Apple iPhone 5S Smartphone Review

Apple iPhone 5S

Apple unveiled its latest version of their iPhone today; the iPhone 5S. I find it ironic that today's unveiling was September 11 (911 anniversity) . Although the unveiling of the new model was interesting, it was hardly of the hoopola level from a major event that I'm used to seeing.  There are some interesting things to note about the new iPhone 5S and that's where our smartphone review will be focused.

Overview

The 5S definitely has some interesting features, the most notable are the first ever 64-bit processor and a new way to implement login security. Out with the password, in comes a fingerprint scanner. Let's don't forget some notable camera improvements as well. Yes, it does indeed have some first in phones involved here. However, there's also one notable thing that did not happen. The screen is the same size as the previous model.  In fact, the physical dimensions are exactly the same size as the iphone 5. 

iPhone 5S features

  • 64-bit A7 processor/M7 Coprocessor – Included in this new processor is the OpenGL ES 3.0 standard, meaning better graphics performance.  Apple claims it's twice as fast as the previous model. Now I'll add the frosting to the cake here. This nifty device also contains an M7 motion coprocessor. That's a mouthful but what it does for users is nice. It will take in the phone's various sensors including the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. Not only will applications that need or use real-time data benefit from this, the net effect will be less of a battery drain since it's less work the processor has to perform; thus an increase in battery life. 
  • Touch ID fingerprint-authentication system – The Home button located on the lower part of the front casing is depressed. This engages a scanner which detects differences in electrical charges caused by the various curved lines of a fingerprint and stores this information digitally. It should be emphasized this is not an image; it's more like a digital signature. It's very secure in that it cannot be stored in the Cloud. In fact it is actually stored in a secure spot inside of the processor. Supposedly, it will authenicate through an iCloud as well as the famous Apple iStore. It may be natural to be a tad skeptical since one would think this new technology would use more battery power. Apple says that the battery will be equal to or slightly longer in battery time than the previous one.  They claim 10 hours of 3G/4G LTE browsing will be available.
  • Improved Camera – This new 8 Megapixel camera specifically designed for this phone has a five-element lens and it is bigger in some respects. The lens includes an f/2.2 aperture, which is larger than the one in the iPhone 5 and has 1.5-micron pixels, which is more than the previous version. Another Apple first is the dual-LED True Tone flash, which uses a white and amber colored flashed, for cooler and warmer temperature flashes respectively. The new iOS7 system has some programs that will definitely benefit from this new camera hardware.  Just before the shot, the white balance and exposure is automatically calibrated for improving the highlights and the shadow areas. The picture sharpeness will also be enhanced by an improved auto-focus. Image stabilization is enhanced by taking a series of photos, and mixing them together for an improved picture quality. And for you video lovers, you have a 1080p HD recording capability.
  • Technical Specs - The 5S has more 4G LTE bands available than ever. It can pick up on 11 or 13 LTE bands depending on which carrier you go with. With this many bands, if you travel frequently you will have a better chance of locking into a LTE signal with this phone, definitely a strong consideration if you need that extra speed while on the road. Location finding includes assisted GPS and GLONASS; wireless includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz) and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology. There is no NFC capability; why that is, I do not know. To my knowledge none of the iPhones have NFC. Maybe one day they will, who knows. The 5S comes in 16, 32, and 64GB versions at $199, $299, and $399.00 respectively. 
  • Applications - The suite of programs including iMovie, iPhoto, and iWork can be dowloaded for free if an iPhone with iOS7 was activated after September 1, including phones besides the 5S. If you activated before September 1, you can still download these apps but you will pay for them.
  • Colors – The size of the 5S is the same as the iphone 5, including the chamfered edges. The colors offered include a new gold color, which many say is more of a champagne color. The other colors are space gray and silver.

The phone has some nice technical improvements although the basic design of the phone has remained the same. It seemed as though Apple was more concerned with technical improvements over the physical looks of the phone. It does seem to have some appeal with its improved processor and coprocessor, although time will tell how much that actually improves the performance of this phone. We shall see.

 

 

WiFi LTE Phones, Laptops, and Tablets

The technology field has some interesting terms, doesn't it; LTE, WiFi to name just a couple. It can be confusing, especially if you're a cell-phone user (who isn't), or have a need for a laptop or tablet PC and need Internet connectivity through the best means possible.  You used to hear LTE associated more with mobile usage and WiFi with PC usage. With tablet PCs now a standard niche in the PC industry, many of us are hearing both terms used. Let's look at these two terms, LTE and WiFi, and break it down so it makes sense, not only from a mobile perspective but from a PC perspective as well.

LTE Cell Phone Coverage

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and is associated with the term 4G, which means 4th Generation. Prior to LTE, 4G was the cutting-edge Internet connectivity standard associated with mobile phones, enabling the user a 3 to 8 mbps speed. With 4G LTE, the fastest technology, a 5 to 12 mbps is possible. Contrast those speeds with 3G, at 800kbps to 1mbps. A substantial portion of the U.S. is still operating mobile networks with 3G, although the major mobile network carriers, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint have converted over a considerable coverage area already to 4g LTE, and continue to convert over to it regularly. Recently, carrier T-Mobile is now beginning to convert to 4G LTE networks as well.

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint LTE Coverage

Many Internet users who travel and use a laptop on their trips need to be able to connect to the Internet. For years now, they have been able to do that through the mobile network (cell phone towers). And for several years, they have used 3G connectivity speeds until 4G came along and improved their speed. Now, the fastest of the 3 technologies, 4g LTE, is slowly becoming the new standard, although much of the U.S. is still not converted over to it.  Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint currently have LTE networks in place. As of October, Verizon has over 400 LTE markets established, AT&T has 60 markets, and Sprint has 24 markets. All 3 carriers are increasing that count regularly so if your area is not yet covered, be patient.  

Tethering

To enable Internet connectivity via the mobile network, you used to need a PC card, commonly referred to as an air-card, which was inserted into the laptop; however that setup has been for the most part, replaced. Today, the popular feature known as tethering, tethers the laptop to your cell phone. The plan pricing is based on amount of data transfer and most carriers offer it for a set monthly fee. 

Tablet Usage

LTE is now an optional model for table PCs. The Apple iPad is offered with a LTE capability, and the 4th generation iPad offers two frequency ranges, so that it can be used outside the U.S. It is not a popular option for most of the tablet industry, although with time, we should be seeing it as a viable model option with most tablet makers. 

LTE is a great feature to have if you watch a lot of streaming video, or do a lot of downloading. It will improve the performance of both of those evolutions and certainly should be a consideration if you fall into that category of user.