September 18, 2013, 1:30 PM — Today is a big day for Apple. iOS 7 has been released into the wild, and the reviews of Apple's vastly different mobile operating system have also arrived. Reviews of the new iPhone 5S have also started to appear. I've compiled snippets and links below so you can get a feel for what reviewers are saying about these two new products.
Let's start with iOS 7.
iOS 7 Reviews
Macworld has a long, detailed review and seems quite positive about what iOS 7 has to offer despite a few rough edges here and there. Macworld also loved the changes to Safari in iOS 7.
I’ve spent a decent amount of time with iOS 7 since its debut earlier this year. I like it. There. I said it. I’m pro-iOS 7. To me, the new interface looks sleek and clean and modern. It smacks of purpose-driven design. Whenever I returned to my iOS 6 reference devices, the interface seemed funny and cartoonish—the same way I think the early Aqua stylings of OS X would look from the vantage point of Mountain Lion. The world has moved on, and a smartphone OS today doesn’t need to do the same thing that it did six years ago when the market was still brand new.
In my opinion, there’s a lot to love about iOS 7, even with its rough edges. As third-party apps start to be built around its new capabilities and embrace its new design, I think there will be even more to recommend it to users. But for now, it’s clear which way the wind is blowing, and even if you hold off upgrading to iOS 7 today (or this week), its arrival on your iOS devices is inevitable.
I did my own review of iOS 7, and I was quite pleased with my experience. It's certainly worth an upgrade. I can't imagine using iOS 6 again now.
In an earlier article, I barked a lot about how I didn’t like iOS 7′s design. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the final release version of Apple’s new mobile operating system, and my perspective has changed quite a bit. In this review, I’ll tell you why I’ve warmed up to iOS 7, and why you should definitely consider upgrading to it if you are still running iOS 6.
TechCrunch seemed quite thrilled with iTunes Radio and the new Control Center. I can't blame them, I love both features too.
There’s a lot more going on in iOS 7, including new sounds, dynamic wallpapers, changes to the design of Calendar, Notes, Reminders and more, but the big shifts that go beyond new design are those listed above. There’s no question that iOS 7 will be a dramatic change from the iOS many users already know and love, but on balance it’s an update packed with plenty of new features that make using Apple’s mobile devices easier and more enjoyable.
Ars Technica has an extremely detailed review, complete with benchmarks. I must disagree with Ars about the battery life. I haven't seen any difference between iOS 6 and iOS 7 on my iPhone 5. If there is a problem on some devices, I hope Apple releases a quick fix soon.
Successfully walks the line between “different enough to be unmistakably new” and “familiar enough not to be terrifying.”
Whatever you think of Apple’s aesthetic choices, the new design feels more consistent and cohesive than before.
New features like Control Center, Today View, and sorting options in Mail will quickly prove themselves essential. Most of the functional changes, however small, are for the better.
Well-optimized for the Apple A5 and A6 SoCs that power so much of the company’s current lineup.
Day-one availability for every device on the support list.
Didn’t break any of the apps I used, though some displayed strange visual artifacts. Most developers should be issuing iOS 7-tuned updates in the coming weeks.
Generally, Apple’s services aren’t as robust or as all-encompassing as Google’s—Google Now is often more intelligent than Siri, for example, and the more of your data you have in Google’s cloud, the wider that gap becomes.
Apple still limits customization in the name of simplicity, which is probably the right call for most people but can be frustrating for power users.
Flashy animations with too-long durations are impressive the first time, but frustrating by the 100th.
Does not always play well with non-Retina displays.
iPhone 4 performance is tolerable but choppy.
“Fragmentation” isn’t the F-word for iOS that it is for Android, but depending on the device you have, you may not be getting all of iOS 7’s features.
Battery life is down across the board compared to iOS 6.
David Pogue at the New York Times thinks it's worth installing, but has some reservations about the new look of iOS 7. I suspect he isn't the only one, the new icon designs do take some getting used to coming from iOS 6.
The look of iOS 7 is sparse, white — almost plain in spots. No more fake leather, fake woodgrain, fake green felt, fake yellow note paper. It’s all blue Helvetica Neue against white.
The complete absence of graphic embellishments makes it especially utilitarian — in both senses of the word. That’s good, because whatever button or function you need is easier to find; it’s bad, because, well, it can look a little boring.
Then again, the new look is primarily visible at the Home screen, where a jarringly different color palette greets you on the Apple app icons, and on the options screen. The rest of the time, you’ll be using your regular apps, many of which will look no different than before.
The look of iOS 7 may grab you or not. But once the fuss about the visuals dies down, something even more important comes into focus: the work that’s been done on making iOS better. The longer you spend with the new OS, the more you’re grateful for the fixing and de-annoyifying on display.
I think you should install it. The structure, layout and features represent some of Apple’s best work. The look of iOS 7 — well, that judgment is up to you.
iPhone 5S Reviews
Let's move on now to the reviews of the iPhone 5S, which includes an 64-bit A7 chip and an M7 motion coprocessor.
John Gruber at Daring Fireball has a detailed review that includes the iPhone 5C, as well as the iPhone 5S.
So what has Apple delivered with the iPhone 5S?
With the A7 they’ve doubled CPU performance in exactly one year, at no apparent cost to battery life. They’ve potentially obviated the need for standalone motion trackers like Fitbits and Nike Fuelbands. And they’ve started a transition to platform-wide 64-bit computing years ahead of their competition.
With Touch ID they’ve eliminated the need to enter a passcode to unlock your phone and a (one hopes) complex password to download apps and media from the iTunes Store. Mere conveniences, yes, but very nice ones indeed. They’ve also potentially set the stage for numerous future conveniences. Imagine Touch ID integrated with the upcoming iCloud Keychains.
