The Good The iPhone 5S delivers an improved camera, a nifty fingerprint sensor, and a next-gen CPU and motion-tracking chip. Apple throws in the iWork app suite for free. iOS 7 adds some nice step-ups, too, including AirDrop file transfers and the Android-like Control Center.
The Bad The exterior design is identical to the design of the iPhone 5, including a 4-inch screen that looks just a tiny bit close to Android competitors. Currently, the fingerprint sensor only works with Apple applications. There are no killer applications in the 64-bit A7 processor and M7 yet. The difference between iOS 7 has the potential to cause great difficulty for old iPhone users.
The Bottom Line The iPhone 5S is not a necessary upgrade, but it is easily the fastest and most advanced Apple smartphone to date.
Update in summer 2018
Apple no longer sells iPhone 5S. While you may still be able to scoop up one new or used third-party, you may be better off buying one iPhone SE , the least expensive model in the current Apple lineup, starting at £ 349, £ 265, or $ 465. Noting that if you can hold out until September, chances are that you’ll have to new batch of iPhone to choose from, as well as lower prices for the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 , iPhone 8 Plus , iPhone X and maybe the iPhone SE – if not discontinued or updated .
A full review of the Apple iPhone 5S, originally released on September 17, 2013 and last updated on March 21, 2016.
Editors’ note (March 21, 2016): Apple has discontinued the 2013 iPhone 5S reviewed here, and replaced it with the iPhone SE. The new model is basically a 5S body with the innards of the late 2015 iPhone 6S.
Editors’ note (September 19, 2014): The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are now the flagship phones in Apple’s 2014-2015 product line. However, in addition to the iPhone 5C, the iPhone 5S (reviewed here) will remain on sale at a reduced price. The 16GB model now sells in two configurations: 16GB ($99 with a typical 2-year contract in the US, $549 off contract; £459 in the UK; AU$749 in the Australia) and 32GB ($149 on contract, $599 off contract in the US; £499 in the UK; and AU$799 in Australia).
I’m tempted to call the iPhone 5S the iPhone 5P, for “potential”. This is Apple’s sixth year, the year of reorganization. This is telegraphed by the name itself: adding an “S” against giving the phone a brand new name. 5S is introducing technologies that can transform the future of iOS as a computing platform and possibly pave the way for future products in 2014. But these changes are not immediately apparent. Her promises have not yet materialized.
Last year’s iPhone 5 was the best iPhone we’ve ever seen. It has justified almost all our wishes and expectations. This has added tons of new opportunities. He had LTE. What the hell did Apple do this year? That added … some new enhancements. Enter the iPhone 5S, which, along with the iPhone 5C, marked the first time Apple has launched two new iPhones in one year. But the 5C is really the iPhone 5 in colored plastic. There’s really only one new iPhone, and it’s 5S.
We wanted to enlarge the screen , improved camera and better battery life. Apple has provided us with a fingerprint sensor, an improved camera and a faster processor. Rather, it’s better, especially when battery life doesn’t suffer, but the 5S doesn’t feel like a shocking new product.
Apple does this every year with the iPhone – see iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S. This is also common in iPad and MacBooks: take the usual form and repeat. But in a telephone landscape where rapid change prevails, it can feel frustrating even for a product we loved just 12 months ago. Even iOS 7, graphically refurbished by Apple, feels different, but not really that shocking. Even the new colors – gold and cosmic gray – are thinner than you realize.
This does not mean that there are no changes, but many of them seem like expensive work for the future; a smart genius fingerprint sensor from home, a clearly better camera, significantly improved graphics, M7 coprocessor motion tracking, and a new A7 processor capable of 64-bit computing are a lot of tricks. But after a week of using the iPhone 5S, it’s hard to find situations that currently use these features, except for the fingerprint sensor and camera.
Check back in two months; with the advent of new apps, the iPhone 5S may seem like a real new iPhone. But now it is a more sophisticated refinement. The iPhone 5 has improved. How much better it depends on how fast the apps and services can take advantage of the features … or whether we will wait for iOS 8 to see how they really work out.
