So I purchased a new iPhone 5s last week, in case you missed all my tweets about it. It was sort of a rushed decision, but that’s how I make most of the important decisions in my life.
How I bought it
I purchased it from Flipkart. With Amazon throwing all the deals around, that would sound silly, but I got a good price from Flipkart as well. I have been mulling over buying a 5s for a while now (more on ‘Why?’ later) and have been looking at the discounts. I was under the impressions the deals are here to stay and I had plenty of time to consider but one day the deals started to vanish, which is when I made the split second decision to go for it.
I got the phone from Flipkart (WS Retail) for Rs. 36,990, with 1k cash back for using a VISA debit card, so Rs. 35,990. I know Amazon is selling it for cheaper now but it wasn’t back then. Only the gold model was available for around 36k but the color I wanted, Space Gray, which is also the one I ended up getting, had gone up to 42k everywhere except Flipkart. And Flipkart, especially WS Retail being extremely reliable (seriously, there is no one online I trust more than WS Retail for buying stuff from) I decided to pull the trigger. And the phone arrived in perfect condition with every thing as it should. Yes, I could have gotten it cheaper, but I got it at a fair discount as is and I’m fine with that.
Why I bought it
My reasons for buying phones is slightly different than most people’s. I buy phones not just to use them but to use them. I write about technology for a living. A phone is not just a device for me but a source of knowledge and it helps me write about the specific device, OS, and the platform in more detail when I have the device at hand. It’s a tool that helps me in my work, which is why I take my purchase decisions more seriously and with more thought than most people. Also, why I spend so much on these things, even though most people don’t feel the need to.
I needed an iPhone because I needed an iOS device with me. I already have a Nexus 5 with me, so my Android needs are covered but I did not have an iOS reference device. I have the iPad, but getting the iPad to use iOS is like going to a South Indian restaurant to eat pizza. The iPhone is and has always been the definitive platform for using iOS. The iPad I use is for reviewing mobile games, which is also something I need to do regularly for work.
If I have to talk about iOS or the iPhone as a platform, which I have to do quite often, I need a reference device at hand, preferably as latest as possible. The iPad is not good enough for that, hence the iPhone. Often, many of the new apps that are released are iPhone-only. Not just iOS-only, but iPhone-only. This means I either have to not use the app or use it in the shitty windowed mode on the iPad, neither of which is preferable.
Now I don’t actually review apps for a living like these people, but I like to stay up to date with them and try them out when they release. And even if I don’t review them, I still do have to write about them, so being able to try them first hand definitely helps a lot instead of going by screenshots or other people’s experiences. Also, iOS being the premier mobile platform for apps, it gets enough brand new major apps regularly for this to be a consideration. (This is why I don’t and probably won’t have a Windows Phone.)
So as you can see, I have legit reasons to want to buy the iPhone. And I’m going to get good use out of it in the year or so I intend to keep it, unlike most people who buy iPhones.
Why not the iPhone 6 then
Same reason I did not buy the iPhone 5s last year. Apple’s pricing in India is bonkers. I understand why they do it. Apple has established itself as a premium brand in India, to a point where pricing something low is simply not an option for them. They technically could make it cheaper if they want to, but they won’t because that dilutes the brand value. A Rolex shows the same time as a Timex, but the former is significantly more expensive, not just because of the materials being used, but also because the brand commands the price. Apple is at that point where it can slap any price on its products it wants and people will still buy it, no matter how butthurt some people get over it and the people who buy Apple products. Other companies think they can be like Apple simply by pricing their phones high but it does not work that way. The pricing does not dictate the brand value, but rather the other way around. Timex can make a gold watch and price it as much as a Rolex, but it will still be a Timex. An expensive Timex, but still a Timex. And Timex is not Rolex, and will never be. And neither will Sony, Samsung, LG, or HTC ever be Apple.
But just the way it is Apple’s prerogative to price its phones the way it wants, it’s my right to choose whether or not to purchase them. And I choose not to; not at those prices anyway. The iPhone 6 is going to be expensive at launch as usual, and the 6 Plus even more so. Even Apple won’t be able to justify spending over 20k extra on a 5s to get the 6. Besides, the things I want to do and the reasons I outlined above for getting the phone are perfectly possible with a 5s. Sure, having the 6 would be nicer, but I won’t be missing out on a lot.
