Why my iPhone 5s is great for travel

new phoneThe last time I bought a new phone it was stolen less than week later. That was two and a half years ago. While my replacement iPhone 4 did well for a long time, by the end it was a sad mess. The button didn’t work, and I had to restart it multiple times a day. I was so excited to receive my iPhone 5s in the mail! It was so shiny and new and functional! Of course, I like more about it than the fact that the button works. There are several features from the new iPhone itself and iOS7 that are great for travel, and here are my favorites.

It’s just better. The screen is bigger, it’s lighter, and the processor is way faster. Also, the camera is freaking awesome. I love how fast it takes pictures, and they turn out much better than with my old phone.

Spoken, turn by turn directions. Like many business travelers, I have long used my phone’s map app for driving directions rather than getting a GPS with my unit. It’s not always a great replacement, especially when there are lots of turns. However, the redesigned map and verbal directions make driving to an unfamiliar location much less stressful. I will never need to rent a Manila packing listGPS again!

Dictation. You can dictate emails, texts, and notes, which makes multi-tasking easier than ever. Now you can make your packing list, write an email, or text your spouse while driving or walking. It’s super helpful, although punctuation is not perfect. Here is the packing list I wrote while driving a few weeks ago as an example. Still saved me a bunch of time though.

Siri. I know Siri is not new with this phone or OS, but she is new to me, and I love her! Siri will read your texts, look stuff up, and just in general help make things easier.

Touch ID. Not everyone is a fan of the fingerprint scanner, but I really like it. It’s faster than typing in a code, with less margin for error. Plus it’s just so darn cool.

I got the silver version, but I honestly don’t see the big deal about what color the phone is. This is because I have a case protecting it, as everyone should. You can’t even see my phone color! Also, I am seriously annoyed by the change in the size of the charger cable. We have had iPhones, iPods, and iPads for close to five years, which means we have a ton of chargers. They are conveniently in every room in our house, our cars, and each of my suitcases. But now I have to start over! Argh. It’s worth it, but I’m still annoyed. Overall, though, I love this phone and I appreciate the little ways it makes my travel life easier.

Readers, anyone else have the new iPhone 5s? Do you love it? What other phones are great for travel?


  1. Are you struggling for material to include on this blog? This article is more of a lazy review of the iphone than an article on travel. The features you mention are only tangentially related to travel and are more just general things you like about the phone. Also, most of what you mention has little to do with the 5C and are software features that are available on any phone with iOS7.

    Also what the heck did you do to your iphone 4 to beat it up so much. I’ve had a 4S for over 2 years and it running like the first day I got it. I hardly treat it with kid gloves. Do you just throw your phone around willy nilly?

  2. I got mine the first day, upgrading from 5 to 5S, plus the fact that I had to turn in the 5 as I was transitioning jobs. The 5S is slightly faster and a bit heavier, but I like the touch ID as well – as long as it was programmed correctly in the first place.

    Also, the 5 has the Airdrop feature, which is not available on the 4. Try it out sometime.

  3. Are you locked into a contract? Is the phone itself unlocked? What will the total cost of the phone be after the contract is fulfilled?

    I decided awhile back to only get unlocked phones and to buy outright, which for me meant ditching iPhones and moving to the Nexus line. Currently on a Nexus 4, planning on upgrading to a Nexus 5.

  4. @Hua good questions. I do have a contract, but it’s through my company. They get group pricing so I’m honestly not sure what the total cost including plan will be. I’ve heard good things about the Nexus line. Do you like it?

  5. I have the 5c. I had the i4 before that which did well for a while but I got buyers remorse after seeing how great Siri was. The 5c doesn’t have the Touch ID and is supposed to be a little slower than 5s, but it’s an awesome replacement for the i4. Oh and being able to dictate texts is a huge time saver and is surprisingly accurate.

  6. My contract was up last month and I although I did like my iPhone 4, the iOS7 upgrade just killed any aspiration to stay with Apple. Bought a Nexus 5 unlocked and it is really amazing, at a fraction of what an Apple contract would cost me.

  7. I do like the Nexus line… I had a lesser Android handset before which was unlocked (which made for ease of use and cost savings while overseas) but it was certainly not as smooth as my iPhone 4S or my Nexus 4.

