My iPhone 5S and 5C First Impressions

I had a chance to check out the iPhone 5C and 5S at the Apple Store today. Gold supply apparently was absolutely pathetic, a common refrain from anecdotes I’ve read.  Raffi would not be amused (Conan O’Brien reference).

Since I’m not a buyer – just yet anyway – I was more interested in the demo models then supply levels (there’s far better sources on that than li’l ol’ me anyway). Random thoughts (not really in terms of market/Apple implications):

iPhone 5S

Touch ID is blow-away amazing (yes, I just borrowed a Forstall-ism).  Just as long as the assembly is reasonably good at keeping out dust, oils and moisture – time will tell about the quality of the design. For fun I tried to see how quickly Touch ID could register my fingerprint – even with some “retrograde” reading mistakes, you can quite easily get your print locked in in less than 20 seconds (on the second or third registration try). The 5S uses the vibration motor as a tactile aid to get you to re-tap the home button as the sensor works on recognition (kind of a “OK, I got a good mini-read here, keep going”).  And if you’re doing it wrong, you get zero tactile feedback and those red/watermelon-colored fingerprint “progress” lines “recede” (you do get some helpful tips).

5S speed and responsiveness – somewhat faster, but not the 4S >> 5 delta I was expecting. On the other hand I won’t be able to “put the 5S through its paces” with my apps and usage patterns just yet. My wild guess is that iOS 7 could benefit quite a bit from some optimization, but who knows if that’s a priority – the 5S is more than fast enough, and the 5C runs fine enough.  Startup time was around 25 seconds.

The best way to see the power of the A7/ISP in the demo context at least is the 720p/120FPS mode. Refresh rate on the screen and smoothness of the instaneous vid capture is STUNNING.  Actual video is “mundane” (read: the usual) at 30fps by comparison.

The home button is sleek and discreet on the 5S Space Gray – perfect for me.  The steel ring is “concave” and helps semi-imitate the old Home button feel.

iPhone 5C

Pure eye candy.  I was surprised by how much I liked the watermelon color – and it really is a watermelon color, it just doesn’t “market” as well to call it as such I guess.

There’s a slight “imperfection” around the camera/flash assembly.  By that I mean there’s the tiniest bit of circular “gap” between the camera lens and flash assembly and the back case, probably to provide a tiny bit of tolerance in the fitting process.  That’s the only real sign of “cheapness”. The only way to tell the plastic casing is plastic, other than by look, is by tapping it with a fingernail – build quality is otherwise very good, with a bit of give but interestingly not in an unwelcome, fragile-feeling way.  It’s actually a bit like how the iPhone 5 feels the tiniest bit less “solid” than the iPhone 4.

Anyway, the quality of the plastic casing is “what iPhone 3G/S always wanted to be”, in my opinion.

The iPhone 5C feels like it could be a bit “slick” in the “wrong” conditions, but it’s a great balance between shine and secure feel at least in “ideal”, Apple Store-like low humidity (and this is an iPhone that’d seen lots of interested customers throughout the day).  It doesn’t feel too heavy OR overly dense.  It’s like a shell with surprising substance behind it, and you would never know the metal reinforcements were there.

It’s an awesome form factor overall.  I suspect it’ll be a bit more popular in China than many people think.

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