Friday, October 11, 2013

4G, contacts and calling

The iPhone 5S is nothing more than the 5 when it comes to calling, but with iOS 7 on board as well as a few more LTE bands, it means that it can function on pretty much any next-gen network around the world.
If you're in the UK, this means that you'll be able to connect to 4G on the likes of Vodafone, O2 and Three when their services are all up and running without a worry – something that will have been a hindrance to those wanting to connect to the super speeds with an iPhone 5.
iPhone 5S review
We tested the iPhone 5S on EE's network in the UK, and we were mightily impressed with the results. When there's a full signal, the phone is blisteringly quick over 4G, although when a couple of bars (or spots, now we're in iOS 7 territory) drop off, the speeds can slacken quite measurably too.
However, unlike its predecessor, there's a real feel that the iPhone 5S is a handset designed for 4G – although running at the faster connection does seem to cook the battery somewhat.


The call quality on the iPhone is nothing to shout about, with the slightly sharper edges of the phone making it even harder to hear people due to reticence to push it closer to your ear hole.
The sound quality emanating from the earpiece is decent without being stonkingly clear and there's not much in the way of audio enhancement to play with. It's worth noting that on rival handsets there's always a lot more that you can do to improve things in this respect.
In terms of the other person being able to hear you, things are more impressive, thanks to three microphones that enable excellent noise cancellation and can pick up a wide level of what you're trying to say.
iPhone 5S review
But therein lies the rub - is that too simplistic? To one person, being able to calibrate the sound levels of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great thing to be able to do, and they'll do so willingly. With the iPhone, many prefer simplicity, so the ability to be able to just press a button, make a call with a nice interface and move on will impress many.
There's no smart dialling here though - that really irks as it's an excellent method of getting to your contacts through the dial pad. Android 4.3 now has it baked into the OS, and it feels high time Apple did the same thing.
Facetime has been given a cheeky boost too thanks to the improved front camera, which displays really fast and clear images provided you've got a strong enough connection.
Is it ever going to take over the world in the way voice calling did? Nope, not even with an HD front facing camera. It's better though, and really helps with those lonely hotel trips.


The contacts on the iPhone are still rather dismal, and still something that Apple needs to address. We want far more than the list of contacts on offer, despite the list of letters at the side of your address book being very easy to slide down.
iPhone 5S review
It's a lot better than it was, allowing you to enable Facebook and Twitter to update your contacts book with pictures of friends when all the data matches.
But compare that to pretty much any Android phone now and you'll see the disparity: here you have to hope that things match in terms of email or other information and the iPhone will deign to connect them together.
If this fails, it's far from simple to have everyone matched up, so no high-resolution profile pics, no updates on what your friends are doing from within the app, and generally not a lot going on at all.
Apple could do so much more with the matching here, but it's a sticky mess if you want to link anyone together.
It's not a bad contacts system, it just could (and probably will) be so much better in the future.

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