Am I switching from Android
There was a point when iOS was miles ahead of Android. Apple took such a big step ahead of everyone when it launched the iPhone it pretty much sent everyone else back in time. But while Apple has since then continued making incremental updates to the platform at its own sweet pace, Android raced ahead right past it. It’s the classic example of the hare and the tortoise story, and it couldn’t be clearer who’s who here.
But now imagine the hare and the tortoise story, where the hare, after waking up from his nap, decides to run the opposite way instead of towards the finish line. That’s Apple, first with iOS 7 and then iOS 8. You rarely get to see a platform regress so much with a single update. The only company I thought who was capable of achieving this feat was Microsoft, and Apple beat them here as well. The mindbending ways iOS finds every day to disappoint you since 7 is just sad because it used to be such a good platform once upon a time.
Android on the other hand has improved at a breathtaking pace. Remember the Android of the Froyo and Gingerbread era, where it wasn’t just a tortoise, but a mentally and physically handicapped (and possibly a little bit dead) tortoise at that. The Android today is a modern, sleek, streamlined, attractive, and functional operating system, that continues to be as powerful as ever. While Apple took a simple OS and tacked features upon features on top until it started falling apart like a house of cards, Google took a functional rock of an OS and polished it until it shined like a billiard ball. Well, not quite, but it’s getting there, and with Android L, I think it’s finally there.
This just tells me that the only reason iOS used to be good is because it did just five things. The moment Apple started adding more functionality, they couldn’t keep it together anymore. Sure, you can be great at something when you are doing so few things but to do a lot and do them well is the real feat, which Apple clearly couldn’t manage. Android has always been doing a lot of things, but now it has started doing them well.
But coming back to my original topic, no, I won’t be switching from Android. Android is at its best right now and it is going to take its biggest leap yet in the form of Android L and I want to be there to see it. Just like I want an iPhone to experience iOS, I want an Android device to experience Android L (and a Nexus phone, no less, to experience it the way Google intended).
Actually, I’m going to use both my Nexus 5 and iPhone 5s together. I have a SIM in each and will use both as my daily driver. If you must know, the Nexus 5 has the primary SIM, but only because I didn’t want to cut it into a nano SIM as I have to move it around into other phones when I’m reviewing them.
How is the phone
I’m deeply unsatisfied with the software. Thankfully, it’s still silky smooth (most of the times) on the iPhone, unlike on the iPad. But the sheer number of bugs and issues in the platform is just deplorable. The legendary Apple quality has gone on a hike, although I wouldn’t blame that on Steve Jobs, or rather him not being around anymore. Whoever are incharge of software have consistently been dropping the ball the past couple of years and show no signs of picking it up. I’m personally glad I don’t have to use it as my primary phone anymore. There are many good things here still but it’s all clouded in a shit storm of bugs and issues. And I have a particular knack for finding them all, even though I don’t go looking.
Hardware-wise, the display is tiny. Like really, really tiny. I love being able to reach all of it with my thumb while still maintaining a firm grip over the phone but I can feel my eyes straining five minutes after looking at the screen. Not to mention everything looks small and it’s harder to type.
The phone itself is stunning, though. Beautifully finished aluminum with precision cut glass panels look and feel like they belong on an expensive piece of equipment. The Space Gray model, in particular, looks exquisite. It’s all finely crafted and wonderfully made and you can tell far more time was spent obsessive over its design than what you see on most other phones. It’s also pretty powerful, and the camera is terrific. The battery life is passable, though.
So what’s next
Nothing for now. Despite all being a year old, the iPhone 5s, the Nexus 5, and the iPad Air, all have at least one more year of life left in them. Not one device is showing signs of ageing (leaving aside iPad’s inherent software issues). I think I’m good for another year at least.
Also, with a proper iOS and an Android device with me, I’m very well covered for now, so that’s great too (seriously, no one cares about Windows Phone).
So overall, a good decision. I’d rate it 8/10. The decision, not the phone.