- Editor's Rating
- Extremely fast and reliable performance
- Gorgeous display
- High-quality camera
- iOS 7
- Not enough of an upgrade from the iPhone 5 to justify the price
- Battery could be better
Quick TakeOverall, the iPhone 5s is an impressive piece of design from Apple that offers incredible performance and a host of new and innovative features.
The iPhone 5s is the newest member of Apple’s smartphone family. The iPhone 5s is a drastic step up from the previous generation iPhone 5, due partly to the fact that it ships with iOS 7.
Among other features, the iPhone 5s has a fingerprint scanner, 64-bit A7 chip and entirely new M7 coprocessor. The iPhone 5s is available in three different storage levels ranging from the 16GB iPhone 5s, which starts at $199 with a new two-year contract, to the 64GB model, priced at $399 with a two-year contract at the time of this review. The iPhone 5s is available on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and regional carriers.
Build & Design
The iPhone 5s looks almost identical to the iPhone 5 with the exception of a redesigned home button, which is where the fingerprint scanner is located. Users have the ability to add up to five different fingerprints into the software that will unlock the phone. Users can then simply place their finger on the home button to be read by the scanner and allow access to the device. A passcode can still also be used to access the phone. The fingerprint scanner can also be used to confirm purchases in the Apple App Store, as a substitute to typing in an Apple ID.
The 5s measures 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches and weighs 3.95 ounces. The smartphone feels light in hand, especially when compared to the blockier iPhone 4s. The 5s is made of an aluminum body, which is easy to grip and does not easily pick up fingerprints. The smartphone is available in three colors: silver, space grey and gold. The device feels strong and does not easily flex when moderate pressure is applied. TechnologyGuide accidentally dropped the handset from waist height a handful of times, and it still show no signs of abuse.
Apple has equipped the 5s with a 4-inch Retina display with 326 dpi resolution. The display is has a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating, which works well as fingerprints are not easily visible on the touchscreen surface. The display is extremely sharp and colors are crisp, if a bit oversaturated. Contrast is great and the display’s brightness is fantastic. TG typically kept the brightness at a medium level for day to day use, with no complaints. When brightness is turned all the way up, the display is easily viewable in bright outdoor lighting, but direct sunlight still resulted in some glare. The touch capabilities of the smartphone worked exceptionally well, as all gestures, including multi-finger gestures, were easily and correctly read.
Perhaps Apple’s biggest accomplishment with the release of the iPhone 5s is the A7 chip with 64-bit architecture. With the chip, Apple promises users desktop-class performance situated inside of their iPhone. What this means for most users is that the iPhone 5s is very fast.
The dual-core A7 can handle almost twice as much computing power as the iPhone 5’s A6 chip, and while most systems are not yet optimized for the A7’s architecture, the programs and basic games TG has run on the 5s have all functioned seamlessly. Apps open quickly and we experienced no lag or drop in performance. Streaming HD video content loads quickly and runs seamlessly. Users will find nothing to complain about when it comes to the 5s’ performance. In testing it ran flawlessly with very few crashes and almost nonexistent lag or delay.
The iPhone 5s ships with iOS 7, Apple’s completely redesigned user interface. The software comes equipped with many new features including a redesigned and much more functional Control Center and an overhauled and customizable notification center. Mail, iMessage, Siri and Safari have also been completely overhauled. For more on iOS 7, check out TG’s full review of Apples newest iteration of the mobile operating system.
The smartphone also comes equipped with a suite of the standard preloaded Apple Apps including Photos, Music, Notes, Reminders, Game Center and Weather among many others. Apple products function seamlessly with other Apple products so users that make use of iTunes, iCal, Mail and iPhoto, among other applications, will find a lot of use in the preloaded suite of Apple apps. Other users can cast those apps off in their own folder never to view them again.
Apple equipped the iPhone 5s with a lithium-ion battery rated for 10 hours of talk time and eight hours of Internet browsing on a 3G network. In stand-by mode the battery is rated for 250 hours. We were able to easily get a full day of battery life with medium use. It would have been nice to see even more improved battery life (two days, anyone?), especially considering the M7 coprocessor is supposed to drastically improve the battery life span.
It should be noted that the iPhone 5s uses the same Lightning prong to plug-in the charger as the iPhone 5. Earlier iPhone models used a 30-pin plug. Users who have various charging accessories like a car charger compatible with the 30-pin plug may want to invest in a lighting adapter, which Apple sells for $29 at the time of this review.
The rear-facing iSight camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 aperture and updated true tone flash. The new flash slightly changes the design of the smartphone as it’s situated slightly closer to the center of the device and features two bulbs. Various camera options are available including autofocus, tap to focus, face detection, panorama auto image stabilization, burst mode and photo geotagging. The rear-facing camera can record 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second with 3x zoom and slow motion video capability. The 5s is also equipped with a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera able to record 720p video. Overall camera quality is stellar with clear, crisp images with impressive detail and brightness. The flash works excellently in low-light situations.
Overall, the iPhone 5s is an impressive piece of design from Apple that offers incredible performance and a host of new and innovative features. The 5s is a big step up from the previous generation iPhone 5 and the fingerprint scanner, improved camera and flash, and A7 processor are welcome additions. Users currently holding on to a 4s or prior model who have an available upgrade will find few reasons not to move up to the iPhone 5s. iPhone 5 users may want to take a look at the price and features and decide if an upgrade is really worth it.