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Brief Hands-On with the New iPhones

After hitting golfballs for an hour at the range with my brother, I convinced him to swing by our local Verizon Wireless store to check out the iPhone 5C and 5S. Here are some brief thoughts:

iPhone 5C

Walking up to the Apple-dedicated section of the store, the first thing that catches your eye is the color of the 5C demo units. A little thicker than the current iPod Touches, the extra weight makes the plastic body feel very much like a premium device. All the buttons on the case feel solid, clicky, and consistent. The front face is essentially the same as a white iPhone 5, but with a subtle, colorful border.

Although not indicative of the 5C’s future sales (which I anticipate will be really strong), my brother commented on how much more he liked the colors than the metal look of the 5S.

iPhone 5S

It’s understandable if you think the 5S looks near-identical to the iPhone 5 — it does.

However, once you pick it up there are some small, noticeable differences. From my brief look, Apple really nailed the colors for the metal backing in the 5S — the contrast between the face color and the back is much more distinct than with the 5. Whereas the black iPhone 5 looked like one solid color; the 5S’s “space gray” back gives the device a really nice two-toned look. It’s the small things.

The most noticeable feature of the 5S is the Touch ID sensor. The home button is now surrounded by a thin ring of metal with the same accent color as the phone. (Also notable: the button lacks the small rounded-rectangle icon that every other iPhone / iPod Touch has.) This extra attention to the home button has left it feeling extremely sturdy, and I think it will hold up much better over time than the previous ones.

A new standard

If you look at the Macbook line, you see a product with two tiers: an everyday user “air” level and a premium “pro” level. The newest iPhones follow that model. The 5C (Air) is designed to be for everyone; a solid workhorse which is both fun and functional. The 5S (Pro) is the best Apple can create; the best materials and the latest technology.

I wouldn’t expect the hardware design of either iPhone to change drastically over the next few years, rather we’ll continue to get fantastic small improvements (Touch ID, better camera) and increasingly powerful software to take advantage of them.

Saturday, 21 September 2013