Ben Kweller Reviews The iPhone 5

Posted October 1

If you’re an Apple fanboy of any sort, you’ve probably read myriad reviews at this point about the newly released iPhone 5 — weighing the pros (it’s lighter!) against the cons (Maps is about as accurate as your sloppy drunk friend), agonizing over whether or not to update. You’ve probably turned to friends who have already made the plunge, pumping them for info on the new device. Well, here’s another voice to add to the din: that of singer Ben Kweller, who was one of the many to wait in line for Apple’s newest shiny-shiny. Look at him above! With all of his new line-waiting friends!

Read Kweller’s thoughts on the device below, and before you start asking why this guy is qualified to offer up his POV on “the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone,” chew on this: Dude went months without a phone waiting for its glorious release. That’s dedication.

So is this the first time you’ve waited in line for an Apple product?

I have waited in line once before, when the very first iPhone came out. And then I didn’t wait in line again. But about a month ago — I had an iPhone 4 — I went to Kansas City and my phone got stolen! Luckily it was password-protected and everything was backed up. But basically I went without a phone for months because I knew the new one was coming out and I was eligible for an upgrade. I could have gotten an iPhone 4 again, but I was like, ‘I guess I’ll just rough it and just wait for whatever this new phone is going to be.’

Which model did you get?

The 64GB one — because I use it so much for the voice recorder. I have this voice recorder called Fire and that’s like the first button on my homescreen.

I’m always singing little melodies and lyrical ideas and stuff into that. So that’s kind of like the biggest space taker, because I’m always filling it with these memos. The big reason I love the iPhone is that especially now with iCloud, everything is always sync’d up. Even when I lost my phone, I didn’t lose any of the music that I was working on.

So you must be pretty excited about the fact that the phone has three microphones. Do you use the recordings on your phone on albums at all?

It’s more just for the songwriting process. It’s kind of funny; I go backwards in time technologically in my whole process. I start out — say I don’t even have a song — I start out writing a song with an iPhone 5, which I guess is the most technologically advanced mobile device there is; and then I go and do a demo on a computer, which is a few years back in technology; and then when it’s time to make the real recording, I use a tape machine from the ’80s. So, it’s kind of this real backwards way of working, but I’ve always recorded on tape when I’m making records, because that’s what I started out on in the late ’90s.

So what’s the biggest difference between the iPhone 4 and the 5?

I really like a lot of the features really. I would say that probably the best improvement is the speed. It’s a lot faster. The Internet speed, I guess they call it LTE. I did a speed test with a friend of mine — we totally geeked out — with the older phone and this one. We went to and the 4G was getting like 24 megabits per second, which is extremely fast. It’s actually faster than the Internet out of my house. So that’s been pretty impressive.

Which features have you been digging, in particular?

I really love Siri, I’ve been really putting her to the test and asking for random stuff and directions. You can just tell her reminders and stuff to add to the to-do list. That’s been pretty impressive — the voice recognition.

And then the Maps feature. I guess a lot of people have been complaining about Maps, but it’s been great for me so far. I just had a gig way out in West Texas in Marfa, Texas — this festival out there — and then we drove to Utopia, Texas, for another festival that I was doing with Dr. Dog. Those are both really remote parts of Texas. The GPS worked really well.

It worked? You didn’t end up somewhere crazy? I heard that some Maps directions were kind of dangerous.

Oh my God! I didn’t hear that it was dangerous! Seriously, I could have ended up in Oklahoma! Yeah, it all worked out.

So if you were making a Ben Kweller app for the iPhone 5, what aspects would you want to take advantage of?

I think I would like to use geo-tracking and photo uploads from fans. You could click on an event and take a photo of the stage and it would go to the website — or to the mobile app or whatever. So it would collect different fan moments from around the venue — at the merch booth, the bar, the stage, the back alley of the club — and everything would be organized. That would be fun.

I know a lot of people were disappointed with the new phone. Do you feel the same way?

I came at it from such a different perspective, you know, because I hadn’t had a phone at all for months. So anything would have been an upgrade.

Image courtesy of Instagram, Ben Kweller