Using an iPhone 5s for a Day

Using an iPhone 5s for a Day

Apple?s last truly small phone design.

iPhone 5s leaning on rock chimney.iPhone 5s

Since working from home, I have been trying new things to help keep me focused. Now that I don?t have coworkers or management looking over my shoulder, it has been much easier to pick up my phone and zone out. What motivated me to try and change my habit was my screen time average going up to 21% a couple of weeks ago.

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I have been better this week, though I haven?t seen my new screen time average yet, mostly because my workload has increased, but when this isn?t the case, I am still trying to find ways to reduce my screen usage.

With the release of the new iPhone SE this week, I thought not only would using a small 4-inch iPhone be a good way of trying to reduce my usage but also a nice tribute to the now discontinued line of Apple?s ?small? iPhones. Now that the SE is a 4.7-inch screen, a variant of the iPhone 8 casing, the 4-inch iPhone 5 casing is now another great design that Apple will no longer use.

Instead of using an original SE for this experience, since I no longer have one, I used an iPhone 5s. Which to be honest was probably not the best device to use. The iPhone 5s can only support iOS 12, and even with the latest OS, it is slow, and battery life is awful.

Because the phone is so old it brought along a lot of obvious negatives, like slow performance and battery life issues, it isn?t fair to compare this to an iPhone 11 Pro, or any newer model of iPhone since the 5S, spec by spec. Instead, what I wanted to do was compare the size of the iPhone 5s to today?s standard iPhones sizes.

The 4-inch screen feels like an ancient relic now with base model iPhones and Android phones starting at over 4.7 to 5 inches in size. Though 5.8-inches on an iPhone 11 Pro compared to a 4-inch iPhone on paper doesn?t seem that significant. In the hand, the difference is shockingly noticeable and is why I wanted to try it out for a day.

When I am not watching House or scrolling through Twitter on my iPhone, what I am doing most on any device is reading. Whether that is a blog post (found on Twitter or RSS), Medium, or a Kindle book, I am constantly consuming text. When reading on the iPhone 5s, I didn?t feel like I lost too much. Maybe if I came from an 11 Pro Max, the difference would have been more glaring, but it honestly didn?t phase me too much.

iPhone 11 Pro on the right and iPhone 5s on the left running the Twitter app.iPhone 11 Pro on the right and iPhone 5s on the left running the Twitter app.

The same goes for scrolling my favorite infinity pool, Twitter. The loss of screen real estate didn?t seem noticeable until I tried watching YouTube or Prime Video. The tiny videos did seem a bit small, and it was hard to see the detailed sections of a Gameboy Advance Mod or see something Dr. House was slipping into Wilson?s coffee.

Though it was noticeable smaller, I didn?t feel like it was that bad. Which was defeating the purpose of my thinking a smaller phone was going to help in preventing me from picking it up so often. The lack of size alone, I feel it is not enough to help in using a device too much. It takes your self-will and motivation to prevent wasting time on your phone when you would prefer to do other things.

iPhone 11 Pro on the right and iPhone 5s on the left running the Twitter app.iPhone 11 Pro on the right and iPhone 5s on the left running the YouTube app.

One thing I did notice is how much I didn?t like the size of the iPhone 5s anymore. I haven?t used a 4-inch phone in a while, but after picking up my iPhone 11 Pro to put the SIM card back in, it was refreshing to be back to Apple?s default sized phone.

A big thing that I didn?t expect in using the iPhone 5s was not caring so much about losing OLED. Apple has always been good at displays, and this 6+-year-old display is pretty outstanding.

iPhone 11 Pro on the right and iPhone 5s on the left showing the homescreen.iPhone 11 Pro on the right and iPhone 5s on the left showing the homescreen.

It is funny how much we get used to a certain sized screen after using it for a while. The iPhone 11 Pro (and the X and XS before it) introduced an even larger sized standard, 5.8-inches, increasing from the 4.7-inch change before it. I thought I was always going to be frustrated with the growing sized phone being squeezed more and more in the pocket of my skinny jeans.

Not only have I accepted that this is the direction Apple will continue to go, but I have also embraced it. I am still not ready to go to the Max variants, but I do know that regardless of the size, healthy usage of any device isn?t dependent on the size of the screen but dependent on me.

  1. You can argue 4.7-inch is the new default size for iPhones since this is what the new SE has but for Apple?s flagship the 5.8-inch on the iPhone 11 Pro feels more like their default size.
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