Inside My Backpack: iPhone 5s

Well, technically, I normally don't care my iPhone inside my backpack, but it is probably the most crucial device out of everything I travel with. Taking and sharing pictures, keeping all my travel plans and contact information, helping me navigate unfamiliar cities, transportation webs and jungle trails, staying in touch with friends and family, and so much more! Smartphones have had a huge impact on how people are traveling these days. apple iphone 4, iphone 5, iphone 5s

I got my first one (iPhone 4) just a few months before I set out on my epic round-the-world trip and I absolutely loved it for all the reasons I have already mentioned. But there was one thing that I was not thrilled about - having a Verizon iPhone meant that it didn't have a GSM chip so I couldn't use it anywhere outside the US. So for over a year, it was essentially a glorified iPod that I had to supplement with a "dumb" phone when I actually needed to use, well, the phone.

Not only it was frustrating juggling two phones when I needed to make a call (look up the number on my iPhone, then use the dumb phone to dial it), I was also severely limited when it came to staying connected. With no 3G, I could only get online while on WiFi (first world problems, I know).

Then came the iPhone 5 with its dual CDMA and GSM chipsets and eliminated (most of) those frustrations. I was finally able to get a sim card, plug it in, and actually use the phone as a phone (and access the Internet). Imagine that!

sim cards from around the world cut for the iphone

Now, with iPhone 5s released into the wild this week, I pondered the question of whether I should upgrade. Typically, I am not the one to chase the latest and greatest Apple gear. As I already mentioned, I did not jump on the iPhone bandwagon until iPhone 4. Then I skipped 4S and didn't get the 5 until four months after it was released. I used the 2010 MacBook Air through 2012 and the first iPad I had was after the new one was released. More importantly, I really do not like being a test bunny and never ever upgrade to the latest operating system until months (or, in case of Windows, years) after it is released.

But thinking about how the new improvements would benefit me on my travels, I went ahead and pulled the plug. And here's why:

  • Better camera - I am particularly excited for better lower light performance and automatic exposure adjustment in panoramic shots. While I love my Canon point-and-shoot, it doesn't do very well in these two situations. Neither did iPhone 5:

    Case in point - a bit too much light in this panoramic shot of Lisbon

  • More LTE bands supported - while I have been able to access the Internet internationally now, it has all bee 3G so far. Hopefully that will change now with more international LTE support.
  • Fingerprint reader - I was very skeptical about this one after experiencing nothing but frustration with the fingerprint reader on ThinkPads years ago. Now that I have the phone, I have to admit that it works like a charm. I never changed my four digit passcode to a more secure six digit one because I didn't want to waste that much time entering it every time. Now with the convenience of fingerprint reader, I can beef up security without sacrificing usability.
  • New processor - I don't care much about the merits (or the lack of thereof) 64 bit processor brings, but I figured because the new iOS 7 is so much more graphic-intensive, it wouldn't hurt to have the latest hardware running it.
  • Getting it for free - yup, you read that right! I can sell my iPhone 5 on Gazelle and get $315 for it, then get a new iPhone 5s for $299. I figured it would be a wash with tax but I forgot about the Verizon upgrade fee. So after all, it turned out to cost $35 ($350 out the door minus $315 from Gazelle). Still not a bad deal! Btw, if you want to sell yours, you can use my friend referral link for Gazelle to create a new account and both of us will get $10. I'd sure appreciate if you do!

My new shiny iPhone 5s [box]I have been playing with the new phone for the last day or so, and I am having some reservations about the new iOS, but I can't wait to test out the new camera features and the LTE support. Another trip, perhaps? :)

Tips & Tricksdimagear, imb