On My Visit to the Apple Store

I went to my local Apple Store yesterday afternoon to check out all the new products Apple’s put out over the last several weeks. (I even did a little shopping too.) With this piece, I wanted to share my thoughts on said products after my brief hands-on time with them.

iPad Mini

As terribly cliche as this sounds, you really have to get your hands on one to appreciate it.

The hardware design really is stunning: you immediately feel the thinness and weight loss relative to a full-sized iPad. When I first picked it up, the thing almost felt hollow and unsubstantial, even though the thing is made out of aluminum and glass. The engineering is amazing, having built something so thin and so light yet so robust. As for the display, it was fine. It felt like a real iPad. I definitely noticed the pixels and jaggedness of text in iBooks. It’s not terrible by any means, but as someone whose eyes are so accustomed to Retina-quality displays, the iPad Mini’s looks decidedly worse. Your mileage my vary, but though I love its form factor, that the iPad Mini is so slim and light isn’t enough for me to buy one. My ideal iPad Mini is one with a Retina display1, but that product doesn’t exist today. Still, the iPad Mini is mighty impressive. The 50 or so people crowded at the tables around me shared my enthusiasm, and more than a few asked to buy one right away.

iPhone 5

After what seemed like forever, I finally got a chance to see the iPhone 5 up close and spend some time with it. As with the iPad Mini, what I noticed straight off was the thinness and lightness of the phone. It’s incredible. After holding the 5 for about 10–15 minutes, going back to my 4S felt odd. It felt heavy and bulky and “old”, if you know what I mean. The build quality is great, as usual, and I’m glad Apple went back to aluminum this year. The 5 felt much more durable, more substantial, whereas the 4S feels fragile due to all the glass. The display is great; I had no trouble moving my thumb around the corners. More importantly, though, the 4-inch screen is awesome for a visually impaired person like myself. So much easier to see everything.

Of note, the color choices really struck me. Initially, I’d been planning on getting the “black and slate” model, as I my 4S is white and the black 5 looks so stunning in the pictures I’ve seen. It’s even beter in person, but I have to say I was very impressed by the “white and silver” model. It is really beautiful, very classy, and the diamond-cut chamfered edges really shine. In fact, the white 5 is so appealing to me that it’s making me reconsider my choice for 2013’s 5S.2

The iPods: Nano & Shuffle

I played with the new iPod Nano and Shuffle too. Not much to report, other than say that I seriously don’t think either device could get any smaller. The Shuffle, in particular, seems even too small for its own good. As for the Nano, it’s nice and all, but it felt anachronistic using it. I can’t see its place in people’s lives; in other words, why choose a Nano over, say, a Touch? The Nano’s OS feels like some black market knock-off of iOS. You still have to hard-wire the thing to iTunes to sync media. Again, the hardware is nice and well-engineered, but overall I came away unimpressed by the Nano.

EasyPay & EarPods

I bought a pair of EarPods using the EasyPay feature in the Apple Store app. It was my first time doing so, and it was dead simple. I scanned the barcode, confirmed my purchase with a couple taps, and was on my way. The receipt was emailed to me almost instantaneously. As for the EarPods, they’re very nice. They fit comfortably in my ears, and the sound quality is exponentially better than the stock headphones Apple gives you. Well worth the $29, in my opinion.

  1. And with cellular connectivity. I won’t buy an iPad without it.  ↩

  2. AT&T says I’m not eligible for a full upgrade until May. By then, it’d be better for me to wait a few more months for the new phone.  ↩