iPhone 5s Review
Should you upgrade to the iPhone 5s?
The iPhone 5s really is the crème de la crème when it comes to iPhones, and arguably, smartphones in general. So what’s so special about the iPhone 5s compared to all of its predecessors? And is it worth upgrading to the iPhone 5s if you’ve already got the iPhone 5?
Here are just some of the iPhone 5s’ worst and best bits:
- Super elegant
- Amazing camera
- Fingerprint scanner
- iOS 7
- Not hugely different to the iPhone 5
In many ways, the iPhone 5s is identical in build and appearance to the iPhone 5.
It has the same sized 4-inch screen, and is identical in size, shape and weight as the iPhone 5. Because of this, the phone feels really slim and light in your hand, and has a premium feel that you just don’t get with any other Android.
One key difference between the iPhone 5 and 5s is the colour variation. While we’re used to seeing Apple’s latest releases in either black or white, the iPhone 5s has stepped it up a bit, with the handset available in silver (in place of the white version), grey (instead of black), and gold.
Although I expected the gold handset to look a little shiny and cheap, Apple has ensured that the matt gold effect looks nothing more than luxurious, and really made me want to show the device off to anyone in the vicinity!
One of the coolest features built-into the iPhone 5s’ fascia is the amazing fingerprint scanner, which allows you to unlock the device using just your fingerprint (as discussed below). The scanner is discretely built-into the iPhone 5s’ home button, though at first glance, it looks just like any other home button.
Finally, the iPhone 5s features a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, which, teamed with the new 64-bit A7 chip and M7 co-processor, makes the iPhone 5s the quickest iPhone around. This processor, in simple terms, allows the phone to sense when you are moving and when you are stationery. For instance, if you are on a train journey and your iPhone is on the table, the device won’t constantly search for phone signal, thus using up unnecessary battery. Likewise, if you are driving in your car using apple Maps and get out to walk to your destination, the iPhone 5s will sense the change in movement, switching Apple Maps from driving mode to walking mode automatically. Magic!
Phone Set Up
The main difference between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5s (as with the 4 and 4s) is the set-up of the phone. As a result, the iPhone 5s comes pre-loaded with iOS 7, Apple’s latest operating system upgrade, just like the slightly cheaper iPhone 5c.
iOS 7 offers over 200 new features compared to iOS 6, including camera updates, notification centres and above all, a totally new design.
The operating system had really modernised its user interface, moving away from the old, corporate style to a more fun and colourful design. Although this change has divided Apple fans, the new iOS layout is something which I think makes the iPhone 5s stand out.
Design aside, iOS 7 also improves the user experience of the iPhone. There’s a new control panel which you can access by scrolling upwards from the bottom of your screen. From here, you can have quick access to all of your most-used settings and apps, such as Bluetooth, your calculator, the camera and music controls.
By swiping downwards from the top of the screen, you can also access your notifications bar, which displays all of your texts, calls and calendar reminders, divided into three tabs: one for today’s notifications, one for all of your missed notifications and the third listing all of your alerts.
You might remember the search function being located on the far left home screen on phones loaded with iOs 6, but this has changed with iOS 7. Instead, you can search for any app, contact or message from any of your home screens by swiping downwards from the middle of the screen. Simply type in your search terms and wait for the iPhone 5s to locate it!
Finally, iOS 7 features a new double tap feature, which allows you to scroll through your recently opened apps. As well as displaying the app icon, you can also view a screen shot of your last activity, not only allowing you to switch between apps in a much more efficient way, but also jogging your memory about what you were doing if you are interrupted at any point!
A key feature of the iPhone 5s which hasn’t been seen on an iPhone before is the fingerprint scanner. We’ve heard a lot about the security of this feature, with German hackers managing to hack their way into a locked device, but at the end of the day, there’s no denying that having a fingerprint scanner on your phone is simply cool.
The feature works by scanning up to 5 fingerprints into the phone’s memory, allowing more than one user to access the phone (handy if your kids want to have a go on it!). Once set, you simply place your finger (or thumb) over the home button, where the scanner is located, and your phone will unlock. What’s great is that you can also use the technology to buy things over iTunes, protecting your secure financial information more than with just a password.
However, as much as I loved being able to unlock my phone or buy songs from iTunes by just using my finger, I can see it being a feature which would lose its novelty given time.
Air Drop is also a new feature to iOS 7, and is something we’ve already seen in Mac computers, but never on the iPhone. The feature essentially works like Bluetooth, allowing you to transfer multiple files and pictures to other iPhones within seconds.
Apple has also made it even easier to share your files, via Air Drop or any other social platform. Simply select, say, a photo, click on the share icon, and you can select which social network you want to share it via. This is far easier than iOS 6, which limited your sharing options somewhat.
Camera & Video
Despite the iPhone 5s having a similar 8 megapixel camera as the iPhone 5, Apple has put the effort into ensuring that the 5s’ camera packs a real punch when it comes to photography.
The iPhone 5s features an entirely new dual-flash, which, according to Apple, closely matches the flash to the colour of the background. The True Tone flash allows you to take even better photos in low light situations as well as indoors by matching the colour of the natural light in your photo to the appropriate colour flash.The effect of the True Tone Flash is that people’s skin looks more natural, and backgrounds look more realistic, rather than your photos looking washed-out and your subjects startled like with more traditional camera flashes.
iOS 7 has also improved the iPhone’s camera, offering 5 new camera modes on the iPhone 5s. There’s Auto, Panoramic, Square (which is great for Instagramming your favourite pics), video, and best of all, Slo-Mo.
Although the Slo-Mo mode is a little gimmicky, you’ll be surprised at the endless hours of fun you can have filming seemingly regular activities such as walking down the street and pigeons waddling around… The feature also allows you to create your very own Baywatch moments..!
By holding down the shutter icon, you can also enact the burst photography mode, taking up to 10 frames per second, allowing you to get the best photo out of any situation. iOS 7 will automatically select which photo it thinks looks best, but you can scroll through the selection manually and choose your own too.
Here's a guide of how to use burst photography.
|Choose from your favourite still shots displayed at the bottom of the screen|
Now let’s get straight onto the photos. As you can see, the iPhone 5s is at no disadvantage for having an 8MP lens. In fact, I much preferred the simplicity that the iPhone 5s offers compared to most premium Android smartphones, which pack filters, stickers and gimmicky modes into their camera apps instead.
While the iPhone 5s does offer a selection of filters to improve your photos, this is by no means the main feature of the device’s camera.
Apple claims that the iPhone 5s can last for up to 10 hours of talk time, which is a whole 2 hours more than the iPhone 5. In testing, we found that the battery performed slightly better than its predecessor, but not so much that your charger would go unused!
I found that after using the phone to do the usual texting, calling and taking photos of my dinner (come on, everyone does it), I still needed to charge the phone each night, which is expected for a phone with as many features as this.