iPhone 5S vs. 5C (5S Edition)

iPhone 5S Review

iPhone 5S (CC by Ashok Govind)

I’ve been using my iPhone 5s since the week after launch, so about 5 weeks now, and it truly is the best, fastest iPhone to date. The casing and screen are virtually identical to the iPhone 5, except for the dual flashes and touch ID. It ships with iOS 7, and is remarkably light and thin for a device that packs such substantial improvement in power. An article I read on imore.com points out that the power under the hood from the A7 chip in the 5s is equivalent to that of a 2010 MacBook Air.


Maker: Apple
Price: $199 with a 2 year contract from AT&T
Ownership Length: 5 Weeks


Pros:

1) The iOS 7 user interface is silky smooth and quick, but probably not appreciably better than the iPhone 5.

2) The camera quality is improved. The slow motion and burst mode options both work really well and are useful for action video and photos.

3) The battery life is good. I know there are phones with better battery life, but I can quite easily go the entire day (from 8 AM until midnight or later) and still be at 10-15% battery or higher, depending on use.

4) Touch ID is awesome; it’s the best, easiest to use feature security feature I’ve witnessed. You set it up with up to 5 fingers and it allows you to unlock the phone or pay for apps in the app store without having to input an alphanumeric password. Putting your thumb—or whichever finger you choose—on the home button unlocks the phone. The only time I’ve had a problem is if my finger is damp. It is so much easier than inputting a 4-digit code every time you unlock your phone. Also, if the “nuisance” of having to input a password has kept you from putting a pass lock on your phone, this is such an easy way to secure your phone and your personal information (I don’t think it blocks the NSA though).

5) In addition to the A7 processor, there is a M7 coprocessor that registers motion, so exercise, GPS, pedometer apps or whatnot can track that data without taking away memory and battery/efficiency from the main processor.

Cons:
1) Size. I personally love the size—it’s the same 4-inch screen as the iPhone 5. I find most large Android phones, like the Samsung Galaxy, too huge to slip in and out of my pocket easily. But if you want a larger screen, get an Android or Windows phone.

2) No external card slots. There isn’t and never will be a card slot on an iPhone. If you need one, the iPhone 5s is probably not for you.

3) Slick surfaces. The iPhone 5s is is very shiny and possibly a little slick. If you are like me and want to keep it pristine, get a case for when you are out and about. I like to uncase it when I’m at home.

Summary

iPhone 5S BackMy overall final thoughts: it’s a great phone and if you like Apple products, you’ll really enjoy using the iPhone 5s. That being said, I was eligible for an upgrade on contract, and with selling back my previous iPhone, I basically got it for the activation cost. While the iPhone 5s is certainly an upgrade from the iPhone 5, it’s not necessarily worth paying full price if you aren’t eligible for an upgrade on your contract. But if you have the iPhone 4s or earlier, upgrade to the iPhone 5s if you can. It is the creme de la creme of iPhones.

iPhone 5S vs 5C (5C Edition)

iPhone 5C Review

iPhone 5CLast February, when I was still working at the American Cancer Society, I was doing some canvassing one day and happened to pass by a Verizon store. My Droid Incredible had been giving me some trouble, so I went in to ask them if anything could be done. I ended up trading it in for an iPhone 4 for only $100–the 4s had just come out, so the 4 was cheap.

As a Mac person, it was about time I got an iPhone. When I had originally bought the Droid, I found I couldn’t sync any of my calendars in the correct direction (my Google calendar would sync to iCal, but I couldn’t get iCal to sync to Google). So I was just biding my time until I could get a phone that would sync seamlessly to my calendars, iTunes, etc. Getting the iPhone 4 completed the circle.

Fast-forward a year and 9 months or so. My trusty iPhone 4 was still working more or less perfectly, but its capacity was shot–having bought only the 8GB, I had barely 30 songs, less than 1,000 pictures, and only a few extraneous apps installed on the phone, but there still wasn’t enough space available to install iOS7. The large majority of these apps were daily essentials (banking, Facebook, Sparkpeople, Pandora), and my phone was running painfully slowly. So when the iPhone 5s and 5c came out, I got it into my head that I should upgrade. (Thankfully, there was an upgrade available on my family plan!)

Amazon – Apple iPhone 5c, White 16GB (Unlocked)

The first thing I did was check out the differences in specs between the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c. I ruled out the iPhone 5 almost immediately because only the 64GB model was available through Verizon, and I wasn’t about to pay $300 for a phone that wasn’t even the most recent version. In comparing the iPhone 5s and 5c, I noticed only a few things the 5s had that the 5c didn’t, namely a few camera features (burst mode, slow-motion video, “True Tone” flash instead of an LED flash) and, of course, the fingerprint identity scanner. Deciding that I really didn’t want a fingerprint scanner anyway, and realizing that, if I wanted fancy camera features, I could just buy a camera (which I plan to do before I get married in April), I decided to go for the iPhone 5c. Plus, for $199, I could get a 32GB iPhone 5c, while that much would only get me a 16GB iPhone 5s.

So about a month ago, after watching BC get dealt a crushing defeat at the hands of FSU, I decided to cheer myself up by heading to the Verizon store a few miles away. After signing in and waiting a while for service, another rep finally called my name and I explained what I wanted. I also mentioned that I had an iPhone 4 that I would be willing to trade in if it would get me anything. Incredibly, my iPhone 4 had a $100 trade-in value! I got my new, blue iPhone 5c, a case, screen protectors, and an additional charger for less than $200. I went home a VERY happy camper.