Editors’ note: Updated September 30, 2013, with expanded M7 fitness-tracking section and hands-on with M7-compatible apps, an additional battery test, and observations on real-use battery after several weeks of use. We will continue to update this review in the coming days, based on subsequent testing. Ratings should be considered tentative, and may evolve as testing continues.
Design: Pick up an iPhone 5 and add gold (or “space bar”)
The iPhone 5 was a slightly subtle but thorough rework of the iPhone, from screen size to headphone placement. It introduced an aluminum frame, a slimmer and lighter body, and came in two colors.
The 5S is a copy, with some new color options. You can get last year’s white / silver, or “space gray”, which matches black glass and darker gray anodized aluminum. And yes, there is gold. But it is not like a pillar from the Liberas house: it is soft gold, more champagne or light bronze. Paired with white glass in the back and front, you may find it difficult to spot gold in the wild if it is not kept in the sun. Of the three colors, I liked gray the most: metallic tones could do a better job of hiding scratches, a problem I saw on last year’s all-black iPhone 5.
A year later, the iPhone 5’s design still feels sophisticated and high-end in the 5S, great in the hand and more compact than most competitors. But it also has a smaller screen (4 inches) than most of its Android relatives. I like to use a more compact phone, but competitors have found a way to make 4.7-inch larger screens, feeling great like the Moto X, which has an almost full screen on its face. The iPhone 5S has a much larger frame that frames the display, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this screen could be a little bigger.
A bigger screen would really help this year: not because the competition has it, but because the latest Apple features and applications will benefit it. It seemed to me that editing and evaluating enhanced photos and videos, and even gaming, were complicated; the better the quality of graphics and cameras, the more you need a larger screen to rate them.
There’s no 128GB iPhone this year; you’ll have to once again pick between 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, at the same $199/$299/$399 prices. In the US, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon are the three carriers to offer the iPhone 5S under contract; T-Mobile sells the iPhone 5S in an unlocked, contract-free version that costs $649 for 16GB, $749 for 32GB, and $849 for 64GB.
All versions come with the same A7 processor.
Touch ID: party-trick technology on 5S
See that little home button? It no longer has a square. It is also flat and recessed, not concave. It’s practically the only look the iPhone 5S has to offer to the world, but hiding under this button is the most fun piece of iPhone technology for quite some time. Unfortunately, now is not as much as we would like.
“Touch ID” is Apple’s fingerprint sensor, the secret sauce of smart scanning technology that makes a home button that is now capacitive and simple. The fact that this is done may initially be a little disorienting, but pressing is what the home button does, and when you gently touch the sensor, it activates fingerprint scanning.
Apple’s faster iPhone 5S features fingerprint scanner (pictures)
The simple round Touch ID button works on a simple touch, not on the “finger” gesture of many previous fingerprint readers. Scanning technology, when it detects your fingerprint, forces you to press from different angles so that your fingerprint can be read even on the side or edge. It’s fast: by simply pressing a button and unlocking your phone, scanning goes unnoticed. Most people do not even know that they have scanned them, but try one more finger and you will see that it worked.
A few previous smartphones had previously added fingerprint sensors like the Motorola Atrix, but these were more clumsy bands that needed fingerprints. Touch ID home button feels invisible; it works with a faucet, can recognize your finger from many angles, and feels that it has less bounce than the fingerprint sensors I used on laptops. These are impressive technologies. It worked on all my fingers and even on my finger (I was wondering).
In fact, its only limitation is how little Apple currently uses the Touch ID for the iPhone. Finger scanning takes the place of a password in most cases or a password every time you buy something from the App Store or iTunes. But that’s all Touch ID does now: it doesn’t remember your other passwords on different cloud services, nor does it reference your credit card or pay for movie tickets through Fandango.
In fact, you better remember the access code you used to block your phone, since Touch ID is not an easy replacement. If you restart your iPhone, turn it off, or on or use it for 48 hours, it will ask for your password again before allowing fingerprint recognition. This is potentially useful as an additional deterrent to potential fingerprint thieves, but it has proven to be a bit bizarre over a week of use. I never knew when 5S might insist that I re-enter my password.
Worried about having your child push their finger over and over and erase their phone memory? Never fear. Touch ID prompts by default to prompt for a password after three fingerprint attempts, and after five erroneous attempts, it requires it. Then you still have 10 password attempts before any “delete content after 10 password errors” setting, with which you may have enabled startup.