With the camera they’ve created a simple, intuitive interface for taking bursts of fast action or won’t-stay-still kids and pets. It’s a wonderful hardware feat to put a 10 fps still camera in a remarkably thin mobile phone (a phone with no inelegant bulge to accommodate more distance between lens and sensor, at that). But the real innovation — there’s that word — is software, right there on the device itself, that makes it easy to select only the shots from those bursts that you really want to keep, and to throw away the rest.
This is what innovation, real innovation, looks like.6 It’s like the Thomas Edison quote, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Innovation is missed by most people because it is so often incremental.
Anandtech also did a very detailed review of the iPhone 5S, and seems to agree with Gruber that the iPhone 5S offers evolutionary innovation, rather than anything revolutionary. The site notes the sheer graphics power in the iPhone 5S as well.
There’s more graphics horsepower under the hood of the iPhone 5s than there is in the iPad 4. While I don’t doubt the iPad 5 will once again widen that gap, keep in mind that the iPhone 5s has less than 1/4 the number of pixels as the iPad 4. If I were a betting man, I’d say that the A7 was designed not only to drive the 5s’ 1136 × 640 display, but also a higher res panel in another device. Perhaps an iPad mini with Retina Display? There’s no solving the memory bandwidth requirements, but the A7 surely has enough compute power to get there. Not to mention that Apple hasn’t had issues in the past with delivering a SoC that wasn’t perfect for the display.
At the end of the day, if you prefer iOS for your smartphone - the iPhone 5s won't disappoint. In many ways it's an evolutionary improvement over the iPhone 5, but in others it is a significant step forward. What Apple's silicon teams have been doing for these past couple of years has really started to pay off. From a CPU and GPU standpoint, the 5s is probably the most futureproof of any iPhone ever launched. As much as it pains me to use the word futureproof, if you are one of those people who likes to hold onto their device for a while - the 5s is as good a starting point as any.
Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal was delighted with the iPhone 5S's fingerprint reader, and thinks that it's the "best smartphone on the market."
The iPhone 5S is the first digital device I've seen with a simple, reliable fingerprint reader—one you can confidently use, without a thought, to unlock the device instead of typing in a passcode. You can even use this fingerprint reader, called Touch ID, to authorize purchases from Apple's App, iTunes and e-book stores.
It sounds like a gimmick, but it's a real advance, the biggest step ever in biometric authentication for everyday devices. After using Touch ID, I found it annoying to go back to typing in passcodes on my older iPhone.
David Pogue at the New York Times was also delighted by the iPhone 5S's fingerprint reader, but he also thinks that the iPhone 5S still has some stiff competition in various Android phones.
The most heavily promoted feature is the 5S’s fingerprint sensor, which, ingeniously, is built into the Home button. You push the Home button to wake the phone, leave your finger there another half second, and boom: you’ve unlocked a phone that nobody else can unlock, without the hassle of inputting the password. (And yes, a password is a hassle; half of smartphone users never bother setting one up.)
The best part is that it actually works — every single time, in my tests. It’s nothing like the balky, infuriating fingerprint-reader efforts of earlier cellphones. It’s genuinely awesome; the haters can go jump off a pier.
Now, Apple’s competition in the Android world is fierce and gaining; the competitors include phones that are equally beautiful (from HTC), phones that take spoken commands without your having to press a button (from Motorola) and phones in every conceivable screen size (Samsung).
Engadget thinks that the iPhone 5S is the best iPhone ever.
Is the 5s the best iPhone ever made? Yes, though that shouldn't come as a surprise. Apple took a good product and made it better through hardware upgrades, new features and a completely revamped software. In what would otherwise be considered a mundane update to the iPhone 5, Apple somehow managed to appeal to both the geek (64-bit support, M7 coprocessor, Touch ID) and the average Joe (a fresh, colorful iOS 7), all while laying the groundwork for the company's future.
TechCrunch goes ever farther than Engadget and pronounces the iPhone 5S to be the best smartphone on the market right now.
With the iPhone 5s, Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available. The hardware may resemble its predecessor in many key ways, as with the 4-inch Retina display, but it improves dramatically in areas like the camera where it makes the most difference to every day users, and in the addition of the fingerprint sensor, which is already a feature I miss when I switch back to older generation devices or the iPhone 5c. And thanks to the 64-bit A7 processor, this phone, more than any iPhone before it, is likely to be the device that grows more appealing as the software ecosystem catches up, which is great news for buyers looking for something that isn’t so easily replaced by the next big thing that comes along.
CNet liked the iPhone 5S, but calls it to task for a screen that's not as large as some of its Android competitors.
The good: The iPhone 5S delivers an improved camera, a nifty fingerprint sensor, and a next-gen CPU and motion-tracking chip. Apple throws in the iWork app suite for free. iOS 7 adds some nice step-ups, too, including AirDrop file transfers and the Android-like Control Center.
The bad: External design is identical to that of the iPhone 5, including a 4-inch screen that looks downright tiny next to Android competitors. For now, the fingerprint sensor only works with Apple apps. The 64-bit A7 processor and M7 motion-tracking chip don’t have killer apps yet. iOS 7 differences are potentially jarring for longtime iPhone users.
The bottom line: The iPhone 5S is not a required upgrade, but it's easily the fastest and most advanced Apple smartphone to date.
What's your take on iOS 7 and the iPhone 5S? Will you be buying an iPhone 5S? Are you going to upgrade to iOS 7? Tell me in the comments below.