earphone jack, speaker and usb slot for the iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S Review: Apple’s Most Forward-Thinking Smartphone

Few weeks ago, Apple released the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. With the new technological advancements, Apple is not slacking, or maybe they seem to be, by producing a cheaper iPhone 5C which has since been recorded to have sold less than the iPhone 5S. The term slacking however cannot be used to describe the direction Apple is taking with the production of the iPhone 5S. The 5S is bursting with productivity and lots of changes, not that you will touch, just what you feel while using the phone. It’s not an analogy based on myths or as some people say, overrating the iPhone, it’s based on facts. The 5S is here, and Apple’s flagship phone of 2013 has been put to test for the past few weeks, in my hands. Did it pass or fail the test? Passing and failing is relative so have your take as you may.

Design

Comparing the iPhone 5S to iPhone 5, nothing much changed really. In fact, were it not for the subtle change of colors in both models, you will barely notice any difference. I landed my hands on the Silver-white iPhone 5S. I wouldn’t know much about the gold iPhone 5S, nor the black one, but then what’s different from the silver one really? Nothing except the colors. The iPhone 5S still has the old look, the touch and feel is awesome with a cold aluminum back, and a metal frame with chamfered edges. The home button which also houses the fingerprint sensor has a shiny metallic ring around it. The button completes the iPhone in a way to make it feel more compact.

the iphone 5s
The iPhone 5S buttons placement is not entirely similar to the iPhone norm, on the top of the phone is the power button and towards the left, you meet the volume up or down buttons.

volume buttons

 

On the far right, is the slot for the micro-sim well integrated into the metallic frame and not easily noticeable.At the bottom you will see the speakers, the USB cable slot for charging and the earphone jack.

earphone jack, speaker and usb slot for the iPhone 5S

I don’t understand the reason for Apple placing the earphone jack at the bottom of the phone. You would think they use their phones upside down. Wait, is there a rumor of Apple developing special jeans with upside down pockets? When should we expect this to be launched? Looking at the design of the iPhone 5S and its machinelike feel, I believe this was a careless decision made on a phone that emphasizes precision. However, a few of users I know claimed that this was not a problem because some of them actually place their phones upside down in their pockets, while others found it rather uncomfortable when they place the phone in the pocket the right way up with earphones on, felt like something poking their skin in the pockets.

THE BIG THING – A FINGER PRINT READER

To set up the fingerprint reader (Touch ID) you will need patience. You will have to set up to five prints so that you can use them for various purposes. Setting up the scanner wasn’t difficult at all, once you get used to it, you’re in. The Touch ID is fast. At first when I got the iPhone 5S I was wondering, “Who even needs this fingerprint stuff?” but honestly, after a few days of using it I keep telling myself, “phewks!! Thank God am done with passwords and Android unlock patterns!” I became so used to the reader by the second day. The letdown though is that the Touch ID feature doesn’t work for third-party applications. It was customized for Apple’s applications. I keep wishing I can just lock my Facebook, Payoneer or PayPal accounts. So that I don’t have to input passwords and usernames. Oh! And my Twitter?? If only I could lock my Twitter app so that I just tap on the fingerprint reader and get in, that would be awesome. But unfortunately it seems like Apple wants to restrict us to using their apps only. It’s impossible I know, but they seemingly don’t’.

iphone 5s in use

iPhone 5S has excellent design. The materials used are world-class and just like the iPhone 5, Apple has delivered a product that is much better, comfortable and warm in the hands. The finishes are a bit rougher and better than those of the iPhone 5 but nothing much to make a person who owns an iPhone 5 turn their head. The size and weight of the 5S is just the same as that of the 5 both weighing 112 grams.

Display

Just like old times in the iPhone 5, the 5S has a resolution of 326 ppi, it still is in the competing zone. The colors are more natural than most high end phones and the viewing angles are pretty much amazing. The disappointing bit, Apple should have known that its 2013, and most people no longer prefer a 4-inch screen. The small phones are kind of too old fashioned for this generation, we are definitely expecting Apple to make a phone with a bigger screen next time.

iphone 5s in use 1
The 640 x 1136 pixels display is still very enticing. The Galaxy S4 and HTC One definitely took the game to the next level in terms of display especially with their new HD displays. In spite of that vigorous competition, I find no fault with the display in iPhone 5S whatsoever. Personally, I found the colors in the iPhone 5S accurate, and the way they display the new OS, iOS7, is splendid.

Performance

iphone 5s frontOn the day of launching the iPhone 5S and 5C, Apple used the new A7 64-bit processor in the iPhone 5S as a major marketing feature. They insisted and persisted to convince us that the iPhone 5S was indeed new. Be that as it may, the new processor doesn’t perform any faster than the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C. Even so, it performed well in our benchmarks and it’s quite on its own level. The performance changes are more of hidden deep within for you as a normal user. It’s not a feature that will make anyone owning the iPhone 5 to be convinced that they need an upgrade. Multi-tasking is quite fast, and you will run your daily tasks without realizing any lags. The closest competition it can get is from the HTC One which is the master of speed in the Android world.