How much time does it save? A little bit, especially since this process skips the “swipe to unlock” gesture. You will also save a few seconds on entering your password. But, in terms of convenience, I only appreciated it during the day, in those little moments when I quickly needed to jump on the phone.
I have a bigger dream about Touch ID, its fingerprint scanner, which serves as a password replacement third-party application, or even a way to make payments or sign up for flights. It may be a mobile wallet killer app and a slightly sleepy Apple PassBook app that launched with iOS 6. But these additional features will not be available soon. Apple is currently aiming for a Touch ID and your fingerprint – which is encrypted as mathematical data, according to Apple, not an image – will remain on the A7 iPhone 5S chip, beyond the reach of third-party applications or cloud services. This may be useful for added security, but it means that Touch ID is not yet a magic memory – the savior of every password or the replacement of a credit card.
Even so, I expect the Touch ID to break into every Apple device: the next iPad and eventually Macs. Why not? It’s easy to use.
Touch ID may be getting all the headlines lately, but the advanced iPhone 5S is probably the biggest selling point. Cameras are no longer intended on smartphones: for many, they are an important feature as they are slowly but surely replacing point cameras.
If you get a new iPhone for your camera, get 5S. A set of new and useful updates helps to make the already good iPhone 5 camera something better … but, in a landscape full of increasingly impressive camera phones, the iPhone stands out a little less than before.
Unlike many megapixel smartphones (the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020, I look at you), the iPhone 5S remains at 8 megapixels, just as much on paper as last year and even last year. However, according to Apple, the sensor is 15 percent larger: the pixels are physically larger (1.5 microns), even if the same number. The camera aperture is larger (f / 2.2). All these elements enhance low light.
The newer A7 processing also delivers true burst mode: hold down the shutter button and snap as many frames as you want. The iPhone 5 can take a few snapshots, but the iPhone 5S can capture fast-paced action such as sports (or, at home, random baby tricks). Instead of spamming your Camera Roll with identical-looking images, the new iOS 7 camera app cleverly combines them into subfolders and even automatically selects what it considers to be the best shots. This decision is based on image clarity and other factors; sometimes it’s worth the money, but I’ve also seen it blur the image of my 7 month old over a gloomy but clear side profile. You can easily select your own favorites and delete the rest with one click.
I took loads of photos in a ton of conditions, from indoor photos at the zoo’s reptile house to still life flowers and colorful kitchen accessories. Close-up photos show rather incredible detail and less depth of field, which feels more “mirror-like”. For example, see this picture of a rug.
Photos of the toddler in low light were less blurred when zoomed in. Blur is a common problem that I have seen in many of my iPhone 5 low-light photos, which look pretty good on the phone, but don’t hold up so well through Apple TV on a 59-inch display. These 5S pictures looked much better and are more stable.
Apple attributes this to the new Image Signal Processor (ISP) on the iPhone 5S ‘A7 processor. This results in faster autofocus, faster shots and less blur around. Considering how shaky the average person’s hand is when shooting casual phones, this is an improvement.
Apple has made major changes to its built-in LED flash, doubling its size and creating an intelligent True Tone flash that perceives the photo environment and delivers the appropriate flash tone from individual white and amber LEDs.
It’s a terrific endeavor, but the results look much better and warmer than the iPhone 5. Flash I avoid flash on my smartphone when humanly possible, but this year’s improvements may have changed my mind.
iPhone 5S slow-motion sample00:21Replay videoLarge play-pause toggle AutoplayOnOff 00:00 00:00 Settings
1080p video also gets a bit more digital stabilization, 3x digital zoom thanks to iOS 7, and there’s a new Slo-Mo recording mode that switches separately in the camera app. The iPhone records 720p video at 120 frames per second, then applies a slow motion effect at 30 frames per second.
You can adjust the start and stop points of your finger as well as edit the video clip. It looks great, but the slow-motion footage saves the audio. You can always edit it in iMovie (which is now a free application). This type of ultra-fast recording can earn the iPhone 5S a place on a skateboarder’s helmet or on a parachute gear instead of the popular GoPro camera.
