iPhone 5s – Review

5 minute read

Introduction

The iPhone 5s is upon us. Nothing on the outside has changed dramatically compared to the 5 (as is usual with the “s” models) apart from the Home button which I talk about shortly. The 5s is available in three colours, white with a silver trim, space grey (which replaces the black colour) and finally, white with a gold trim. It still comes in 16, 32 or 64GB’s of storage and prices are as follows: £549.99 for a 16GB, £629.00 for a 32GB and a whopping £709.00 for a 64GB version.

The chip in the 5s is an A7 and believe it or not, it’s about 2x faster than the the A6 chip that was used in the iPhone 5. The A7 chip is 64-bit, a world’s first for the smartphone. Performance tests carried out show us that the 5s is the fastest phone on the market by a long shot, the 5s scores around 1410 for Single-Core and 2560 for Multi-Core using Geekbench. If we compare this to what the iPhone 5s is up against at the moment, the HTC One scores around 590 for Single-Core and 1500 for Multi-Core while the S4 scores around 670 for Single-Core and 1860 for Multi-Core. The iPhone 5s does however still have 1GB of RAM which, in this day and age isn’t a lot but don’t let that put you off, the iPhone 5s is very fast in performance.

Hardware – Touch ID

Let’s talk about the Home button as its undergone major surgery. The iPhone 5s now has a fingerprint sensor underneath and it’s very impressive. The Touch ID sensor is only 170 microns thin, that’s not much thicker than a human hair. The Home button is now made from sapphire crystal so it’s a lot more difficult to scratch. The button sounds a little louder when it’s clicked but that’s not an issue, you soon get used to it. You’ll be asked to set up Touch ID when you go though the setting-up process when you turn the iPhone on. You can skip and set it up later if you wish. To set up Touch ID, you simply place your thumb or finger on the Home button and remove it, you’ll be asked to do this multiple times while it reads the fine details of your fingerprint, I’d recommended setting it up so it can read both thumbs. It will take a minute to setup and the results are amazing.

When you want to unlock your device all you need to do is place your finger on Home button and it will read it almost instantly, it’s exceptional. Touch ID is capable of reading multiple prints and can read fingerprints at 360-degrees which means it doesn’t matter how your fingerprint is placed on the Home button, it will still read it. It’s also great fun. I found myself locking my iPhone deliberately over and over just to use Touch ID when I first got the phone! A passcode is mandatory as it’s needed for the following conditions: when you restart the iPhone, when more than 48 hours has passed from the last time you unlocked your iPhone and when entering the Touch ID & Passcode setting. You may also be asked for your password when buying apps and media on occasions to “renew Touch ID purchases.” Using Touch ID is a swift process and is so much faster than inserting your four-digit passcode or, if you have it set up, a more complex password.

Something I must add, and although it’s not very nice, Touch ID has been built so that a live fingerprint has to be applied otherwise it won’t work. Touch ID can also be used purchase applications and media from the App Store and the iTunes Store which is a big plus if you happen to have a long and complex Apple ID password. I must also point out that Touch ID doesn’t store your fingerprints. They aren’t stored on the device, they aren’t stored within iCloud and they aren’t even stored on Apple servers, it’s all local. The Home button has a flatter design and no longer has the familiar squircle icon seen on previous models. Finally, Touch ID is paired to each A7 chip in the iPhone 5s. This results in tighter security as someone can’t simply switch the Touch ID sensor with another 5s, it simply won’t work.

Hardware – Camera

Next, the camera. Apple have stuck with an 8-megapixel iSight camera but have improved the aperture, it’s now f/2.2. Apple are adamant that megapixels in a camera isn’t everything, it’s the lens. The camera has two LED’s, one amber and one white. Both work together to create the best photo. The lens are variably used based on the colour temperature of the photo. Apple have marketed this as True Tone flash. The rear iSight camera is intelligent, it does its magic and as a result you get sensational photos. 1080p HD video recording is also supported.

Capturing video in slow motion has also been added which records at 120 frames-per-second. There is also a burst mode. You can simply hold the capture button and it will take an impressive 10 pictures per second. You can then select the favourites manually or the phone will pick for you and you can delete the rest as you don’t want hundreds of photos building up in your Photo Stream. On the front, the camera remains the same as the iPhone 5. You get a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera that can record at 30 frames-per-second and capture in 720p HD.

Design

This will be a small section as not a lot has changed when comparing the 5s to the 5. The build quality, as always, is second to none and especially in the colour, space grey, looks amazing. You still have the two volume buttons on the side of the phone as well as the switch for loud/silent. The black iPhone 5 was anodised and was very easy to chip and scratch, this isn’t going to be as much as an issue for the space grey model. The iPhone 5s weighs 112 grams considering the bigger battery which is now 1560mAh compared to the 1440mAh you got in the iPhone 5. Despite the bigger battery however and to compensate for Touch ID and camera improvements, the maximum you’ll get out of the phone is around 24 hours. This obviously depends on usage.

Connectivity/LTE/NFC

4G frequencies are now supported on the iPhone 5s, therefore, unlike with the iPhone 5, networks such as O2, EE, Vodafone and Three will work with the 5s and allow 4G connectivity. Unfortunately, the iPhone 5s doesn’t support NFC (Near Field Communication), we may have to wait another year for that.

My Opinion

The iPhone 5s is the most powerful “s” upgrade yet, the A7 chip with the M7 chip as its sidekick work well together and as a result, it’s the most powerful phone on the market, period. The camera is brilliant and takes better pictures that the iPhone 5 as the camera on the 5s allows more light in resulting in brighter and more colourful pictures overall. As always with Apple, as I’ve already mentioned, the handset’s build quality is just fantastic. It’s by far the best-looking phone I’ve ever seen.

Conclusion

The 5s is just fantastic. The iPhone 5s and iOS 7 work together in harmony and the camera can take amazing pictures. The A7 64-bit chip may not be as useful yet but Apple are playing the long game here. Touch ID, in my opinion, is the best feature about the 5s, it can read your fingerprint in seconds and is easy, and fun might I add, to first setup. It’s also great that we can now use the more popular mobile networks to connect to 4G. iPhone 5s may not be “the most amazing iPhone yet” but it’s certainly the most “forward-thinking” iPhone yet.