    With the Nexus (and other pure Google experience devices) the elegance and ease of Android is now about on par with iOS — and the flexibility of having a reasonably priced unlocked device is significant, especially with the ability to pop in a local SIM in most countries.

  8. lol such low-hanging fruit to say that an already-hugely-popular $800 is GOOD.
    how about doing some research & learning that there a other phones that are compatible with more international frequencies than the 5S… you know, could be important for travel.

  9. iPhone is probably the worst for travel. When I was down in Australia a couple of years ago I had the unlocked Galaxy Nexus. When I landed in Sydney I bought a Vodafone local sim for $30 popped it in and I had cheap practically unlimited 4g data. The plan included 400 minutes to the USA, unlimited facebook and youtube along with 500 megs a day of data. My buddy had the iPhone 4 locked to ATT and was getting online via my Galaxy Nexus mobile hotspot. I was able to use google maps and the native navigation to guide me from the train station to my friend’s apartment with perfect precision. That would be local metro train chain station instructions as well as walking instructions! I just upgraded to the Nexus 5 and it is a beast. Only $399 unlocked for the 32 gb model and has support worldwide LTE and HSPA+ data along the best mobile CPU money can buy right now. Between the much higher resolution and size, the screen blows any iPhone away. The keyboards are changeable so if you don’t like the stock one, which most people do like, you can download one and install from the Google play store. That’s a mind blowing concept for most iPhone users because they have always been stuck on a crappy keyboard with no other options. I hated going through itunes if I wanted to backup or put something onto the iPhone. With the Nexus 5 you just plug it into your computer and drag and drop any file into the folder just like a USB drive! Fast and easy. This year I went back to the iPhone 5 running iOS 6 for a month just to switch it up and man was it a step back in time. So many things on the iPhone are so difficult to do. Say you just took a picture of the Sydney opera house and wanted to share it. On the Android phone it is simple. After you take the picture tap the share icon and it will bring up every single app the picture can be shared with such as Whatsapp. You tap the Whatsapp icon it brings up your chats tap the person and you are finished. With the iPhone I would have to take the picture, back out to the home screen, find the whatsapp app find the contact then find the picture and then hit send. Very counterintuitive. Same deal with the iPhone mail app. Maybe I am just missing it, but once you start typing an email on the iphone and decide to attach something good luck. You have to select the whole email, copy, back out to the home screen, open up the gallery app find the picture open the picture hit the mail button, paste the original email before continue. God help you if you decide to attach another picture. Attaching other files such as PDF or MP3? Forget it not happening with the iPhone. With Android just hit the menu button and tap attach file. Wow what a ground breaking concept! The base model unlocked Nexus 5 is 16gb for $349 compared with iPhone 5s $649. The 32 gb Nexus 5 is $399 vs $749 iPhone 5s. Notice you can just about buy two Nexus 5’s for the price of one iPhone. Pretty compelling value proposition if say you are a couple and plan on traveling overseas. Even when you get back the phone is a very competent daily driver. You get updates fast on the phone because it is updated by Google not Samsung or HTC. Bewteen the awesome CPU and all of the software optimizations Google has made, the phone is super smooth no ridiculous animations like iOS 7 where you feel like everything is flying around and you have to wait for that to finish before you can continue. Really? I have to wait for the animations to finish? With Android, the animations are quick, smooth and to the point. I got the 32gb because $50 for double the storage? Why not.

  10. Basically everything you listed except for the Touch ID was already on the iPhone 5 which most people have had for over a year now. It seems like you’re really reaching for material here and you didn’t really tie anything about it back to travel. I come to a boarding area blog to read about relevant travel topics, not an EXTREMELY basic review of an apple phone, of which there are plenty already.

  11. In the defense of the iphone, if you use a mac, the iphone can’t be beat for seamless integration. Since this is a travel blog thought I’d mention my favorite travel apps.
    Tripit – keeps all my travel reservations, etc. in one place. Next would be Flighttracker for flight updates. Although not an app – Twitter – for keeping up to date with airline announcements. For recreational travel, I like the Rick Steves audioguides. So for all the “grumpy gus’s out there” what are your favorite travel apps?

  12. Not much of a fan of iPHONE/iPADs bec they are way overpriced compared to similarly featured Android phones including the accessories and flexibility at a lower price point.

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