Tag Archives: iphone

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.


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.


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.”

The Most Underrated Innovation Buried Within The iPhone 5S

“The new M7 coprocessor is like a sidekick to the A7 chip. It’s designed specifically to measure motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass — a task that would normally fall to the A7 chip. But M7 is much more efficient at it. Now fitness apps that track physical activity can access that data from the M7 coprocessor without constantly engaging the A7 chip. So they require less battery power. M7 knows when you’re walking, running, or even driving. For example, Maps switches from driving to walking turn-by-turn navigation if, say, you park and continue on foot. Since M7 can tell when you’re in a moving vehicle, iPhone 5s won’t ask you to join Wi-Fi networks you pass by. And if your phone hasn’t moved for a while, like when you’re asleep, M7 reduces network pinging to spare your battery.”

The iPhone 5S announcement had but one surprise: The M7 chip. Every other feature we knew about in advance, but the M7 managed to sneak past every leak.

The M7 chip is nothing to necessarily advertise, and the chip’s sex appeal in the 5S is nothing compared to the phone’s fingerprint sensor and slow-motion video camera shooting at 120 fps. But the M7 chip is arguably the most important innovation inside the iPhone 5S, and here’s why:

As Apple explains, M7 helps to offload some of the various duties of the phone’s main processor, the A7 chip, specifically in relation to motion and orientation. Certainly Apple doesn’t need the M7 chip — prior iPhone models have performed perfectly fine without it — but Apple is likely giving the M7 a test run within an iOS device that doesn’t necessarily need it to function before releasing it in a device that truly does need it.

Another example of Apple giving new features a test-run: Apple customers craved — nay, demanded — LTE in their iPhones, but first, Apple gave LTE a test run on a different iOS device — the third-generation iPad, released six months before the first iPhone with LTE, the iPhone 5. By the time the iPhone 5 was ready, Apple had worked out the kinks to ensure its LTE technology was stable enough for a mass production of iPhones.

Applying this strategy to the M7 chip, Apple must have big plans for a motion-sensing chip if it was introduced in the iPhone (as opposed to the iPad). Apple sells more iPhone units than iPad, which means Apple must plan on using the M7 on an even grander scale. Of the many conclusions, the wide implementation of the M7 via the rumored iWatch seems the most reasonable.

Apple has been working on its smartwatch for several years now, but the appearance of the M7 chip means the iWatch is inevitable. 

Apple designed the A7 and M7 chips for interplay between each other. Many believe the iWatch will communicate with one’s iDevice, so embedding a single M7 chip and letting an iPhone or iPad do most of the heavy lifting — err, processing — when it comes to loading personal or location data makes the most sense. If Apple wants to conserve battery on the iWatch — the company is reportedly aiming for a solid 7 days of life — the M7 chip should certainly help limit the amount of information processed directly on the wristwatch.

What’s more impressive is how sensitive the M7 chip is. The sensor can reportedly tell if you’ve changed modes of transportation or if you’ve stopped moving, which will be important for certain applications based on health, fitness and lifestyle. Sure, the inclusion of the M7 chip is nice on the iPhone 5S, but once it makes its way to the iWatch, context-sensitive applications will never be the same. And that’s a good thing.

The iPhone 5C Is A Luxury Phone After All

Many of those listening to rumors leading up to Tuesday’s media event in Cupertino believed “low-cost” iPhone meant “low price” iPhone, which just simply isn’t true with the iPhone 5C.

Yes, the rumors about the 5C were right in every single regard, including those rumors most people didn’t want to believe — namely, that the budget iPhone would not be so “budget-friendly” after all. In July, a Korean website first reported Apple’s intentions to remove the iPhone 5 from its iPhone lineup entirely, which meant the iPhone 4S (the last remaining iPhone in the classic 3.5-inch screen design) would likely remain at its $0 on-contract price, while the iPhone 5C filled the $99 void between the 4S and the newest high-end phone, the $199 iPhone 5S.

Sure, $99 on-contract for a new iPhone isn’t a bad deal in the U.S., but as my colleague Sophie Song points out, the same iPhone sells for the equivalent of $735 in China, which is pretty nutrageous considering how so many analysts believed the purpose of this budget iPhone was to bridge the gap between luxury consumers and the mainstream, especially in countries where iPhones aren’t so easily subsidized by carriers.

This would initially make the 5C seem like a great-plan-turned-PR-disaster for Apple, especially in the relatively fragile Tim Cook era, but the iPhone 5C strategy is actually quite brilliant. Here’s why:

1. If the iPhone 5 still existed, it would cost the same as the current iPhone 5C; if anything, the 5C performs either equally well or better than its predecessor. The FaceTime camera has been beefed up a bit, its surface has become more scratch-proof and more comfortable to hold (so I’m told), and owning an iPhone 5C in one of five bright colors definitely makes it feel more fun and personal. The color strategy has worked for Apple in the past (see: iMac, iPod), and the iPhone is Apple’s most popular product. You do the math.

2. The  5C is more forward-thinking than the 5S. Apple knows — probably better than anyone — how quickly technology can become old. Even with the iPhone 5C and 5S officially out the door, the clock is ticking on the next iPhone. And if there’s a new iPhone, you can always count on last year’s iPhone getting a price drop. If we’re lucky, we could see this year’s 5C model — a perfectly good phone in its own right, considering its many similarities and improvements to the bestselling iPhone 5 — sell for $0 on-contract by this time next year. And in the technology world, “next year” isn’t very far away. In a year, the five colors of the iPhone 5C could still be the best smartphone deal on the market (looking at you, Moto X).

3. The iPhone 5C stays close to Apple tradition. If you were expecting a truly cheap iPhone this year, well then you don’t know Apple, jack. Apple will continually take pride in itself as a luxury brand, and nothing less. There is nothing “cheap” about this iPhone — the plastic has an extremely high-quality feel and finish, and there’s no point in calling its starting price a bargain. Therefore, owning this particular phone will still be considered relatively exclusive and special in many countries. And if the iPhone wasn’t distinctive before, its five new colors certainly ensure that from now on.

So, as it turns out, the rumored “budget iPhone” turns out to be a luxury item after all. I like the green one.