I love this phone. Everything is fast. The capacity is great and (hopefully) more than I’ll ever need. The display is beautiful. The sound quality, both from the earpiece and the speaker at the bottom, is great. I haven’t had any antenna issues when making or receiving calls. The battery life, while never great on smartphones, is definitely an improvement over my drained-in-4-hours iPhone 4 battery, so I’m definitely not complaining. With moderate use throughout the day (some music playing, lots of Facebook, texting, and Words With Friends) I still usually go home at the end of the day with at least 50% charge. I worked from 8:30am until midnight a few days ago, and my phone only gave me a “20% battery” alert when I was about to go home.

The camera is also pretty great for a phone camera. There are a bunch of different instagram-like settings, including a “square” setting, as well as panoramic and video settings. The zoom is pretty good too.

Video quality is great, too:

Of course, I have to make a bit of a mention of iOS7. I got used to it pretty quickly and frankly not much has changed except the surface. I don’t love the eye-searing green that accompanies the toggle switches and text message balloons, and the dock bothers me because it seems like a step backwards all the way to Mac OS X Tiger:

Tiger OS X

I definitely prefer the “platform” look of the dock from previous iOS iteration.

Otherwise, though, while I do miss the skeumorphic touches of previous versions of iOS, I can live with iOS7 and frankly haven’t noticed too much difference. The starkest difference, to me, is the Messages app. The speech bubbles are entirely flat now and have taken more getting used to than most of the changes, just because texting is a large part of what I do on my phone.

I also LOVE that the new Maps app will actually REDIRECT when you take a wrong turn! It’s like a real GPS!! I was VERY happy when I discovered this feature. It also has much better graphics and actually makes sense when you’re using turn-by-turn directions.

 

Overall, I can’t say anything bad about this phone. If you’re looking to upgrade, I would highly recommend the iPhone 5c.

Review: Motorola Razr HD

Why I Went With Android over iPhone

Motorola Razr HDMy first decision when buying a new phone was what OS to choose. I narrowed down the options pretty fast to iOS (iPhone) or Android, because RIM’s Blackberry lacks support from new app companies and Windows Phone doesn’t have much traction either. I didn’t want a phone that would be obsolete in a year.

My previous phone was Android-based, and it was decent but not great. I found that quality was inconsistent among the available apps and widgets—basically, a lot of them were terrible, which meant I had to sift through and research much more apps than I had anticipated. However, I was already using their products, such as Google Docs (now Drive), Google Voice, Gmail, GTalk, Google Music, and more, on an everyday basis.

I also considered getting an iPhone because I already have an iPad, which uses the same OS. iOS is very easy to use and isn’t flashy, and I enjoy its simplicity. In addition, the App Store seems to be more refined with better options.

In the end, the decision came down to which OS is most compatible with my current lifestyle. I already had the highest data plan, the prices were about the same, and both use 4G. For online file storage, a must for business on the go, I use Dropbox, which is available for both Android and iOS. I use most of the free Google web apps already, and the decision became even easier when Apple decided to use their own navigation system in place of the very trusted Google Maps. It was clear that Android fit my everyday needs far better than iOS.

Here is my review after over a month of use:


Price: $199 with 2-year contract from Verizon
OS: Android 4.0.4
Ownership Length: Over 1 month
Buy at Amazon.com (aff)


Pros:
1) Battery Life – Lasts over 2 full days at moderate use
2) Kevlar Back – Very durable and no need for an additional case. Just put a decent screen protector on the front and you are good to go.
3) Unlock Screen – The default unlock screen allows you to turn the phone to vibrate, make a phone call, view texts, or take a picture without additional steps. This is very handy.
4) Developer Features – I had a developer phone before and the features in the Razr HD are far superior. They include things like pointer location and CPU usage which gives better feedback on how your app works with the device.

Cons:
1) Size – It’s a very large phone and takes some getting used to. The width causes problems with one handed use at times.
2) No Charging Signal – There is no indication on the screen that the phone is charging.

Camera:
The camera is pretty good for outdoor pictures and average for low light pictures. The shutter speed is decent which is good for taking clear pictures. It works pretty well as an everyday point-and-shoot, but you are unlikely to win any awards with them. Instagram’s effects can always improve the look of these photos.

Suggested Things to Use With it:

Apps:
1) Waze Navigation (Here) – Waze is a GPS platform that routes you around bad traffic based on other user’s input. For example, it senses when you are driving slow and prompts you to input traffic conditions. The people using Waze behind you then are able to be automatically rerouted based on that information.
2) Google Voice for Voicemail (installed) – Google Voice allows you to change your default voicemail to your google number. Google then converts your messages into text so you can get a quick idea of its content. Android now allows you to integrate the voicemail with your contacts so can see the missed call and listen to voicemail from the recent calls list.

Mount: I use an Arkon Slim-Grip Windshield Mount ($11.23 at Amazon.com) for my car and I highly suggest it. I use it daily for GPS purposes and it moves around nicely without coming off the windshield. It actually fits most smartphones according to its description.

Summary:

My overall experience with the Razr HD has been great. The battery life makes a huge difference. I work anywhere between 12 and 16 hours a day, including an average of 3 hours with GPS direction, and still don’t come close to running out of battery life. Most of the time I can even go two days without charging while I sleep. The other thing I really like is the integration with the Google products I already use. Android has come a long way over the past 2 years. I would definitely recommend the Motorola Razr HD to anyone considering an Android-based phone.