iPhone 5s

I picked up an iPhone 5s last Saturday to replace my previous 4s. There was nothing wrong with the old phone; I simply decided the time was right to pick up something newer.

I’d played with the 5s in the Apple store, and had been impressed with the speed. I was becoming more conscious of how slow the so-called “4G” cellular data speed on the 4s was. And finally, I’d looked into Apple’s recycling program for old iPhones; I could get a decent trade-in for my old 64 GB 4s now, but I figured the trade in would only go down.

Buying the phone

Once I’d decided to buy it, the problem then became buying it. They can’t keep up with demand. I wanted to buy it in person rather than online, since I could then apply the gift card you get for your old phone toward the new phone. I stopped into the Providence Apple store a couple of times, but they were sold out, and started checking Apple’s online store to see if any of the stores near me had the one I was looking for, the silver 64 GB model. Finally, last Saturday, I saw that Braintree had them in stock. I backed up the old phone and got there right before the store opened… only to find that there was already a line.

So I waited and waited, and finally I was beckoned to come inside. For a couple of moments I was worried that they were out of the model I wanted– I didn’t care too much about the color, but I really do like having a lot of memory available. But then the runner brought out my silver 64 GB iPhone 5s and we were ready to go.

The first step was getting the trade in on the old iPhone. The sales rep checked out the condition of the old phone, including checking the condition of the dock connector with a flashlight. They gave me a trade in value of $183 for my old 64GB 4s. Next, after asking if I wanted to make a backup, I was asked to turn off Find My iPhone on the old phone, and after signing off on the trade-in agreement electronically, we erased the old phone, and it was no longer mine.

Next, the sales rep had to transfer my AT&T account to the new phone. After a momentary misstep owing to a typo, I was all set. We then set up iCloud and Find my iPhone on the new phone. I also trained the Touch Id sensor on the phone to recognize my right thumb. She then offered to restore my phone from iCloud, but I keep my backups on my local machine, so I was all set.

Setting Up

Once I got home, it was time to get all my stuff onto the new phone. I’ve done restores from a backup before, and they really do allow you to you to replicate the state of an old phone on a new device. For a new phone though, I kind of like to make a clean break. So even though I had the iPhone 4s backup, I decided to set it up as a new phone. It’s kind of cool to set up a new device in an all new way, to arrange the apps in a new fashion, to be rid of all the collected pictures on the camera roll (I’d already transferred them all to Aperture), and to reset the high scores in my games. So I connected the phone to iTunes, picked the apps I wanted to bring over, indicated which videos and photos I wanted, and told it to bring over all my music, and then went outside and got some raking done while it synced.

Later that night, I finished setting it up. I got email and Twitter up and running, and fussed with the placement of apps a bit. I like this kind of monkeying around with settings.

First Impressions

My first impression of this phone is that it’s freaking fast. The first site I visited with the phone was bostonglobe.com; on WiFi, the page loaded practically instantly. It used to take several seconds on the 4s. Browsing the web on the 5s is much more pleasant, both because it’s faster, and because of its larger screen.

Second, compared to the 4s, it’s very noticeably lighter.  At first, it almost felt insubstantial, but I’ve gotten used to it.

I like the taller screen, but I’m glad that it’s still handleable with one hand.The screen itself is sharp and clear, but the color balance feels cooler than the 4s. Colors feel more saturated.

Touch Id — the fingerprint sensor on the Home button —works pretty well. It always recognizes my right thumb; I ended up adding a couple of other fingers too. It sometimes doesn’t recognize my left thumb; I think it’s because I have a tendency to use that one at an angle. Training it is simple —you go to the Settings app, there’s an option there for Touch Id, and you repeatedly touch and hold the finger you’re teaching it about on the sensor from different angles. The screen displays a grayed out fingerprint, as it registers data, parts of the fingerprint turn red.

I’m still getting used to Touch Id though. I keep either double pressing the Home button, or press and hold down the button, which brings up Siri. The trick is to press once, then just touch the sensor; the fingerprint is then recognized and you bypass both the slide to unlock and the password entry screens.

Apple talks a lot about improvements made to the camera in this model, but I’ve only just begun to play with it—it’s now November, not the most photogenic month in the year. Below is a panoramic shot taken yesterday from a kayak in the Charles River. I was wearing both a wet suit and a life preserver, so it was hard to keep the guide aligned properly— I was more concerned with not dropping it into the water than I was with keeping it completely straight, but aside from the black spots at the top, it did a decent job of lining up the sections. I’m looking forward to playing with more of its capabilities.


I’m still not a fan of typing on the phone (or iPad for that matter). There’s a little more room on the keyboard, but not much. I started this post on the iPhone itself last night, while sitting next to a fire in the back yard. I got as far as the fourth paragraph, and decided I needed to finish it on a real keyboard.

This is my first device with a Lightning connector instead of the old 30 pin connector. I’m generally not a fan of changing connectors, but I like it much better, despite the fact that I had to buy two $29 adaptors (and could use a third). No more fumbling around trying to insert it the right way.

I still feel a little…guilty? silly? I guess,  about spending this much money on a new device that’s so similar to my old device, which was still working perfectly fine. The speed increase is very noticeable though, the larger screen is nice, and I like the Touch Id sensor. I’m looking forward to doing more with the camera. I’m very happy with this phone.