how “grotesquely unavailable” the gold iPhone 5s was this morning.

In retrospect, I’m glad Verizon didn’t have the gold iPhone. Sure it’s beautiful, but I’ve really come to love the subtlety of the space grey model. The gold color is a superficial distraction from all the good stuff that lies underneath.

Space grey... it's outta this world
Space grey… it’s outta this world

The Best, Most Thorough iPhone 5s Review You’ll Ever Read

You may read many reviews of the iPhone 5s, but there’s none better than the one written by Anand Shimpi. Anand takes a scientific approach to review writing, only providing subjective opinions when he has plenty of data to back up his statements. He leaves no stone unturned. If there’s any reviewer you can trust, it’s him; he’s the Roger Ebert of technology reviews.

You should really take some time to read his 13-page review of the iPhone 5s, but here’s one paragraph taken from his “Final Words” section to get you started.

“The iPhone 5s is quite possibly the biggest S-update we’ve ever seen from Apple. I remember walking out of the venue during Apple’s iPhone 5 launch and being blown away by the level of innovation, at the platform/silicon level, that Apple crammed into the iPhone 5. What got me last time was that Apple built their own ARM based CPU architecture from the ground up, while I understand that doesn’t matter for the majority of consumers – it’s no less of an achievement in my eyes. At the same time I remember reading through a sea of disappointment on Twitter – users hoping for more from Apple with the iPhone 5. If you fell into that group last time, there’s no way you’re going to be impressed by the iPhone 5s. For me however, there’s quite a bit to be excited about.”