Now, how different is it from the high-end competitors who boast better cameras? The iPhone 5S suffers from physical megapixels, but its speed / quality is hard to beat. Adding slow recording is bizarre, but it works very well, and advanced flash technology is nice to have. But overall, the extra speed and integration of the firmware and processor in the iPhone 5S gave the best results. The camera is the biggest enhancement and feature of the iPhone 5S, even without the added megapixels … but it’s not as dramatic as last year’s iPhone 5 camera.
Processor A7: Beast on paper
We are in a great time for mobile phone processors. Just like laptops and PCs a few years ago, impressive speed is becoming the norm year after year. The iPhone 5 was more than twice as fast as the iPhone 4S, and true Apple claims based on every benchmark we could find, the iPhone 5S and its new A7 processor seem at least twice as fast as the 5 and its A6.
The numbers are big, but what does speed in your phone really mean? Sometimes it’s hard to evaluate. Boot times aren’t much faster between the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and iPhone 5 – 26.3 seconds for the 5S and 31.7 for the 5C (and yet, how many times do we even load our phones?). Games and applications load fast and play smoothly, but the iPhone 5 felt the same way it did last year, and the iPhone 5C still feels fast enough for everyday phone tasks.
The types of games and applications that can really benefit from the iPhone 5S and its faster, more graphics-intensive A7 processor are not yet available at the time of this review, but expect them soon. Apparently, I just feel it will limit the number of pop shows you really notice on a 4-inch display.
Is the iPhone 5S faster than other phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One? Based on every standard we could put on the 5S, the answer is yes. How many? It depends on the test. Linpack suggests that the iPhone 5S is much faster – and about twice as fast as the iPhone 5C. Geekbench 3, which recently updated its program to provide 64-bit testing, predicts a nearly 3x increase over the iPhone 5C’s A6 processor.
The 64-bit computing potential of the iPhone 5S and its A7 chips is currently largely theoretical. This may pave the way for a more computing experience on our phones, or even a future merger between Mac OS X and iOS.
Apple’s core 5S applications are 64 bit optimized, but I didn’t anecdotally estimate the huge gains in most of them … except the camera. It’s hard to say how the A7 will make the iPhone 5S better, even if you can feel the speed. It seems killer programs don’t exist here yet.
Games and iPhone 5S
I was interested in trying out more games that take advantage of the iPhone 5S and its clearly enhanced graphics capabilities. Infinity Blade III, showcased at Apple’s event, is the first of the 5S-optimized games now available. I played it through the first few levels.
The crisp gameplay looks really good on the iPhone 5C, 5S, and iPhone 5 (running iOS 6) and looks so much like a casual look that it might be hard to tell the difference – at least on a four-inch iPhone screen. Some distant details and perhaps subtle textures seemed to be lurking on the 5S, but it was more a test of perception than of those who determined the gaming experience. But regardless, take a look at the screenshot above: the game looks damn impressive.
However, these are early days: Infinity Blade III was very quickly adapted to 5S and 64-bit processors. Future games will definitely benefit. One obvious difference now is the boot time: it took an average of 7 seconds for the 5S Infinity Blade III to boot up after logging out and closing all multitasking windows. The iPhone 5C took 1 minute 22 seconds. This is a crazy break, and perhaps the game will post an update to correct this difference, but it also shows where 5S-optimized applications can be sent, compared to 5.
Using downloaded, game-oriented applications that are never different from the real phone capability test, the iPhone 5S still scored an impressive 13858 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited tests compared to the 5 691 on the iPhone 5C; The 5S ran graphics tests at 101 and 61 frames per second against 27.1 and 19.7 seconds on the iPhone 5C. Apple says it will at least double the graphics compared to the A6 iPhone 5 and 5C, but it looks like the gap may be even bigger. These numbers are better than the Samsung Galaxy S4 and any other recent Android phone we’ve tested, which makes the iPhone 5S a theoretical champion of paper in mobile gaming.
Previous graphics-intensive games, such as Riptide GP2, Need for Speed Most Wanted and XCom: Enemy Unknown, were fast downloading and playing well, but didn’t look very different from those played on the iPhone 5 / 5C. But you could imagine great games that not only take advantage of the A7 but also use it future iOS 7-compatible game controller cases and future Apple TV AirPlay compatibility to make an experience that can feel the quality of gaming consoles.
