Virgin Mobile began offering the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c yesterday, and this is quite likely the least expensive option for having an iPhone. Virgin is a no-contract carrier, meaning that you pay for the total cost of the phone up front and then pay as little as $35 per month for service. This lowest tier includes unlimited text and data, and 300 anytime minutes of calling. To take the bite out of that initial cost, Virgin Mobile is selling the unsubsidized phones for $100 less than Apple sells them. You can get the 16GB iPhone 5s for $550 and the 16GB iPhone 5c for $450.
Likely one of the main reasons the iPhone 5s is off to such a remarkable start is the amazing camera, which has features that no other camera has, smartphone or otherwise. An excellent article on Computerworld gives an in-depth look at the technology inside the iPhone 5s camera, including the value of the larger sensor in letting in more light. The article also discusses the new Image Signal Processor in the A7 chip that gives capabilities only found in high-end cameras. For example, it uses "tonal mapping" to independently enhance the contrast in individual areas of the photo. It also uses multi-zone metering to give you much better autofocus.
Unhappily I'm in the market for a new iPad mini, having dropped mine this morning and cracked the screen. So I'm doubly looking forward to Apple's announcement of new iPads in October. One rumor has said the event will be coming Oct. 15. I hope that's correct. Meanwhile, we still know little about the new iPad mini, while videos continue to surface showing in detail what the new fifth-generation iPad will look like. The latest video (see below) gives the clearest overview yet of the relative sizes of the current iPad and iPad mini compared to the fifth-generation iPad. And again it shows that the new iPad will be thinner, lighter, and narrower. It also shows that there will be a second microphone on the back of the device. I don't recall having seen that detail before.
There's a surprising lack of buzz surrounding the anticipated introduction of new iPads in October. I suspect one reason is that we already know a fair amount about the fifth-generation iPad: it'll be thinner, lighter, and narrower, with narrower bezels left and right, and a form factor similar to the iPad mini. Another reason may be that no one is expecting anything major, unlike last year when the iPad mini was announced. So far it's a bit of a mystery what sort of upgrade the mini will receive, with some rumors saying it'll get a retina display and others saying that a retina model won't be ready until next year.
One might think the plastic case on the iPhone 5c would make it more durable, but several tests have now shown that the 5s stands up much better. In fact, it even survives a drop of 10 feet when in Apple's new case. Android Authority was likely the first site to report a drop test, posting a video on the same day that the phones were first available.
The Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the new iPhone 5s has been well received. Apple says that half of smartphone owners don't use any security at all, so Touch ID should provide greater security just by making it easier for people to restrict access without having to go through the step of a passcode. But fingerprint sensors have been shown in the past to be vulnerable, and the day after the iPhone 5s was released, a group of hackers in Germany claimed to have defeated Touch ID security. (See the video below.) But it's not easy, and it's unlikely that most bad guys would go to this much trouble.
Here's how they describe the steps necessary to perform this hack:
I've already covered basic tips and useful hidden features in iOS 7. Now I'd like to cover a few new features that seem important for everyone to be aware of.
Last week I posted some basic tips for iOS 7. In this post I want to share some useful but not obvious features.
For those of you who find iOS 7 harder to see, in addition to selecting a darker wallpaper, as I explained in my previous post, you can make the new slimmer system font bold so that app names are more visible. Do this by going to Settings>General>Accessibility, and turning on Bold. In addition, you can increase the font size by going to Settings>General>Larger Type, and adjusting the slider. This doesn't appear to affect fonts on the Home screen but does increase the size of fonts in those apps that take advantage of this feature, including most of Apple's apps such as Mail.
Adoption of iOS 7 has been remarkable. According to the New York Times, an estimated 18[ercent of iOS users had downloaded iOS 7 within the first 24 hours. So many people were downloading it that some university networks crashed, and Apple's servers struggled under the load. This strong demand for the new software has led to problems.
So far I really like iOS 7, but my immediate impression was that it was harder to see. I had a light wallpaper and the white text on the lock screen and icon names was barely visible. (The text was white in the past, but it was superimposed over the darker shadow that give the icons their 3-D look.) So I immediately went to Settings>Wallpaper & Brightness and chose a darker image. Plus, I was initially confused about a few things. Here are some basic tips to help you get oriented.