Category Archives: Reviews
The Master Reveals all about the New iPhone!
A little over three weeks ago iSensei took possession of the latest and greatest from Apple, the iPhone 5. (You may have heard of it–it was even on the News one night!)
As a physical object, it barely looks manufactured. More like it was carved out of a huge chunk of metal in one piece, but with laser sharp perfection. You can hardly tell this thing has any seams. We got the black model, which is ALL black, including the buttons. The mid-section of the back is a matte slate grey (i.e. a lighter shade of black) made of anodized aluminum with a glossy black Apple icon and the word “iPhone”. Very classy!
When some prototypes and mockups of the new iPhone leaked out a few months back, this design was one of them. Surprisingly (to iSensei) the people leaving comments on that post went on about how this particular design would be the ugliest iPhone ever. Really? Now, it’s true seeing a picture of a thing and holding one in your hand makes a big difference, and seeing this final design fully executed it’s one of the sharpest designs one can imagine.
You notice right away it’s taller, but not grotesquely so (like some of those 5-6″ Android models), and by virtue of being the same width as recent models, it feels just right in your hand. The surprise when you pick it up is the weight, or lack thereof. It feels like half the weight of the iPhone 4S, which it’s not but, by being thinner, front to back, it feels amazingly light. But not flimsy (see above). All in all, another Apple industrial design that will end up in some museum or 12.
We turn it on and what do we see? A big beautiful, vividly colored screen. The 4S’s Retina Display was a beauty but they improved the color range and saturation on this year’s model (still Retina, of course). Then you notice the FIVE tiers of icons, not four. Now it really looks tall. So now you’ve got 25% more space for apps on each screen. It helps if you have a lot of apps.
What’s next? Ah, yes, let’s launch an app. Zip! Well, that was fast. Overall performance is very snappy. Cellular service? Not sure what the actual difference there is between the terms, LTE and 4G, if any, but either way, it’s quite an improvement. We’re finding 4G/LTE is faster than WiFi (which is faster this time around also), so if you’re in an area with no (or weak) WiFi, the 4G will more than do the job. Web pages load fast, app downloads are quick. All in all an improved experience.
Cameras? Most excellent, as Bill & or Ted would say. The 4S’s front facing camera was a big step up but the refined lenses on this model create for even better looking images. Better stabilization on video for us shaky-handers also. FaceTime back-facing camera now does 720p video, so you look more beautiful than ever to others! Built-in Panorama is a nice feature and great for capturing those wide angle shots that give you a true sense of your environment. And very easy to use. Perfect for traveling.
Battery life is about the same as the previous model, which is pretty impressive, given they’ve packed more power into this AND put it all in a smaller case.
The little built-in speakers even sound a bit better. Oh, and they’ve done something clever with the earpiece and mic so that both you and your caller sound better to each other. We like that. Headphone jack is on the bottom, which makes sense for how most people put their phones in their pocket.
And, yes, there is the new, MUCH smaller cable connector, called Lightning (oooo!) that is a PITA from the perspective of all the old 30-pin cables we all have sitting around, but you can see that the size difference is an important development towards making the iPhone (and future models) more compact and lighter. Necessary evolution. Like when we lost our tails. It was a drag but we got over it. Mostly. The new connector is a solid fit with the iPhone and it’s reversible so you don’t have to poke around trying to figure which side is up. Small point, yes, but it helps.
Ooops! Almost forgot about the new Earpods (‘Earbuds’ is so 2007). Definitely an improvement. Noticeably better sound, both music and phone calls. Larger inline controls, set up higher. A bit too high for iSensei but a nice upgrade overall.
Overall, yet another lovely piece of useful equipment from the World’s Kickass Technology company. And iSensei, like many others, remembers the day not ALL that long ago where the world couldn’t care less about this odd little computer company. Certainly those days are LONG gone. Keep up the good work, Apple.
Labelled “the ultimate iPhone, iPad and iPod manager”, iExplorer 3 does seems to be a very comprehensive piece of work. iSensei has long had PhoneView from Ecamm Network in his dock for its ability to look into the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch as if they were a mounted hard drive, able to view and manipulate individual files directly, which you can’t do within the devices themselves nor from iTunes. This new iExplorer from Macroplant seems to take that concept even further.