I think it is the gaming controller accessories that will guide game developers to more sophisticated console-quality games that will find ways to take advantage of what the A7 graphics can achieve. A7 is compatible with OpenGL ES 3.0, an API that adds more visual effects and graphics capabilities. The ceiling for what the iPhone 5S can do with the game did not come close to listening to it.
M7 processor: the future of motion (and iWatch?)
There is another new processor on board the iPhone 5S and its presence could be a twinkle of iPods and storage technology. The M7 consolidates motion sensing data collection from the iPhone’s accelerometer without taxing the A7 processor.
It can be the gateway to a new generation of advanced health and motion tracking applications that run without significant battery drain, just as Bluetooth 4.0 allows you to connect wearable devices like Fitbit and Pebble Watch. Could this be a processor that is making its way into future iWatch and even next-generation iPods that were notably absent at Apple’s September event? I put a lot of money into it.
The M7 seems to help with power management, which can help increase battery life, despite the faster processor. It did not add to what I could immediately appreciate. The new iOS 7 Maps app automatically detects if you’re going or going to present the right presentation correctly, but I didn’t really see it (or couldn’t tell if it was) when using the turn – turn directions to go to the local zoo.
M7 applications and how M7 works: Databank for your traffic data
When I first looked at the iPhone 5S, the intriguing coprocessor of the M7 was, in fact, indisputable, as no add-ons took advantage of it, except to some extent, Maps and some other semi-visible subprocesses of the iPhone.
This is no longer the case. Azumio has updated its Argus Health Tracker to use the M7. There are others who do the same. These programs show what the M7 can do.
Basically, the M7 is your own fitness tracker buried deep inside your iPhone 5S. It never shuts off, and it records your movement and activity with a triaxial accelerometer. This activity is recorded and lasts for seven days.
Apps that want to use this data should ask your permission: you switch these settings in the “Privacy / Traffic Tracking” section. But the interesting thing is that any program can be turned off and then simply powered on later and sucked up the collected data as needed. When I signed up, the Argus app was actually full of the last seven days of work. It’s weird, but it’s useful – and since it doesn’t even seem like you need to work on the Internet, it can be handy when on vacation.
The number of steps in M7 seems to be roughly equivalent to a Misfit Shine I wore it on my wrist over the same span. Pedometers are not perfect tape recorders; they all have some variance depending on how they convert the accelerometer data collected into “steps”. But the fact that the iPhone 5S does this without wasting battery or requiring background programs to run is a huge plus. My biggest problem with most fitness gadgets and apps is forgetting to turn them on or wear them. 5S makes the process quite automatic.
Does this mean the iPhone 5S is the best fitness phone? In a sense, yes, since no other smartphone I know of has a real, well-ordered tracker of this type. But how will the M7 work with accessories and wearables? The answer is not yet clear; The M7 is meant as a complement to other fitness tools, it seems. Obviously, most people will not wear an iPhone all the time while working. But it’s much better than having a mother. It’s just weird that data collection is always on.
One thing the iPhone 5S lacks is its own central health app, such as Samsung S Health. S Health is a comprehensive effort to track fitness data and even minimize blood pressure and other medical supplies from your device, as well as provide a centralized directory and database. Apple’s M7 processor is hardware that allows other software, but Apple has decided to go with its own health app. Such an application may be awaiting the future of iWatch or other carrier products using the M7 processor. The potential of the M7 is very, very large, and it could be a hardware destroyer in healthcare and technology wear, but only as far as other applications will take up. However, it’s nice that the M7 data bank can be used by different ecosystems of health apps. I look forward to trying out programs like Nike + Move.
Both the iPhone 5C and 5S come with the previous version of iOS 7, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Just as iPhone 5 was treated with iPhone hardware last year, iOS 7 is a graphic and design overhaul: familiar apps have newer versions, Gray has improved significantly to make more and show more, and even have new ringtones. and disturbing playable sounds.
