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iPhone 5S - looking back after six months

After an extended review loan, the gold iPhone 5S is winging its way back to Apple. Here are my thoughts after six months with the Apple iPhone 5S:

Passed the acid test

Apple’s iPhone 5S passed the patented Bennett device acid test with flying colours.

Here’s how it works. I keep all the review kit along with my own devices charged up and sitting on or near my desk. Everything connects to cloud services and either synched or easily synched. There are some spare sims in the phones.

This means I can pick any device without having to think about it as I leave the house. After giving everything a try, I make a snap decision as I go out, picking up what I think is likely to be useful. Some devices get left sitting on the shelf, others get a lot of action.

It’s not scientific, but it means I can quickly learn which tools work and which don’t. Useful stuff gets used, less useful kit collects dust.

For most of the past six months, the iPhone 5S was my first choice phone. That speaks volumes.

Apple’s walled garden is close to Eden

That’s the biblical Eden, not the suburb where the All Blacks play Rugby. Microsoft, Google and Apple all offer walled gardens, they are pleasant places to spend your time and moving around inside the garden is easy. For most of the last six months I’ve lived in Apple’s cosy garden, the walls might be slightly higher than the alternative and the entry fee is a little more expensive, but, my word, it makes work much more productive.

The whole thing was close to Nirvana when Microsoft released the iPad Office apps. True, I can count the times I used Word from my iPhone on my fingers, but each of them saved a huge amount of effort or pain.

Lovely, however, I’m not buying one

While the iPhone 5S was my first choice for most of the past six months, it wasn’t numero uno all the time..

Until two months ago my plan was to tell Apple I’ll buy the review phone when it was time to return the device. Then I started getting distorted vision in my right eye. My left eye is weaker than my right eye. I have a medical condition called macular degeneration. The downside is that, for now, I can’t read small text. And that, sadly, is why the iPhone 5S and I must part.

Last November I was delighted by the four inch iPhone 5S Retina — there’s irony in that word — screen. Today I can barely read it. Few apps offer larger text sizes, even fewer websites display large text. There’s an access feature, so I can tap the phone to magnify the display, but scrolling is awkward and clunky.

Android phones are no better although giant screen models might work for me.

In contrast — more irony there — I can easily read text on my, now ageing, Nokia Lumia 920. The screen is only fractionally larger, but Windows Phone 8 displays text more crisply, does a better job of enlarging print and has high contrast, essential for my eyes at the moment.

Looking for the next iPhone

Presumably Apple will deliver a new iPhone later this year. I prefer to steer away from writing speculative stories about forthcoming products, but those rumours about a larger screen iPhone are suddenly a big deal. Hopefully doctors will fix my eyes by the time the next iPhone arrives, if not, I’m looking for something that’s five inches or bigger.

A less expensive option is the iPhone 5c.