As you can see from this screenshot (don’t ask iSensei who this ‘Ricardo’ is. No idea) you can view your IM messages, contacts, notes, photos & videos, apps, iCloud files, call history, voicemail messages, etc. etc. Pretty much everything that’s stored on your iOS device, including what you’ve worked on in 3rd party apps! You can drag off music to your computer and it’ll even skip any duplicates.
Nice to be able to see the specs of your device and what you’ve consumed in memory. It’s clean, nicely designed and could be an iSensei Essential. The stickler is the price: $35. That’s a bit steep, in our book. (Still, PhoneView is only $5 less and doesn’t seem to do quite as much and certainly not as purty.) And, like PV, it does support ALL iPod touches, iPhones and iPads ever created. It’s Mountain Lion-ready and Retina Display enhanced.
This is a tough one. iSensei may just have to forego his 3-martini lunch tomorrow and buy this sucker. Check it out and let us know what YOU think!
What We Know That We Were Already Pretty Sure Of
(And what we didn’t)
Well, the Big Day has come and gone and what have we learned? For one thing, we learned iSensei is a pretty good judge of impending iPhones. Let’s take his posting from the other day and see what, if anything, he missed. (Unlikely, being so wise and all but…)
- Larger 4″ (diagonal) screen - Yup. (but that was easy) In terms of specifics: 1136×640 pixel resolution (iPhone 4S was 960×640) and an improved screen ratio of 16:9, same as HDTV/film proportions. Now the movies won’t get cropped off at the sides. Sweet. Whatever content is still in 4:3 ratio will just float on a black background. 44% better color saturation. Not 43 or 45. Exactly 44. Also, thinner cover over the actual screen, which will reduce glare. Good.
- Larger case - See first entry. But, get this, even with the taller configuration (in portrait mode) the whole thing is 18% thinner and 20% lighter! Same width as the 4S. 7.66 mm thin, thinnest phone out there. Less than ⅓ of an inch. (Watch for paper-thin iPhone 6, coming in 2013!) Heck, the new iPod touch (more on that later) is less than ¼ of an inch thick!!
- Metal back - “Slate Black” and “Silver Aluminum” finish. OK, close enough.
- New smaller dock connector - Tagged that one. Called Lightning (uh, ok… better than “9-pin Connector” we presume). Now, we can all admit that having to buy new chargers and such (or at least Apple’s converters) is no fun. I can accept though, after almost 10 years (a millennia in computer years) of the fairly large 30-pin connector that to make these devices smaller, lighter and capable of more, you’re be foolish NOT to introduce a smaller, faster and better version. Best part, it’s reversible, so there’s no wrong way to insert it. Adapters are at a premium price ($29/just adapter & $39/full cable), which is not the iSensei way. It’s like they WANT to make money! Sheesh. The iMan would have given them away.
- Headphone jack on the bottom - Yeah. I guess it is. I hope the new 9-pin adapters will accommodate the headphone jack at the bottom, given how most iOS devices sit, bottom down, in speakers, chargers and the like.
- New iOS (operating system) – But of course - version 6.0. I’ll be covering the details of this, as there are many, in a separate iOS 6 posting. The release date for this new iOS is Wed, Sept 19th. See this post for what iOS devices can run it.
- More Siri - Yup, again. More speakable access to data. Plus, thank Jobs, you can launch apps verbally! More on this in iOS 6 report.
- Improved earbuds, nay, Earpods! - Totally! These things look very nice. Completely redesigned for the ear, with better noise reduction and a more comfortable fit. Additional speaker for midrange. Still the trademark Apple white. Shipping today for $29.
- 4G/LTE - Exactly. All U.S. carriers will broadcast on this soon, if they don’t already. The major ones do now. Meaning? Considerably faster cellular connection.
- 3D - Nope. Stereo speakers - Didn’t think so. NFC - It won’t, so don’t even bother to ask what the hell that is.
BOOM! 100% for the iSensei!! The NFC (Near Field Communication) was what many people expected. Instead, we got a whole different approach with PASSBOOK, which we’ll discuss more in the iOS report.
