GTA 5 rocks up in a week of Apple news

Week in Tech
In GTA 5, the iFruit is the Apple alternative, but we got the real thing this week

Week in Tech would like to start this week's episode with an apology: if you hate Apple, Apple products, Apple operating systems, people who like Apple products, people who have been inside Apple Stores or just the word Apple, you're only really getting a paragraph in this week's episode, so let's be quick: GTA 5 is out! It's the most successful UK game launch ever! There are so many Easter eggs you'll never find them all! The tech behind it is interesting!

And that's your lot. Stop! Apple time!

You saw the fancy videos, but how does the iPhone 5S stand up in the real world? Is it the best phone ever, or just the best iPhone ever? There's only one name to call, and that name begins with "G" and ends with "areth Beavis". Our smartphone supremo is all over the 5S like a finger on a Touch ID sensor.

As he rightly points out, a minor price hike means that the iPhone 5S is "one of the most expensive smartphones out there, even on 3G price plans." The smartphone world is very different these days, and the iPhone has some very credible rivals. Is it still worth the extra cost?

Week in Tech

The 5S looks the luxe part, but we're not sure if it's insides seal the deal

The short answer is "hmmm". It's a 'tweener model - the S iPhones are always relatively minor improvements, with the big changes happening when the phones get a brand new number - but nevertheless it's "one of the most cutting-edge smartphones around, imbued with a top-end camera and a really innovative feature with Touch ID." Touch ID is going to be a very big deal, we suspect, and that M7 motion processor is interesting too.

That's the good. The bad? Price, the relatively small screen, price and price. It's a lovely thing, but "we can't see what lives in the iPhone 5S to justify being the most expensive phone on the market." That said, if you like this sort of thing then this is the sort of thing you will like.

Plastic surgery

Week in Tech

The 5C marks Apples first bid for the budget market

That doesn't bode well for the iPhone 5C, which is essentially a plastic iPhone 5. It wasn't as cheap as many hoped, so is this a cheap iPhone or just a cheaper iPhone? It's an important distinction. Over to Mr Beavis, who favours "cheaper" over "cheap": the iPhone 5C is "slightly more affordable. Slightly being the key word."

The whole thing leaves Beavis rather puzzled. As a device it's nice enough, but "its price tag, overall design and lack of glass-based, premium feel leaves a slightly unpleasant taste." Apple hasn't gone downmarket to slug it out with no-name cheapies, but the price isn't that much lower for a device that "lacks that premium feeling we've become accustomed to from iPhones... does it feel like it's worth the money you're paying? In all honesty, no."

The iPhone 5C may be cheaper than the iPhone 5S, but it's more expensive than the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Nokia Lumia 925. We can't help thinking that where previous iPhones were all about the devices, the 5C is all about the marketing.

Operational issues

Both the iPhone 5S and 5C run iOS 7, the latest and possibly greatest version of Apple's mobile operating system. So if you're thinking of upgrading, just how different is it really? We've put together a quick list of the major differences between iOS 7 and iOS 6, so you can see whether your favourite features have been affected. Not all of its goodies are immediately obvious, though, so we've also provided you with a list of our favourite iOS 7 tips and tricks too.

As you'd expect, we've also looked at it in great detail and posted our thoughts online. "While previous iOS updates were largely a case of install-and-get-on-with-it, iOS 7 takes a bit more getting used to" - but "Apple isn't hurling babies out with the bathwater here. The iOS we know and largely love is still there, but it's been given one hell of a makeover."

The visual changes are largely effective - although the Music app is pretty hideous and the new look is sometimes just too bright: "using Safari on an iPad in a dark room after a long day is really quite unpleasant." But the most important changes are functional.

Week in Tech

iOS 7 has learned a lot of tricks from elsewhere, but what matters is how it works

The new Control Center makes it much easier to access key features such as Bluetooth and Airplane Mode, the new Notification Center is handy, Safari and Mail are much better and the whole thing feels much more modern and efficient. Many of the changes owe obvious debts to Android, WebOS and - yikes! - even Windows Vista, but the important issue isn't who thought of them first but whether they make your life happier, and in iOS 7 they do.

It's not all good, though. Maps is good but not great and definitely not as good as Google, Siri alternates between being absolutely wonderful and utterly infuriating, and as with iOS 6 you shouldn't expect all-day battery life if you actually plan to use your device for anything other than the odd email check.

If you're a die-hard Android fan there's nothing here that's going to make you reconsider your life choices and jump aboard the Apple train. If you're already an iOS user, though, it "will make your device feel brand new all over again. We think you'll like it a lot." Are we right? Let us know in the comments.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.