iPhone 5s: First Impressions

I’ve had the iPhone 5s for four days now and it’s by far the most seamless mobile experience I’ve ever enjoyed. From the high-powered processor to the beautifully optimised iOS7, I find it hard to fault Apple’s latest handset. So this is a little run-down on how I’ve found the latest iteration of Cupertino construction.

The fingerprint scanner has probably been the most contentious aspect of the new phone and why wouldn’t it be? It’s pretty much the only mobile device that is offering biometric access in such a high-quality way. There have been a few ill-conceived articles attempting to show the scanner in a bad light, but it’s pretty much an all-round winner in terms of tech advancement. I’ve fallen in love with it, as it reduces my phone access time dramatically. I don’t even have to be careful how I place my thumb. Apple took care of the precision side for me. All I need to do is whack my thumb down at any old angle and the fun begins.

No longer is having security on my phone a chore that makes every unlock cumbersome. It’s quick, reliable, and most of all, it’s easy. The fact that it works for app-purchasing is even better, and I finally feel like my phone is truly secure. The great thing about it, like most good tech, is that you forget it’s there until you need it. It doesn’t get in your way, you don’t even have to use it, but if and when you do, it just makes everything flow. Something Apple is undeniably very good at.

Moving on to processing power, I can’t say I’ve had even the slightest lag. On the first day of playing with the phone, I was astounded as to how much better the 5S handled iOS7 compared to the 4S. It was perfectly seamless and thoroughly enjoyable. I then decided to give it a real test and downloaded Chair-and-Epic’s latest action RPG, Infinity Blade 3. If ever there is a great test of graphical prowess in handset game, it’s this series. And of course it ran beautifully. There was a noticeable difference between the previous iterations, especially in terms of particle effects and textures. The draw distances were pretty tasty too. What’s most enjoyable though is that the frame-rate stayed high, like I was watching some HD concept footage instead of actually playing the game. In fact, I’ve yet to find a single thing that will make the phone lag in the slightest. Obviously this will change over time, but it’s certainly nice for now.

The camera is once again fantastic, and can take some seriously beautiful shots. The new duo-flash that’s been added is noticeable in photos, and I definitely value the advantage of having adaptive flash; too long has weird colouring barred me from dusky photography. The image filters you can add are pretty cool too, and have the advantage over Instagram of being real-time applicable, meaning you can test the filters while taking the shot, rather than adding them in post.

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The coolest thing about the camera by far however, is the new slow-mo feature. Every time I use it, I feel giddy, like I’m somehow creating a cinematic masterpiece. It works really well, the quality is high, and the shots come across great. This is also, however, where the phone starts to fall down a bit. I encountered what is apparently the common issue of not being able to send the slow-mo videos via iMessage. It sends the normal video at 120fps, not the finalised slow-mo footage. This is unfortunate, although very easily fixable, and no doubt will be patched in a later update. Instagram also does not enable direct porting of slow-mo footage, although it can be e-mailed currently, which is a workaround, however cumbersome.

Battery life is also very important, and I’ve had no issue with it so far. Obviously it’s new so I’ve been spending a lot of time on it, and it’s coped fantastically – much better than the 4S. I’ve gamed, watched video, and browsed the web for hours and only made a small dent in the battery percentage. I have zero complaints in this department.

Apart from these main things, not much has changed. I picked up the Space Grey model, which is beautiful, although my girlfriend was disappointed that she couldn’t get the champagne one as it had sold out, a problem encountered by many. I wouldn’t recommend upgrading from the 5 necessarily, unless you’re a die-hard Apple fan or a phone fashionista. Anything from the 4S and below though, and this is ripe territory for serious handset happiness.

Read: Why iPhone 5 could’ve been a better choice than iPhone 5c?

Overall I’d say this is a great phone. Apple have a habit of producing phones that just work, and this is no exception. It’s fun, feels familiar, but different enough to still feel like something new and exciting. I can’t recommend it enough.

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