OK, that’s the rundown from iSensei’s 9/10 post. Let’s see what else was added that wasn’t even on our radar…
- New A6 Processor. Twice as fast as the A5 that was in last year’s iPhone 4S. They did some demos using games, which always tax the system the most, and Wow. This thing looks and responds as well as a full console unit. Zoom!
- Faster, better Bluetooth connection (v.4), which is good, because there’s a lot of BT speakers, headphones, mice, etc out there and iSensei finds BT too wonky too much of the time.
- WiFi improved - A very good thing, given how much we’re all relying on it and more all the time. We could throw some tech specs at ya: 802.11n 2.4 & 5 gHz, up to 150 mbps, so there!
- Battery life boosted - Despite what this more ambitious system consumes, you’ll get 10 of WiFi, 8 hours LTE/4G talk, 10 hours video, 40 hrs music and 225 hours standby time. (But seriously, who ever goes 10 days without using their iPhone? More like 10 minutes for the Worldly Wise One.)
- Groovier Front-Facing (iSight) Camera - iPhone has had a great camera, certainly since the 4S. Here they tweaked all the 4S specs to get more out of them. Still has 8 megapixel lens, creating images 3264×2448 pixels. Has a sapphire lens cover for protection (and don’t you just LOVE sapphire?!) Better noise reduction, especially in low light. 40% faster at snapping shots. Very good. And, built-in Panorama functionality. Not a new concept, as the iPhone has had 3rd party apps to do this and many other (otherwise inferior!) smartphones already had it. It’s a sweet trick: the camera guides you along on how to move it to capture shots that exceed the width of the normal lens and stitches them together to create one great big panoramic image. Awesome on trips and vacations. Oh, and it can now take still shots while capturing video! Slick trick.
- Improved Back-facing (FaceTime) Camera - Now you can use FaceTime over 3G at 720p HD video. You’ve never looked better!
- Upgraded Audio - Better (tiny) speakers with noise canceling for speakerphone. Built-in earpiece also has noise canceling. It captures a broader sampling of sound coming into phone, should make caller sound fuller, less tinny.
Same prices as last year’s 4S for much more of a phone. Without contract? You don’t want to know. If you have to ask…
There are about a million different photography apps out there, right? Maybe 2 million? Now most of them are primarily for the iPhone and everybody seems to have their favorite and iSensei is no different – except his choice is better and it’s called SNAPSEED. It’s a sweet piece of work that puts most of the photo apps to shame, in our most humble opinion. One of the nicest things about it is that it has an iPhone app, iPad app and a Macintosh program so you can really get a feel for using it frequently in different environments. What makes it so great, you ask? Good question, little ones! Read the rest of this entry
Don’t know if you folks have ever tried using any of the apps/services that let you create custom cards and postcards that are actually printed on paper and then sent via some guy or gal who lugs around this heavy bag on their shoulders, painfully walking from door to door to door, delivering useless stuff nobody really needs, well… You’re in for a treat! Read the rest of this entry
Before you even read this, be sure to check out what models of Macs and MacBooks will run this new and improved system.
Impressions from using it will be updated as iSensei explores Apple’s new OS. Stay tuned.
- wow! Did they hyperdrive SAFARI! It’s like…ZOOM… every time iSensei selects a new bookmark. And you can watch as it gracefully accelerates. Sweet.
- Like having NOTIFICATION CENTER available here. Keeps one from having to go to 6 different places for relevant data. iSensei can see this helping him to stay on top of his busy schedule and obligations. (What? The Prez is on the phone again!? Alright, tell him we’ll call him back.) Just swipe left with two fingers from outside the right side of the trackpad, into the trackpad itself. Opposite to get rid of it. Or click on the new icon on the far right of the top Menu Bar (see it in Blue, below)
It’s important to note that you can control when and what type of alerts you get, in case you’re getting too many or not enough. In SYSTEM PREFERENCES (under the Apple menu from anywhere) go to NOTIFICATIONS (top row, far right). From there you can choose exactly how you best like being alerted (or selectively not be). Customize, baby, it’s all the rage. Read the rest of this entry