The iPhone 5S: a phone that looks like the iPhone 5, but goes so much further under the hood. Is that going to be enough to impress the impatient masses?

We've been here before: the iPhone 'S' conundrum. The new phone comes along, taking the shell of the previous model, adds some new bits and pieces, and then claims to be an entirely new phone.

Scores in depth

Design

Features

Performance

Usability

Value




Which it is, of course. But also isn't. But mostly is. It's a move that only Apple can pull off with any kind of conviction: the notion that it can take the same chassis, have a little tinker, throw in a new CPU, slightly better battery and camera, and call it an all-conquering device.

But then again, such is the clamor to know all about it, is that such a bad move? There are literally millions of people the world over who can't wait to see what the next handset from Apple will be, and there was no surprise with the iPhone 5S.

There are a few who question whether it's 'fair' to launch a phone and then append an 'S' to the same thing a year later - Apple's response would likely be that nobody is forcing you to buy the new hardware. And that's a fair point too: yes, this is a phone that bears far too many hallmarks of its predecessor. And yes, this is the third time Apple has done this.

It's also managed to try to pop it onto the market complete as one of the most expensive smartphones out there, even on 3G plans. It'll cost you $199, $299 and $399 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, respectively, on contracts in the U.S.

iPhone 5S review

But if it were such a bad business move, if the market wasn't willing to accept such a thing, then Apple would have folded as a smartphone brand years ago... or at least been lagging behind the competition.

That said, times are changing in the smartphone landscape. Where before Apple was able to just create the phone it wanted, and forget the competition in the knowledge that it wasn't going to have to worry about losing consumers to a competitor, now it's been forced to realize that there are at least four decent options for a consumer to think about if they want to get a really good handset.

Apple is obviously aware of this change, be it the aluminium unibody of the HTC One, the new fight into low light cameras or the need for a strong processor as a headline to shout about, and it's addressed these needs to some degree or other on the iPhone 5S.

Be it the all new Touch ID home button (which is excellent, more on that later), the huge jump in CPU power or the fact the camera has, once again, been improved no end, the new iPhone is clearly Apple's attempt at bringing as much as it can to the party without having to re-design the whole concept all over again.

There are many that think that releasing the same design twice is cheeky, and there are others that realize that sometimes there's no need for change. It's easy to fall into the former camp, and while Apple will happily point out it's not forcing anyone to buy its phones, its acutely aware the competition is now scarily strong and it needed to bring its best to stay relevant.