As an operating system, iOS 7 runs on the iPhone 5S seamlessly and seamlessly, as you’d expect, but its aesthetics sometimes feel like a mixed bag. Many new applications, such as Safari, make the most of the new layout with the maximum display, but they are accompanied by sometimes confusing new interfaces and menus. Like a Facebook post, I think many old users are suddenly (and hopefully temporarily) lost. Some add-ons, such as an expanded notification screen, are welcome; others, such as the new, confusing Calendar app, which lacks meeting lists, will remove hardcore iPhone users from the game. It all grew on me in a few weeks.
iOS 7 has its advantages: AirDrop for on-premises wireless personal file sharing; clear and beautiful FaceTime audio calls that use high bandwidth and can use free calls over Wi-Fi; and a glossy, invertible control panel that lets you choose from many settings and controls at any time. Gray is smarter and can do more things like turn on Bluetooth or play the trailers you want.
AirDrop creates a small local network for document sharing, and it records those you want to find who turned on AirDrop: a specific person, personal contacts, or even the perfect strangers. It should be interesting to see how AirDrop ends up playing in the wild.
iTunes Radio, a free Pandora-like streaming service, comes with Music. Your own artist playlists you created had a good selection of content. The broadcast is supported with advertising, but iTunes Match customers receive it without advertising. Considering it’s free, it sounds pretty good and nice to have, but not surprising.
The redesigned Camera and Photo applications are part of iOS 7, and both are making great improvements. Digital zoom for video and photo filters added, as well as Instagram-square photo cropping mode built-in. The Photo app presents previous photos in a large timeline organized by year and location. It’s a great way to sift through thousands of photos, but this level of presentation is considered more appropriate for the Mac version of iPhoto. This archival style presentation would be much better if iCloud included full synchronization and download of Mac / PC Photo Libraries. But as I said before, a thoughtful presentation of Photo almost requires a larger screen.
Apple also offers Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMove, and iPhoto for free with the purchase of new devices, a nice little toolkit that finally gives iOS devices the kind of productivity software that is increasingly available on competing mobile products. There are many alternatives to these features available on the App Store, some of which are already free, but these versatile apps also work on the iPad, with more efficient layouts.
Display and speakers
The 4-inch 4-inch 1136×640 pixel display on the iPhone 5S is the same as the iPhone 5. It’s bright, colorful and extremely touch-sensitive. But it feels just a little small compared to the screens at the competition. Many smartphones now boast 1,920 x 180 pixel displays and have more screen real estate.
Now, not everyone wants a mega-large phone, and the iPhone has always had a cleverly restrained feel, but more Android phones have come with a nice place with 4.3- and 4.7-inch displays, like the Moto X, which feels great and like previously quite compact. The iPhone 5S screen might have been a little bigger.
The sound is still pumped through the speaker grille on the right side of the Lightning socket from below: you can accidentally cover it and muffle playback with just one finger. Even though there is no stereo speaker, the audio still sounds loud enough to enjoy videos and movies without headphones … but I would usually choose headphones.
Antenna and wireless connection
The iPhone 5S has dual band 802.11 a / b / g / n Wi-Fi, just like the iPhone 5 and Bluetooth 4.0. Apple AirDrop technology in iOS 7 allows you to share files locally, possibly minimizing NFC omissions on the iPhone, but it’s worth noting that NFC is still missing on any Apple device. Both the iPhone 5C and 5S also lack the faster Wi-Fi 802.11ac that has been introduced in many products, including the 2013 MacBook Airs and 2013 AirPorts. This is a wonderful omission over the otherwise 5S.
Last year, the addition of LTE cellular broadband to the iPhone 5 resulted in dramatically faster browsing. For the most part, your experience will not change here: you will be browsing about as fast in the US, but Apple has added more support for international compatibility.
Trying it out anecdotally in my office, I got around 20.7Mbps download and 2.5 Mbps upload over AT&T’s network at three bars of service, compared with 18.3 and 4.1 on the iPhone 5C. You shouldn’t see a difference.
Over days of average use, the iPhone 5S feels like the same call-quality experience as on the iPhone 5. I had the same average level of missed/dropped calls, and the audio seemed similar on my AT&T review model. That’s no surprise: the 5S has the same fundamental design.
Call quality, if you’re curious, can be heard below. It sounds about the same on an AT&T iPhone 5S as it does on an AT&T iPhone 5C.
