Apple iPhone 5s Review – Revolution or Let Down?There’s nothing quite like the anticipation that comes before an Apple product launch, and this year was no different, with the long-awaited arrival of the iPhone 5s, alongside the cut-price 5s.
Last week, we finally got our hands on the new iPhone 5s – but was it the handset we were hoping for? Our review team gives you their thoughts…
DesignBuild quality is as good as you’d expect from Apple, and the luxury look and premium feel of the handset still put it head and shoulders above the rest of the fieldAs we’ve come to expect from the Apple ‘S’ updates, very little has changed from the iPhone 5. The 5s features the same slim, lightweight design as its predecessor, with smooth metal edges and back plate, and a shiny, polished finish.
Build quality is as good as you’d expect from Apple, and the luxury look and premium feel of the handset still put it head and shoulders above the rest of the field, with only the HTC One providing any real competition.
Those expecting a bigger screen will be disappointed, as the 5s comes with the same 4 inch, 326ppi display as the 5. Whilst this still looks fantastic, it’s a lot smaller than the 5 inch displays found on comparable high-end Android models.
New features and upgrades
On the surface, things look very similar, but with the 5s, the difference really is in the details.
The home button has now been augmented to include a fingerprint scanner, which you can use to unlock the handset, and more impressively, to verify your identity for iTunes and App Store purchases. The scanning is pretty accurate, and it’s a neat feature that you’ll find yourself using more than you think.
Camera wise, the 5s also boasts some small, but significant improvements. Whilst the camera itself is the same 8MP unit found on the 5, it has a brighter aperture and a bigger sensor, which help it to perform much better at night and in low light environments.
Although on paper, this 8MP doesn’t stand up to other smartphones (like the 41MP camera in the latest Nokia Lumia), don’t be put off by the stats – it still takes fantastic photographs for a smart phone.
Battery life feels a little bit better than the 5, but we reckon that most users will still need to charge it daily.
The iPhone 5s really starts to shine when you take a look under the bonnet. Inside, it boasts Apple’s new A7 processor, which is a dual-core 64 bit behemoth backed up by 1GB of RAM.
To put things in perspective, this makes the 5S nearly twice as powerful as the 5. In practical terms, there aren’t any current apps or games that will challenge the 5s, and even graphics hungry titles run smoothly on the platform. It also makes the handset great at multitasking, and enables incredibly fast browsing for a mobile device.
Whilst there are more powerful quad core Android handsets available, the iPhone 5s has more than enough to compete. This additional power will open up new possibilities for app and games developers, and we expect them to start taking advantage of it in the coming months.
The 5s comes with Apple’s latest operating system, IOS 7, ready installed, and whilst it isn’t exclusive to the 5S (you can install it on your iPhone 4 if you want, but performance will be shaky!), it’s definitely worthy of a mention.
The biggest departure from previous versions of the OS is in its overall look and feel. Whilst the layout is broadly the same, the icons have lost their 3D-effects, and been replaced with a flatter, more colourful interface.
Whilst the changes are bound to split opinion, we like the new look, which provides a welcome update from previous versions, and takes some of the best bit from the Android OS.
When it comes to functionality, there have been some improvements, including the ability to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the control centre, meaning you won’t need to navigate to the phone settings as much. Folders have also been improved, so you can organise your desktop by storing many more apps in each of them.
Overall, IOS 7 is simple, elegant, logical and easy to use, and well worth upgrading to if you’ve got an iPhone 4S or later.
So should you buy it?
Honestly, that depends on the phone you’ve got at the moment.
If you’ve already got an iPhone 5, then we reckon you should probably stick with it for now. The design is the same, and whilst the 5s boasts a big power increase and a slightly better camera, it isn’t enough to justify the cost of upgrading in our book.
The iPhone 5 is powerful enough to run iOS 7 just as smoothly as a 5s, and will be perfectly capable of running any applications or software launched over the next year – we reckon you should hold out for the iPhone 6.
However, if you’re still running a 4S or 4, then it’s definitely worth a look. The iPhone 4 seriously struggles when running IOS 7, and whilst the 4S can handle it, there are enough new features on the 5s for it be a serious upgrade. You’ll certainly notice the speed difference, slimmer design and better camera.
If you’re an Android fanboy, there’s little here that’s going to persuade you to switch sides. Whist the new IOS 7 takes more than a few elements from the Android operating system, screen size and even camera quality are still some way behind the top-end Android handsets.
Whilst you couldn’t really call the iPhone 5s a revolution, it isn’t a let down either. New feature and spec wise, it’s about what we’ve come to expect from an ‘S’ upgrade.
There’s a lot to like about the 5s, and whilst there isn’t quite enough to recommend buying one if you’ve already got a 5, it’s still a fantastic smart phone, and enough to keep Apple at the top of the smartphone pecking order – for now at least…
The iPhone 5s is available now, worldwide – if you’d like to get your hands on a Free iPhone 5s head over to Xpango and trade in your credits today.