My Space Gray iPhone 5S arrived early this morning from Apple in China, and upon first opening the box, I was amazed to see how much longer, and lighter weight this 5S phone is compared to my 2.5 year old iPhone 4s.  Janna’s new iPhone will arrive tomorrow.  We’re both on the 4G Verizon network.

The first thing I noticed is that the Space Gray iPhone 5S would not turn on at all!  I was perplexed. Then I did the traditional “hard boot” by holding down the “on” button and the Home button at the same time until the phone turned on with the White Apple logo.  I picked Space Gray because it has a black face.  I prefer a neutral black on a smartphone.  A white face is just too aesthetically jarring.

The phone started and already had a 91% battery charge.  After setting up and restoring the phone, I was immediately prompted to download an 7.01 iOS 7 update.

As you can see in the screenshot below, I have a whole “extra row” for four more App icons in my Home screen!  That is a delightful and welcome change from the 4s.

The fingerprint scanner, Touch ID App — really, a thumb scanner — is just as easy and fun to use as advertised.

You repeatedly touch your thumb to the home button in all different angles and planes to register the print — the tip of the thumb is the most important — and you’re done and in without having to always input a passcode to use your phone.

Now that’s real, sustained and objectified progress!

Here are some other quick review thoughts I have on the iPhone 5S fresh out of the box.

4G network speed and connectivity is magnificent and amazing.  4G has served us well on our iPads, but we’ve been waiting a long time for that significant network performance enhancement to touch our iPhones.  Now we’re set, not in the future, but back in the now.

The 5S is definitely faster than the 4s — especially when processing and sending mail and attachments.

The colors are richer and deeper.

The new camera is excellent.  I will be taking some photos in the field to test the features and I’ll share the results with you.

I like the revamped “flat” look of iOS 7.  It’s clean and capable and stays out of your way — though Apple did ruin the clock.  The clock is now a thin and unreadable, ordinary, bleck of an experience.

I used to use the Google Chrome browser and Gmail and Google Voice Apps on my iPhone, but with the iOS 7 update, those Apps now feel slow and wonky and ugly.  The Apple Mail App is quick.  Messages look and work better than Google Voice SMS.  The Phone dialer is better looking and works more efficiently than the Google version.  Safari is just natively a better and more robust browser on iOS 7 — a win by closed design default.

I’m realizing that you pick your basic smartphone Apps based on your phone.  Android users will love the mobile Google Apps.  Apple users will likely prefer the speed and design enhancements in the new iOS bundled Apps.

It makes sad sense that, to get the best user experience, you need to still be bound by native OS Apps — but I now accept that’s the way of the online world, and I’m fine with “going Apple” as much as natively possible.


    1. I can’t install the 7.01 update — seems to be only for the 5S, none of our other iOS 7 devices need it — because the phone tells me I’m still “restoring” from my initial iCloud backup… which means downloading over 3,000 songs I put on the phone! Gah! Can’t stop it without starting the whole restore all over again.

      Yes, it was great UPS came so early today. We’ll hope for a repeat for you tomorrow.

  1. Great review! One eagle-eye observer noted that the Apple Maps icon shows the location of their new headquarters, which apparently has moved. It also apparently makes you crash a lot less often if you follow their directions literally. Enjoy your new phone! 🙂

    1. iOS 7 is really well done. I like the flat look. It’s funny going between the 4s and the 5S — I keep waiting for the 4s to recognize my thumbprint to unlock the phone! Yes, the assimilation happens just that fast…

  2. Great review!

    Can’t wait to get mine in the mail!

    Also, I love the small touches in the design! For example, the clock app moving in real time!

    1. Thanks for the comment, and I look forward to you getting your iPhone! You will definitely be happy with it.

      Be sure to pop back in when yours arrives to give us a review. When do you expect to receive the phone?

      Yes, the “moving clock” is terrific fun. I noticed that the other day. Even the second hand moves on the App icon! SMILE!

    1. When do you expect yours to arrive? How many did you order and in what colors and size?

      I couldn’t believe Apple would only let me order one phone at a time. That was aggravating!

  3. Neat, stuff, Drew. I had a white iPhone 4s for 2.5 years. I’m over the white. I’m delighted to be back to basic grey and black. I love the look and feel of the new phone. The 5S feels about 20% lighter than the 4s in my hand.

    I was on at&t for a long time, but reception was horrible in Jersey City. Verizon is slightly better, but not much. It will be interesting to see how 4G works inside the house on the 5S.

    1. Ah, yes it must have been a welcome upgrade from the 4s!

      This will actually be my first smartphone! I have been severely limited in my choice of phones as a result of me being a poor college student haha!

      1. Oh, you’re in for a big bite of a surprise. The 5S is the first phone I’ve had that actually feels like a real computer. I will take it with me everywhere now, I’m sure. The phone is finally right. The speed is right. The screen is right. New horizons everywhere.

        I’m with you on the limited funds as a student! So glad you were able to afford the new iPhone. I will enhance your studying.

  4. UPDATE:

    Because I spend so much time underground in train and subway tunnels, I have to load my music on my iPhone because streaming just doesn’t work.

    I have all my new Apps and iTunes purchases set to auto-download to all my connected iCloud devices.

    That means, I have discovered today, that when I restore or upgrade a phone or other iOS device, ASLL! — ALL! — ALL ! of my multimedia files must be downloaded as part of the “restore” as well. Ugh!

    So, I had over 3,000 songs on my iPhone that are now, ever-so-slowly — re-downloading from my iCloud iTunes account. I wish I had wiped all my music first. I’d be at least 7 hours ahead of testing. Even on a strong, 50 MB download WiFi signal… I’m just sitting here and waiting for the restore to finish.

  5. We so need to have one phone to connect to the web with , I am seriously thinking apple , but I am not so sure I am going to be able to cope with the technology ! Serves me right for not getting “into” apple earlier.

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