Sample call quality of iPhone 5SListen now:
FaceTime audio calls made via Wi-Fi on iOS 7 sound much better and present, and this can be the start of many people who decide to make FaceTime phone calls over regular ones.
Using the battery test for video playback, which looped CNET content as music video in iOS Music, Airplane mode and semi-brightness, the iPhone 5S lasted exactly 11 hours. During the second test, which ran 720p Toy Story 3 video over and over, the battery ran out for 10 hours and 57 minutes. It’s better than the iPhone 5C, which lasted 10 hours 16 minutes and 9 hours 45 minutes on two battery tests. Both are a step up from last year’s iPhone 5, at least in terms of pure video playback.
Of course, you will not use your iPhone in airplane mode, making loop-free video. During normal round-the-clock use, I found myself able to reach the rest of the day with about 20 percent left – by turning off the power at about 8:00 and looking for a power outlet at about 8:00. I will need to use it even more to understand it, but this is about equivalent performance than the iPhone 5 during my first week of use. What I ever dream of is not a battery with a super-powerful iPhone device, but at least a newer, faster A7 processor has not at all damaged the battery life – it seems to have improved slightly.
After a few more weeks of using my main phone, exchanging a SIM card with an iPhone 5 running iOS 6, I found daily performance to be the same. I’m actively using my iPhone in the morning: streaming music, email and browsing, a few phone calls and some games. I use it less than half a day. However, as before, I found that I needed a good midday to bring him home again. I tend to hit the 50 percent battery life by lunchtime and the red zone at 20 percent around 6:00. This is true for the size of the phone and my heavy use, but I really want the iPhone battery life to go up the hill to magical territory, which is a plus day all day long.
iPhone 5S against its competition
Unlike the toughest competition, the iPhone 5S stands on a slightly tighter ground. With Touch ID as the only compelling device innovation, Apple is opening doors for Samsung (Galaxy S4), Nokia (Lumia 1020), HTC (One) and LG ( G2 ) to engage customers with a range of phones that feature large screens, breathtaking design and advanced camera offerings.
Likewise, the parity of software for big ticket items – compared, especially to Android and to some extent with Windows Phone – means that Apple has very little to offer that is different or new than the glossy look of iOS 7.
Customers choose the iPhone 5S for many reasons: because they trust the brand, because they like the phone, because they are already entrenched in the Apple ecosystem – but not because they can do many important things that other phones can’t. Time will tell if the Touch ID becomes the new standard in smartphone security, whether the M7 processor ushers in a new era of connected wearable technology and applications, or whether 64-bit mobile computing is a phase shift. At present, none of these elements can be a major factor in the difference.
Bottom line: if you want to clap, zoom in, expand storage, or have a camera with a larger lens and a physical zoom, well … don’t look for an iPhone.
What can I get: iPhone 5S or 5C?
If you’ve been waiting for your iPhone all the time but missed a generation or two, search for the iPhone 5S. You will appreciate the better camera and protection of your bases in the future. But if you just want a basic and very good smartphone that works well, the iPhone 5C will do just fine. There are several, if any, critical features that it does not have.
Upgrade or wait?
Whether you believe in the future potential of the iPhone 5S’s built-in offerings is a leap of faith. Will Touch ID be distributed to work with all kinds of applications and services? Will the M7 be able to invent phone health and context-oriented mobility apps? Will 64-bit computing be a huge step forward in iOS history?
All you can really count on with the iPhone 5S is that it has a noticeably better camera, faster and better graphics. The rest are “things to come.” Chances are that Apple will be useful for many of these claims, but this is never a guarantee. The impact is incomplete at the moment. With the development of the iPhone 5S and its applications, this review will evolve.
The iPhone 5S feels like a “pro” phone like never before, the equivalent of an iPhone MacBook Pro. Its features are not immediately understood by consumers. For many, the iPhone 5C will do just fine. The most coveted features – improving MacBook Air battery life and an even bigger screen – aren’t yet on the new iPhone.
If you are deep in the Apple ecosystem, the 5S can be the first step in new directions. Its improved speed, graphics and battery performance make it a better phone than the iPhone 5 if you were waiting for an upgrade.
But if you already have an iPhone 5, I’d say it’s not a bad year to just wait.