iPhone 5s Initial Impressions

At this point my entire family of four has iPhones. The downside is I’ve got a monthly bill that reflects four iPhones. (The family share plan actually make sense for me.) The upside is there is always an upgrade available and dad always get the upgrade. So yesterday I received a nice package from China and last night the entire family and I went to the AT&T store for the annual Sparks iPhone shuffle. Having used the new iPhone 5S for less than a day, here are my initial impressions.

The Model

I went with the white 64 GB model. My iPhone 5 was black and it shows a lot of wear and tear around the edges. With white and silver I was hoping to avoid that (although it sounds like they’ve made alterations to the black model to solve this problem). Nevertheless, it’s fun having a phone with a different color for a change. One downside about the white iPhone is that when the phone is off, you see the screen whereas on the black phone it melts into the front black panel. There’s also a bit of a black line around the edges when you have it on with a light colored screen. None of these are deal breakers for me and I’ve got no regrets with the white phone.

Touch ID

Just like all of the big reviews say, this works as advertised. I very quickly adapted to unlocking by pressing my finger on the home button and holding it there just a moment longer. It reliably unlocks and takes me to the home screen with no troubles. I’ve trained three fingers on it and it’s working great on all of them. We’ve been passing the phone around the house and no one else can unlock it.

An added benefit of this extremely easy security is that you can bump up your passcode to something better than just a four digit unlock code. Since I’ll be using it so infrequently, I turned off Simple Passcode and instead am using an eight digit number. In case you didn’t know, if you create a complex passcode with just digits, the iPhone will still give you the number screen to type in your passcode.I understand this is not as complex of a passcode as one with letters and numbers but with eight digits I think I’ll be okay.

Another unexpected benefit of the touch ID system is that I don’t need to swipe the phone to unlock. If I do swipe out of habit, the phone will still take my thumb to unlock at the passcode screen.

Touch ID also works great with purchases in iTunes. I can’t wait for Apple to expand this a little bit further. For instance I’d love it if 1Password could send a call to the system to verify my identification through my thumb to unlock its database. This wouldn’t require them to have access to my thumbprint or any of the underlying security but instead just be a simple question, “Is that David or not?”. The system could prompt me to press my thumb and report back to 1Password, “Yep. That’s him.” This could make banking and other applications with secure data much more convenient on the iPhone. In short, I’m already spoiled by touch ID.

The New Camera

The camera does take better lowlight pictures. For me this is the ultimate test of these pocket cameras. Can I go to a family event and take a picture indoors and not have it look like trash? Granted it’s nowhere near the indoor pictures I could take with a big boy camera with a fast lens, it is a noticeable improvement over the iPhone 5, which I already thought took pretty good pictures indoors. I played with the flash and adjusting the color of the flash does help pictures. However, the picture still look like they were taken with a flash and have the same creepy shadows.

Burst mode is awesome. I’m going to be using it all the time. It looks like it’s only keeping the best picture in my photostream. I want to go deeper to find out where the other pictures go. Hopefully, they just go to the trash unless I actively seek them out. I haven’t done anything exciting enough to test the slow motion camera.

64 Bits

Everything on this phone is noticeably faster. Even the time it takes to optimize my OmniFocus database is faster.

Overall I’m really digging the new iPhone. I’m looking forward to using it for the next year, at which point Apple will release something new and shiny again and our family will go back to the AT&T store for the annual iPhone shuffle.