Posted on Sunday, 23 September 2012
My black iPhone 5 arrived Friday afternoon and like a true Apple nerd, I was elated. It really is a beautiful phone, and it’s so light yet solid it kind of beggars the mind. It feels like a piece of solid aluminum, yet somehow hollow and insanely light.
However, it’s not all sunshine an puppy kisses.
Micron-level precision, macro-level dings
For all the hype about how finely detailed the construction process of the iPhone 5 is, there seems to be some kinks in the system. Apple talks about fine craftsmanship, and being damn near like a handmade watch.
Never before has this degree of fit and finish been applied to a phone […] Look at iPhone 5 and you can’t help but notice the exquisite chamfer surrounding the display. A crystalline diamond cuts this beveled edge.
As I mentioned, this is a really solid, beautiful device. But… well, the crystalline diamond must have traded shifts with a hunk of quartz when my iPhone was chamfered, if only for the bottom left portion. It’s only a minuscule nick, exposing less than a millimeter of shiny metal below, but it’s hardly what you expect out-of-box, and especially on a device touted for great build quality. That said, it’s TINY and it I’ll probably do worse to it on my own in the next two years. Apparently I’m not alone (Warning, DailyMail link… they love blowing shit out of proportion), but the picture of the scratched up back really is out of place (you don’t put your phone in your pocket with your keys, guys), and yes, early-adopters pay a price while the production line works out kinks.
Holy Mother of God, LTE is FAST
I’m sure the Android crowd in LTE markets are looking down their noses at me, but fuck off, twerps: AT&T just rolled out LTE in Seattle, so even a MotoGalaxaroid S Droid Monkeyfuck 5.1 with Wings wouldn’t have had LTE data here (on AT&T) until last week. And sweet science, I love it. Almost too much, according to AT&T’s billing department. After one day, I was warned that I was at 65% of my data usage for the month (to be fair, my billing cycle is a week and a half from renewing, but I usually use about 3-400 MB a month of a 2GB plan, soon to be 3GB). This morning, I had magically jumped to 90%. WHAT?!
After some noodling, what I’ve surmised is I’ve been hit by a 1-2 punch of overly eager software. First, after an extremely long iCloud-based backup restoration on the new phone, I was eager to get some music back on the phone. I’d already loaded my base set of hits via iTunes (even iCloud doesn’t magically port that over, unless you use Match, I guess), but I’m an avid user of Rdio and Amazon CloudPlayer. On Friday night, I was out with my wife, getting dinner and drinks. A song I liked came on the restaurant PA, and I thought I’d download the album on Rdio for our drive home (Bluetooth is a lovely thing for driving). The restaurant didn’t have free WiFi—heathens—but I figured the album was only about 80MB or so, and hey, good test of the LTE, right?
I normally leave cellular data syncing turned off on Rdio (precious data is precious), so I turned it on for the album download. Big mistake. What I didn’t realize was Rdio looked at my phone, looked at my list of albums that I had synced on my old iPhone, and said, “Well, shit me, he needs all those synced to his phone!” So, of course, while I was downloading my restaurant PA fav (Greg Laswell’s Take a Bow, btw), Rdio started downloading everything else. And I left the app open when I put the phone back in my pocket. And of course left it running to play the album on the drive home. All told, I synced roughly 1.3GB of music via LTE (in pretty damn good time, I would say) without realizing it. Ouch.
Of course, I did something similar, albeit on a smaller scale, with CloudPlayer, due to my sometimes flakey home net connection. Apparently, iOS gets a bit eager to maintain a connection, according to Logan Bowers (no relation, other than being Amazonians and the two of us being awesome people):
@gb my impression of iOS 6 is that it is more liberal about using the cellular network when the wifi isn’t rock solid.— Logan Bowers (@loganb) September 23, 2012
Battery Drain and the Lightning Connection
I may simply be using the phone more—because, of course, it’s brand new shiny—and the default brightness setting is OMFGBRIGHT, but I’ve been down to 20% each of the first two days. Today, however, I turned off the cellular data (watching my back til the end of the month), toned down the brightness, and have frankly used the phone less, and I’m at 90% at 7:30pm. Even still, I’m a little worried battery life may not quite match my old iPhone 4, especially when a power-hungry 4” screen and LTE are in the mix.
When you’re worried about the battery percentage on your phone, you start thinking about charging more than is considered healthy for a sane adult male, and I used to have a plethora of options. With the Lightning switchover, I’m down to one. What’s worse, adapters are in their infancy, and cheap knockoff cables are still a pipedream. I’m not even sure I could walk into an Apple store and grab an extra cable at this point. That said, I still think the size tradeoffs versus the old 30-pin dock connector will, in the long run, be entirely worth this little pain point.
I generally loathe iPhone cases. They take a great looking piece of hardware and make it look like an undesigned chunk of plastic. Your iPhone might as well be a Speak-n-Spell. I baby my possessions (OCD much?), and only put something of a protective layer on my old iPhone because the glass back caused the phone to slide off of anything, even a flat, level table top (I’m not kidding). However, I’ve already ordered a new Lazerwood backer for my iPhone 5. The black phone is, as stated, insanely gorgeous, but I’m a protective owner, and when I have an option to protect the device without making it look stupid, I take it. Lazerwood makes some stunning wood veneer protective “stickers” for the back of iPhone (among other things) and I can’t wait for my chevron patterned black cherry back to arrive. Gotta keep this thing pretty, damn it!
Where ma stretchy apps at?
One final niggle sticking in my craw: apps that haven’t been updated to use the larger screen. For most of my most used apps, the updates have been rolling in, and they look great. Sadly, though, it’s making the lagging apps all the more noticeable. It’s not quite as bad as the switch to Retina was, but you really have to pay attention to where you are tapping. No assuming the corners of the app are, and that’s very frustrating to a UX designer.
But, somehow, I’ll live. I know, first world problems, right?