Detractors will point to the identical shell (colours aside) of the iPhone 5S and claim that it's not much more than a rebadged iPhone 5 (nope... that's the iPhone 5C, people) but to do that misses the point of this new device.
If you want to match the iPhone 5S spec for spec with other smartphones, then it's a difficult task - but it
misses the point of Apple's device.
Below the surface Apple put together one of the most cutting-edge smartphones around in late 2013, imbued with a top-end camera and a really innovative feature with Touch ID.
There's only so much that smartphone manufacturers can do to differentiate these days, and while Apple can't expect consumers to be wowed by the same shell, it can expect to get some interest in the sharp camera and gives a sense of relief with the A7 chip.
The M7 chip is a really cool tool for developers to play with, though it has taken months for the iOS 8 update to really unleash its potential with the Health app and third-party tie-ins.
Yes, the 64-bit element of the A7 chip doesn't have a huge role to play now, but it does make things like camera use so much faster, and facilitates the increased security in Touch ID. I just hope Apple starts to exploit its power in the future.
I'll start with a different refrain: the screen technology on offer here is what upsets us most. There will be a lot of upgraders from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 5S, and many of them will be disappointed to see that two years later they're still looking at the same resolution, albeit a bit stretched out.
The only reason they'll be a little sad is that the Full HD screens of the rivals are so much more impressive - in its own iPhone 5S world, the screen is just fine and looks great and clear - but woe betide anyone that sees one of the larger devices out there (like the iPhone 6 pair).
I do want to applaud Apple for sticking to its guns and offering up a decent choice for those that like a smaller display, but this is already too big for one hand, so a little more real estate wouldn't go amiss. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are evidence that Apple agrees.
And then there's the price. Some reviewers don't seem to think this should be taken into account, that the mere fact Apple can command such a high cost for its phones, both on contract and SIM free, and still sell millions shows this is a moot point.
Perhaps it was less of an issue when Apple was such a market leader, but now there are at least four worthy competitors out there, and they all cost less. Even taking the price drop into account the iPhone 5S still looks pretty expensive.
I can't see what lives in the iPhone 5S to justify being the most expensive phone on the market at release, although I do recognise the effort that's gone into the premium design and spec list for the 5S.
Battery life is also a too suspect for my liking, and you might want to considering buying a second charger to carry around when using the iPhone.
The iPhone 5S was, predictably, the best iPhone ever from Apple - but what's intriguing is just how much I enjoyed using this evolutionary device.
There's always an apathy with any kind of 'S' device from Apple, as it's historically just the same thing
made a little bit better. It's true the advances on the iPhone 5S are few, but the ones that are there are
very impressive indeed.
64 bit apps have been slowly trickling out (although not really making use of the chip thanks to a lack of
RAM), and the A7 processor is clearly capable of some very heavy lifting.
Although we're past a year since launch and there still aren't that many high power apps available to take advantage of this chip - which makes sense given there's not really enough RAM to support it.
The camera is improved impressively, taking some excellent shots with minimal backlift needed from the user, and the Touch ID sensor is the first real step into biometrics on a smartphone, and one that Apple has succeeded in implementing.
The new iOS 9 has helped things a great deal, adding features here and there, fixing bugs, and opening up possibilities for Touch ID and the M7 co-processor.
It's no longer the best iPhone on the market, that would have to be the iPhone 6S, but the iPhone 5S still has a place in the Apple eco-system. For fans of smaller phones this is still the best option Apple has to offer, though as it increases in age, its place in that eco-system will become ever more perilous.
The combination of iOS 9 to freshen things up with a powerful core and great camera mean that this phone should be considered on its own considerable merits, and while the relatively high price will continue to put many off, anyone already wedded to the iPhone bandwagon, or even if they're just on the fence, will find a lot of joy in a phone that's a lot more than an iterative update.
First reviewed: September 2013