The popularity and limited supply of the new iPhone gold color (that I had to have) means my iPhone 5S review is a late follow up to my iPhone 5C review. I am glad it worked out this way, as I have a better idea of what the iPhone 5S offers users compared to last year’s iPhone 5 and this year’s iPhone 5C. Although I always prefer a complete hardware redesign over the ‘S’ upgrades, I appreciate the attention to detail Apple puts in under the hood in these ‘S’ upgrades. That being said, is it worth the upgrade coming from an iPhone 5?
• 4-inch Retina Display (1136×640) @326ppi
• A7 64-Bit Chip
• M7 Motion coprocessor
• 3G/4G LTE
• WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
• 8MP camera, f/2.2 aperture, 1.5 microns, Dual-LED flash
• 1080p Video recording, 30fps
• 1.2MP front facing FaceTime camera
• iOS 7 Operating System
• 10 HRS Talk Time, 250 HRS Standby
• 3 Colors – Silver, Space Gray, Gold
• 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Hardware and Design:
Build & Colors – Apple carried the same stunning design and feel of the iPhone 5 to this year’s iPhone 5S. The phone measures in at 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm (4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 in) and weighs 112 g (3.95 oz), which is identical to the iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5S did get a color upgrade, differentiating it from the iPhone 5S. Apple – for the first time – offers a third, gold color along with the new space gray and silver iPhone colors. The gold iPhone drew a lot media hype over the summer as many said it would be ugly and “un-Apple like.” In our office, we referred to this suspected gold color as “Mariott Marquee Gold” (no offense, Marriott), and we were happy to see Apple went with a Gazelle-preferred “champagne” gold. Months later the gold iPhone 5S is the best selling color and is still on backorder in several countries. Following the success of the gold iPhone 5S, both Samsung and HTC outed new gold colored Galaxy S4 and HTC One phones.
Screen – For all those hoping for a bigger screen this time around (myself included), you are out s!*t out of luck. I am not saying the screen on the iPhone 5S is bad, it is just 2 years old. The screen is an IPS LED-backlit LCD with a resolution of 640 x 1136 and 326 pixels-per-inch. The screen can also be found on last year’s iPhone 5 and the new iPhone 5C. The display provides accurate and crisp colors but for me 4-inches feels dwarfed in a world of 5-inch plus phablets.
Camera – The new 8MP iSight camera on the iPhone 5S produces the best shots compared to any other iPhone – and some Android phones – released to date. Apple has increased the sensor size by 15% meaning improved low-light photos. The new lens also has more aperture than the iPhone 5, increasing from F/2.4 to F/2.2. This allows 25% more light in to the frame. On the back of the device you will notice a new, longer LED flash. Apple placed a new True Tone dual-LED flash, which helps not only with low-light performance, but better accuracy in color reproduction. Under the hood, iOS 7 will bring some new features to the camera on the iPhone 5S as well. New effects such as Mono, Tonal, Noir, Fade, Chrome, Process, Transfer, and Instant are available on both the front and rear cameras.
Check out the complete specs on the new iSight camera below and the iPhone photo comparison below:
(iPhone photo shoot out – iPhone 5S vs. iPhone 5C vs. iPhone 5. The color accuracy on the new 5S is spot on)
Battery – Like the iPhone 5C, the battery on the iPhone 5S performed really well. I got a full day of moderate use (Facebook, email, Twitter, YouTube) without needing to recharge until later in the evening. The non-removable Li-Po 1560 mAh battery is slightly larger than the 1510 battery in the iPhone 5C. This battery supposedly offers over 250 hours of standby time with 10 hours of talk time and 40 hours of music play. Although the battery is bigger than last year iPhone 5 (1440mAh), the 64-bit chip does consume much more power.
Software & Features:
iOS 7 – At this point, iOS 7 has been adopted on most iOS devices. The new iOS 7 operating system from Apple provides users with a completely new look and feel. With an eye-catching, flat design, new color palette, and slick interface, iOS 7 is a marked improvement over previous iOS versions. iOS 7 brings new features such as Control Center, Activation Lock, Air Drop, and an improved Notification Center. Check out our complete review of iOS 7 for all the details on Apple’s new operating system.
Touch ID – The new fingerprint scanner from Apple is one of the best new novelty features on the iPhone 5S. This feature works by touching the home button and the sensor will take multiple 500ppi images of your fingerprint, to be processed by the A7 chip to get your iPhone 5S unlocked. The Touch ID sensor offers 360-degree readability, which provides very accurate reads of your fingerprint each and every time. Since I set this up, I have never had any problems with the reader. Using Touch ID on daily basis is much easier than typing in a PIN every time you want access your device. Touch ID can also be used for making purchases in the App Store and iTunes instead of using your Apple ID password.
A7 64-bit processor – Apple is the first company to put a 64-bit chip inside a smartphone. The new Samsung made A7 chip brings lightning fast speed and processing power to the iPhone 5S. According to Apple, it’s twice as fast as last years A6 chip in terms of both CPU and GPU power. The A7 chip is a 1.3GHz dual-core CPU dubbed Cyclone, which uses ARM’s ARMv8 micro-architecture. Apple was most likely thinking about future models when they decided to use a 64-bit chip. Why is this you ask? A 64-bit chip allows for more than 4GB of RAM to be used in a device.
Price and Availability:
The iPhone 5S starts at $199 on a 2-year contract for the 16GB model. The 32GB model will cost you $299 with a 2-year contract and $399 for the 64GB version. If you just want to grab the phone contract free or from T-Mobile, it will run you $649, $749 and $849 respectively. This is the exact same pricing that we saw last year with the iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5S is available at all four major US carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile), as well as number of online retailers. The easiest way to order it is directly through Apple’s website, or through their Apple Store App, although the gold color option is still hard to find. Check out the Apple iPhone 5S inventory finder to check stock at a retail location near you.
Apple has put in a ton of wrench time on the 5S and it shows. This thing is fast, how fast? Blazing fast. Using the device on a daily basis, I was amazed with the overall speed compared to my HTC One, Galaxy S4, and Xperia Z. Going between apps, using Air Play, and streaming videos were an absolute breeze with no lag time at all. Apple’s new A7 64-bit chip in combination with iOS 7 makes the iPhone 5S the quickest and most responsive phone I have ever used. Touch ID and the new camera are welcoming features compared to last years iPhone 5, but in no way are they must haves.
For me the iPhone 5S is still Apple’s best iPhone yet without a doubt. Along with the new colors, new features, and more power, it is a breath of fresh air for current Apple owners. If you’re coming from an iPhone 4S or older, I would give you the 100% thumbs up on upgrading. For those iPhone 5 owners looking to make the switch, the iPhone 5S will feels more evolutionary than revolutionary. All non die-hard iPhone 5 owners may want to hold out for a redesigned and potentially bigger screened iPhone 6 coming next year.
iPhone 5S Video Review: