iPhone 5S review

Faster, new camera and a clever fingerprint reader. But is it enough of an upgrade?

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Apple has imbued the new iPhone 5S with not one, but two, chips that will help it become one of the most powerful phones on the market.

It's almost insane to think of the power running under the hood here, and there's no doubt that it's given things a real performance boost – with a lot, lot more potential to come down the road.

A7 Chip

The new A7 chip from Apple is an interesting concept: not only does it bring a huge boost in power, but it's now been turbo-charged to a 64-bit CPU.

To most people that label will mean nothing more than wondering whether this means their phone is as powerful as a Nintendo 64 – in reality, it's actually a pretty important move for the company.

iPhone 5S review

Simply put, a 64-bit chip allows for more powerful processing, a greater amount of power to be plugged through the phone for most tasks and will tolerate a greater amount of RAM in the future too.

The thing is, it doesn't really mean much to the consumer right now. There are some noticeable elements that take advantage, with the camera much faster and able to handle so much smoothly, and we're willing to bet the Touch ID sensor is going to need a hefty whack of power to enable such tight security on the phone.

Beyond that though you're not going to notice much in the way of an improved experience, and that's not because this phone is slow, it's because the iPhone is already a slick and fast beast. Almost since the iPhone 4 have we not seen much in the way of slowdown from Apple's handsets, and this is no different. In fact, in side by side comparisons, the iPhone 5S is actually a touch slower than the iPhone 5 for general use, thanks to iOS 7 relying more on animations to move between apps.

This doesn't mean it feels slower, it just has a really different feel to the way you navigate through the phone.

So there are two things to note when thinking about the A7 chip: one, Apple is able to talk about a chip that's one of the most powerful around, which is something its rivals have been doing for a while now with no need. But like the quad core phones of today, there's not a lot of point in a 64-bit chip right now.

That doesn't mean it's a pointless move from Apple, and this leads us to our second point: Apple is getting its iPhone range ready for the next generation of devices. Ones that will allow developers to create apps across all Apple devices, thanks to the iPhones now packing 'desktop class architecture'.

But what does it all mean for you, the consumer? Well, put simply, it's Apple taking its CPU seriously, giving the customer more power than they could ever possibly need at the moment without compromising too much on battery life.

It's pretty hard to see how that could be a negative, despite some claiming that this is nothing but a marketing exercise. It's not, it's Apple future proofing itself, allowing its phones to add in new layers of security and providing developers with the tools to make even better apps.

iPhone 5S review

However, those apps will be larger and could create a greater drain on battery life should they get more intensive – however, that's for Apple and the developers to thrash out, and there's no reason to think that there won't be greater efficiencies clawed back through the improved OS integration.

In short: bigger, faster and better to give the most slick iPhone experience yet. This is Apple sticking it to the quad-core brigade.

M7

There's another cheeky little chip under the hood that sits alongside the A7 main unit: the M7 chip, which is there to make the iPhone 5S into a rival to the likes of the Nike Fuelband and the Jawbone Up.

It allows the main CPU to snooze while it tracks the motion of the phone, through the accelerometer, gyrometer and compass.

This means that it will know when you're jogging or when you're in the car, and can take that information and store it without needing to drain the battery by having the main CPU chugging away.

It can even retrofit the data to apps that you download at a later date, meaning any M7-enabled app that uses the new CoreMotion API will be able to give you information on recent training.

It will also seamlessly slip from walking to driving navigation on Apple Maps, which is a nifty extra, taking another hassle out of life, and especially useful for keeping drivers safe behind the wheel.

We're yet to see the benefit of what's on offer here with the M7 chip, but Apple is going to get more and more involved in the fitness part of the smartphone world, and this is a major play towards that.

Tags

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBNo
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory64 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyiPhone 5s
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourSilver
Operating SystemiOS
Brand NameApple
Battery Talk Time10 Hour
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution1136 x 640
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)112 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerApple
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Backlight TechnologyLED
Operating System VersioniOS 7
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, iMessage
Pixel Density326 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.2 Megapixel
Height123.7 mm
Width58.7 mm
Depth7.6 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time250 Hour
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product NameiPhone 5s Smartphone
Processor Speed1.70 GHz
Product LineiPhone 5s
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Fingerprint Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberMF359X/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

Unrealized until now. Indispensable from now on.

A chip with 64-bit architecture. A fingerprint identity sensor. A better, faster camera. And an operating system built specifically for 64-bit. Any one of these features in a smartphone would make it ahead of its time. All of these features in a smartphone make it an iPhone that's definitely ahead of its time.

The gold standard. Also available in silver and gray.

iPhone 5s is precision crafted down to the micron. And it's evident throughout. The beautiful aluminum housing. The sleekness of metal and glass. Sapphire crystal in the Home button. And more sapphire crystal protecting the iSight camera. Design and construction of this level is unmatched. As a result, iPhone 5s looks and feels unbelievably thin and light. And it's available in three elegant expressions: gold, silver, and space gray.

Package Contents
  • iPhone 5s Smartphone
  • EarPods with Remote and Mic
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • 5W USB Power Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year