By Taylor Martin | September 10, 2013 6:42 PM
The iPhone 5S is finally official, alongside its cheaper, “unapologetically plastic” sibling, the iPhone 5C. We have heard rumors of both since not long after the iPhone 5 launched last year, and the closer today’s event got, the more secrets started to spill out.
Today, we knew practically everything about both smartphones before Tim Cook & Co. ever took the stage. Many predicted today would be a fairly disappointing day for Apple fans. And while some seem infatuated with the color options of the 5C, the fingerprint scanner or A7 on the 5S, or iOS 7, there’s an air of discontent and gloom hanging over the Internet – like after paying and arm and a leg and waiting years to see your favorite band perform, only for them to play a short set of their absolute worst songs.
Every year, we see the same ho hum aftermath of the fall Apple announcements. But this year is different. There really isn’t a whole lot to be excited over, unless the new iOS 7 interface or fingerprint scanning blow your mind.
As such, we’ve composed a list of the five iPhone 5S disappointments.
Same storage as always
With ever-improving capabilities, graphics, and application libraries, storage space is more important than ever, particularly on devices that do not allow for expansion. The iPhone has come in the same exact storage capacities for years now.
We were surprised to see Apple not push the envelope in storage, considering competitors have caught up and started offering comparable storage capacities and 128GB NAND flash storage is being made by Toshiba, Samsung, Intel, and others. Sure, the more expensive storage options may have dug into the high profit margins Apple is so proud of, but it would have been the seriously bold move Apple needed this time around.
To that end, there is nothing revolutionary or inspiring about the iPhone 5S. The closest feature to that is the fingerprint scanner, which quickly avoids the need to enter a PIN each and every time you pick up your phone.
In that sense, fingerprint scanning is useful, but quite limited. The Touch ID app opens the door for some great functionality in the future, such as social logins, faster App Store or iTunes purchases, etc.
Outside that, there isn’t anything worth getting too excited over. The A7 chip and its 64-bit architecture is great, but likely won’t yield a ton of improvements notable to most end users; the camera was already great, but with PureView and OIS, we all know it could be even better; iOS 7 is mostly skin deep; and the rest of the hardware is virtually the same.
The iPhone 5S is the epitome of iterative, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But this iPhone is missing a needed wow factor.
Seriously? … Gold?
The iPhone 5C comes in a a small selection of bright, pastel colors: yellow, green, blue, white, and red. The iPhone 5S comes in the two previously offered color options – black/slate (now called space gray) and white/silver – as well as a new color, gold.
In actuality, the gold color option is more along the lines of a champagne color. But … really? Gold?
We’d seen this color leak a few times, but we hoped it was fake. Is there anyone out there that actually likes the gold color option?
No optical image stabilization
It’s no secret the iPhone 5 is capable of taking some fantastic photos. Just like the two versions before it, the iPhone 4 and 4S, the iPhone 5 was wildly popular among photographers and photo enthusiasts – so much so, the term iPhonography was coined.
With the iPhone 5S, Apple improved the camera, and we’re quite thankful. Like HTC earlier this year with the One’s UltraPixel camera, Apple kept the same resolution while increasing the physical size of the sensor. At 1.5µ pixels, the 8-megapixel sensor will capture more light than 13-megapixel sensors of the same size. This is part of the reason the HTC One’s 4-megapixel camera is so impressive.
But that’s only half the story. The HTC One, like many other recent smartphone cameras (such as the Lumia 920, 1020, Note 3, etc.), utilizes optical image stabilization (OIS). The entire camera rig is stabilized mechanically to enable longer shutter times without the natural shakiness of your hand ruining the images. This is extremely useful in low-light situations. Instead of mechanical stabilization, a hardware feature, the iPhone 5S uses digital stabilization.
Despite the new dual-flash capabilities of the iPhone 5S, its low-light performance will suffer due to hardware limitation, unless you just so happen to have a camera mount, tripod, and third-party app handy at any given time.
There’s a reason OIS is quickly becoming a standard feature in mobile image sensing.
To many, NFC is a useless feature with limited functionality. It’s a standard that hasn’t really taken off, despite hundreds of mobile devices actually coming equipped with the technology.
However, NFC is easily one of the most understated features around. It’s fantastic for quickly sharing small bits of data, even across multiple platforms. (You can send URLs between Android and Windows Phone by tapping to NFC-equipped phones together.) But it’s also useful for quick paring of Bluetooth devices, mobile payments, user-defined settings toggles from NFC tags, gathering information, and all sorts of other things.
Why Apple fails to recognize the full potential of NFC is beyond us, and once it finally does, we may actually see the full potential of NFC. We’re stuck in a catch-22 of sorts.
Tell us, readers. What do you hate about the iPhone 5S, if anything? If not, tell us what you love most about it in the comments below!