iPhone 5s review round-up: what reviewers from around the web think about the deviceSeptember 19, 2013 0 Email article | Print article
Apple’s latest iPhones are almost here. But before the public gets their hands on the newest iPhones, reviewers from around the web have been using and testing the phones for more than a week. Right before we tell you what they think, here’s a quick overview of the iPhone 5s:
The iPhone 5s is one of Apple’s two new iPhones. Its the higher-end option and the new flagship device for the company. Apple calls it its most “forward-thinking” phone yet, and considering the kind of tech that they’ve packed into it, they’re probably right. The iPhone 5s features a similar design to the iPhone 5, with the only noticeable change being the new True Tone flash on the camera and the new home button
The reason the home button looks different this time around is because its actually packing a fingerprint sensor. Apple is calling it Touch ID, and it allows you secure your phone with a passcode, but easily unlock it yourself by placing your finger on the home button — bypassing the need for the passcode. It’ll also let you make purchases on the App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store without needing to input your password. In addition to the fingerprint sensor, the iPhone 5s was designed to impress with its performance. The phone features a brand new A7 processor with 64-bit support that can pull off some amazing looking stuff. The iPhone 5s costs $200 on a standard two year carrier contract.
At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the fingerprint sensor as a whiz-bang feature designed to attract eyeballs and do little else. But this isn’t that. The fingerprint sensor, unlike some other questionable recent smartphone tech like gesture control or eye-tracking, doesn’t feel like a gimmick or tech demo; it feels like a mature feature that actually enhances the overall experience of using an iPhone in a noticeable way that you encounter very frequently.
The A7 SoC is seriously impressive. Apple calls it a desktop-class SoC, but I’d rather refer to it as something capable of competing with the best Intel has to offer in this market. In many cases the A7′s dual cores were competitive with Intel’s recently announced Bay Trail SoC. Web browsing is ultimately where I noticed the A7′s performance the most. As long as I was on a good internet connection, web pages just appeared after resolving DNS. The A7′s GPU performance is also insanely good – more than enough for anything you could possibly throw at the iPhone 5s today, and fast enough to help keep this device feeling quick for a while.
First, let’s tackle the camera’s low-light performance. The shots we took with the 5s were consistently better than what we took with the 5: they were sharper, with finer details, more natural colors and far less noise. As you might expect, our daylight shots were roughly on par, though there were a few times when the 5s won out by a slight margin, offering just a little more detail. All told, the 5s plays in the same league as all those other flagships with a bigger emphasis on imaging.
Even so, our sample shots still showed more noise and less detail than the same images taken with the Nokia Lumia 1020. The 5s also does a good job of reproducing color, but it’s not the best performer in this category, either. Make no mistake, though: the iPhone has been – and continues to be – great as a simple grab-and-go camera. It may not be a best-in-class performer, but the vast majority of iPhone users will still be happy.
The iPhone 5s is the best iPhone so far, by a long shot. Apple is notorious for describing its products as “magical”. The magic of the iPhone 5s is in how usable its improvements are. The updated camera is both fast and capable, with the True Tone flash proving itself to be no gimmick, while the Touch ID system feels like the first biometrics system that actually stands a chance of succeeding in the mass market.
The reviews make it clear that the iPhone 5s is, just like Apple says, a step forward. It probably won’t turn the smartphone industry upside down anytime soon, but improvements in virtually every aspect of the device make it the best iPhone yet. With the timing of iOS 7′s arrival, the iPhone 5s looks like a solid purchase for earlier iPhone owners and newcomers alike.