iPhone 5S review

Faster, improved camera and a clever fingerprint reader. But is it starting to show its age?

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iPhone 6

iPhone 6

The iPhone 6 might only be one generation newer than the iPhone 5S, but to look at it you'd be forgiven for thinking there were several years between the two phones. It has a larger 4.7-inch screen and a whole new look, with a thinner, curvier design.

The iPhone 6 is also more powerful, as you'd expect with a generational leap, and it has noticeably better battery life, but beneath the surface much has stayed the same. The screen for example, while bigger and higher resolution (750 x 1334), retains the same pixel density.

It has an 8MP camera, just like the iPhone 5S, albeit with some improvements to the software, and both phones now run iOS 9.2.1.

With a starting price of £459/$549/AU$929 it is of course more expensive, and if you particularly want a small screen you may favour the iPhone 5S anyway, but if you can afford the extra outlay the iPhone 6 is a better buy for most. The increased screen size really is beneficial, and the better battery life improves on one of the 5S's main issues.

iPhone 6S

iPhone 6S

The iPhone 5S isn't really in the same league as the iPhone 6S, but as a one-time Apple flagship and a still fairly expensive phone it's worth comparing them.

Like the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6S sports a different and altogether more modern design to the iPhone 5S. It's also a lot more powerful, has a new 12MP camera, a larger 4.7-inch screen, better battery life and innovative new display tech in the form of 3D Touch.

While it's not a massive jump over the iPhone 6 it's night and day compared to the iPhone 5S. Of course with all these upgrades comes a big jump in price, as the iPhone 6S starts at £539/$649/AU$1,079. You also get the option of 128GB of on-board storage.

The iPhone 6S is the best iPhone yet and worth the money, but it's significantly more expensive than the iPhone 5S, so it's not remotely budget-friendly.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Xperia Z5 Compact

Few companies are making small smartphones these days, but with its Compact range Sony is still supplying them. The latest of these is the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and despite being a lot newer and almost packing flagship specs it's actually a similar price to the iPhone 5S.

It includes a 4.6-inch 720p screen, which is larger than the one on the iPhone 5S, but still pretty small and similarly sharp at 323 pixels per inch.

It's also powerful, thanks to an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor and 2GB of RAM. Like the iPhone 5S it has a fingerprint scanner, but its battery life is way better and it has a top of the range 23MP camera.

The design perhaps isn't quite as premium but in most other ways you're getting a lot for your money and more than the iPhone 5S can deliver. The 5S might still look like a flagship, but the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact performs like one.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Galaxy S6

Remarkably the Samsung Galaxy S6 has now come down in price so much that you can get it for little more than the iPhone 5S and really there are only two reasons not to choose Samsung's phone- you want iOS, or you want a small screen.

At 5.1 inches the Galaxy S6 doesn't have a massive display, but it's substantially larger than the 4.0-inch screen on the iPhone 5S. It's also far, far higher resolution at 1440 x 2560, so images are crystal clear.

Unlike most previous Samsung handsets the S6 is also built from premium materials, with sheets of glass enclosed in a metal frame, leaving it looking just as high end as the iPhone 5S.

There is, of course, plenty of power too, not to mention a fingerprint scanner and a great 16MP camera. Battery life isn't great, but then nor is it on the iPhone 5S.

Nexus 5X

Google Nexus 5X

The latest creation from Google and LG is cheaper than the iPhone 5S, and is well worth considering if you want something that's both newer and less expensive – provided Android is to your tastes, of course.

The phone features an appealing design, some upper-mid-range specs and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with all the visual appeal of Material Design. The 5.2-inch screen runs at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

The camera is disappointing (as they often are on Android devices), so serious photographers will favour the Apple option. That said, the iPhone 5S is likely to get retired before the Nexus 5X, which only launched last year.

You get more power for less money with the Nexus 5X, although overall a lot of people would still plump for the iPhone 5S.

Read our full Nexus 5X review


Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
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
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