First iOS 7, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s reviews hit the web

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Right after its big iPhone event last Tuesday, Apple gave a select group of journalists early access to the final build of iOS 7, along with its two new handsets: the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s.

The move is a familiar one for the company, who typically gives out products for analysis ahead of launch. And tonight, right on schedule, the embargo lifted on this week’s round of reviews…

As usual, we’ve put together a roundup of excerpts from a number of the just-released reviews in an attempt to paint a picture of what the general consensus is towards Apple’s new products.

iOS 7

Since iOS 7 will be making its way to millions of devices tomorrow, we figured we better start here. It’s the biggest update to iOS since its inception, and has thus far received polarizing feedback.

David Pogue for The New York Times:

“The look of iOS 7 may grab you or not. But once the fuss about the visuals dies down, something even more important comes into focus: the work that’s been done on making iOS better. The longer you spend with the new OS, the more you’re grateful for the fixing and de-annoyifying on display.

For example, you no longer have to burrow into infinitely nested Settings screens to adjust your control panels. Now you can just speak what you want, using Siri: “Open Wi-Fi settings,” for example, or “Open brightness settings.”

Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD:

“Then there’s the new operating system on this phone, called iOS 7. Its new look, new user interface and new functions represent the biggest overhaul to the iPhone’s core software since the original model launched in 2007. Nearly everything has been improved, including multi-tasking, notifications, access to common controls, email, Web browsing and Siri. Like any big change, it’s a shock at first, but I have come to like it and consider it a step forward, despite a few issues. “

And Jim Dalrymple of The Loop:

“iOS 7 isn’t a big change functionally from what we’re all used to with iOS 6. Apple kept most of things we know about how to use the operating system and integrated them with the design.

Of course, that is the big change with the new iOS—the look and feel are newer, some would say flatter. While we were all a bit shocked with the look when it was first introduced, it doesn’t take long to adapt. In fact, there are many things I like better.”

iPhone 5c

The iPhone 5c represents a bold new strategy for Apple. It’s plastic, it’s less expensive than the 5s, and it comes in an array of bright colors. Many pundits, though, are skeptical it will succeed.

Edward C. Baig of USA Today:

“f that second new model, the iPhone 5c may have a cheap price, relatively speaking, but there is nothing cheap about the phone. Plastic be damned — the phone feels good in the hand. Apple says it is built around a steel frame that doubles as an antenna. And, yes, the color designs — my test unit is blue — look cool, too, complemented by matching wallpaper.”

Scott Stein for CNET:

“A brightly colored plastic iPhone: it sounds like something new, doesn’t it? Not exactly: Apple’s had brightly colored iPods for years, and the iPod Touch got its multicolored refresh in 2012. The iPhone 5C just feels like the extension of that bright-color philosophy into the iPhone line.

It doesn’t feel like cheap plastic, though; the smooth, shiny polycarbonate shell around the back feels like a candy lacquer coating. It’s a dense device, heavier than the iPhone 5 by nearly an ounce, but it has a comfortable feel — maybe even better than the more hard-angled metal iPhone 5/5S.”

And Myriam Joire of Engadget:

“We’re not going to lie. The iPhone 5c is gorgeous – we’d even argue that it’s the most beautiful iPhone since the 4 and 4s. It instantly makes the iPhone 5 and 5s look staid in comparison.

Sure, we prefer materials like aluminum and glass over plastic, and we appreciate the intricate craftsmanship that goes into building the iPhone 5 and 5s, but still, we can’t help it – the 5c just triggers some reptilian part of our brains that screams, “OMG, color!”

iPhone 5s

The iPhone 5s is exactly what you’d expect from Apple on an s-model year. It looks the same as its predecessor, and has a number of new features and improvements tucked underneath its surface.

David Pogue of The New York Times:

“The most heavily promoted feature is the 5S’s fingerprint sensor, which, ingeniously, is built into the Home button. You push the Home button to wake the phone, leave your finger there another half second, and boom: you’ve unlocked a phone that nobody else can unlock, without the hassle of inputting the password. (And yes, a password is a hassle; half of smartphone users never bother setting one up.)

The best part is that it actually works — every single time, in my tests. It’s nothing like the balky, infuriating fingerprint-reader efforts of earlier cellphones. It’s genuinely awesome; the haters can go jump off a pier.”

Anand Lal Shimpi from AnandTech:

“At the end of the day, if you prefer iOS for your smartphone – the iPhone 5s won’t disappoint. In many ways it’s an evolutionary improvement over the iPhone 5, but in others it is a significant step forward. What Apple’s silicon teams have been doing for these past couple of years has really started to pay off. From a CPU and GPU standpoint, the 5s is probably the most futureproof of any iPhone ever launched. As much as it pains me to use the word futureproof, if you are one of those people who likes to hold onto their device for a while – the 5s is as good a starting point as any.”

And Jim Dalrymple of The Loop:

“Setting up a fingerprint is as easy as resting your finger on the Home button and following the onscreen instructions. The button will vibrate when it’s reading; lift your finger and rest it on the button again; and repeat until it’s done. Very simple.

Speed increases are something we expect with new Apple products, but the iPhone 5s goes above and beyond expectations. In addition to the faster processor, the iPhone 5s is also the world’s first 64-bit phone. These changes make the 5s up to twice as fast as the iPhone 5—that’s a significant increase.”

So there you have it. Overall, reviews have been fairly positive for iOS 7, as well as both the iPhone 5c and 5s. But what is really going to matter is what consumers think of the new software/devices.

The iPhone 5c is available for pre-order now, and will be available in-stores this Friday alongside the iPhone 5s. iOS 7 officially launches tomorrow.