In the applications development, no developer expected a 64-bit processor. It came as a surprise to us and the developers too. It is going to take some time before app developers actually start to utilize the processor when they develop their apps. As for now, rest assured that no single application in the world is going to be heavy for the iPhone 5S. It can run each of them, because those applications were made for a simpler processor, like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One which use the Quad-core Snapdragon processors. I don’t mean to say that the One and S4 have slower processors, no. The S4 may have a slower processor than the One, but the One is nowhere near slow and it gives the IPhone 5S quite a run for its money.

The A7 “motion processor” knows when you haven’t used your phone in a while, it knows when you stop talking and start eating, it knows when you stop walking and start running, it knows when you get into a car, it understands everything you do. When you are sleeping it knows, and it won’t download any emails until you wake up. Nobody needs notifications while taking a nap anyway. The only other phone with this similar feature is the Moto X.

Software

For the very first time, we have seen a revamped iOS. It’s all new and refurbished. It’s hardly similar to the previous operating system, iOS6. Of course, how the icons look in general hardly changed, and some of the features too still exist. However, they are better and flatter than before. To add to that, there are like 200 new features and functionalities in iOS7.

iPhone 5S home
As much as the operating system looks fresh, and feels lighter; I have to admit that beating your way around the new iOS7 is not easy. Sometimes you may have to refer online (Apples Tips and Tricks) once in a while to get some functionalities right. It’s not a whole new OS as such, it’s just revamped, with new features. Using iOS7 brought me to the realization that iOS7 is extremely unpolished and unfinished. I am expecting that there will be upgrades to improve this OS and make it stable, mature and carrying excellent customer experience.

Camera

If there is something Apple got right this time around, it’s the integration of the hardware and software to make a better camera than most high-end smartphones in the market. The A7 processor can be felt here owing to the speed of the camera. Tap! and the camera is up and running. Another tap! and you have your photo in less than a second. Yes, really, less than a second … and I mean it. The first time I used the iPhone 5S, I was expecting the picture like 2 seconds later, as it was in the 5, but fact that the photo actually came out more than 2 seconds earlier is fantastic. Left me in utter surprise. The burst mode takes for instance, 5 pictures of the same shot, you can choose the best out of the five, and trash the other 4 if you want. Of course you should. You don’t want photos you’re not using in their gallery filling up phone space.

iPhone 5S photo

The camera is the usual 8 mega-pixels, with a front-facing 1.2 mega-pixels camera. However, the photo quality seems to be better due to an improved sensor, the sensor is larger than the one in iPhone 5 meaning each pixel picks up more light making the pictures taken in bright conditions extremely natural-looking with awesome color quality. It is however difficult to notice this difference when using the iPhone 5 and 5S in bright conditions. But you won’t mistake the way the photos look in low-light conditions. iPhone 5S offers what I can call a premium service when it comes to photography in low-light conditions thanks to its improved flash. Much brighter and better than iPhone 5. You can notice that the iPhone 5 barely does well in low-light conditions, photos are darker despite the presence of the flash. It’s hard to find a usable photo. That’s different here with the 5S producing better quality photos in low-light conditions.

You can now take slow motion videos, when you play the video it begins with a normal speed, to slow-mo and speeds up again at the end. Zooming during video-taking is now possible in the 5S, a new feature that Android phones have enjoyed ever since.

Mobile phones like the Nokia Lumia 1020 will offer you 41 Mega-pixels, that’s more than enough. For a photographer who doesn’t need so much in a camera, the 8MP in iPhone 5S is just good enough.

VIEW THE GALLERY TO SEE HOW IPHONE 5S PHOTOS LOOK LIKE

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Battery

Apple avoided talking about their battery much, that’s because there is no big jump. However, the 5S has a bigger battery than the 5, and it may last an hour longer than the 5. If you are the kind of person who gets email notifications all the time, or you like to go to the internet every 10 minutes, you will need to carry a charger with you wherever you go. Every time you are seated next to an electrical socket, or a computer, kindly take advantage of the opportunity. If you are the light-weight smartphone user, the battery will take you through the whole of your day.

iPhone 5S back

Call Quality and Internet speed

Dial 5S

I never experienced any drop call, even in the most uncertain locations with lazy networks. Don’t forget though, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is still the smartphone with the best call quality thanks to its tuneable call audio feature. The iPhone 5S is good in maintaining the network presence. The internet speeds are as smart as they have always been in previous iPhones.

UPSHOT

I have a strong feeling that things will get tougher in the specs wars for mobile phones. Since the release of the iPhone 5S, Galaxy S4, and the HTC One, several other phones have been released like the Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Round, HTC One Max Phablet, LG G2, Nokia Lumia 1020, among many more. The bottom line though is that each of these manufacturers is trying their level best to produce a phone with the best features. For as long as I can see, this competition will go on for long, and technological advancements are definitely going to be experienced. So we expect technology to change a lot in the coming times. Apple’s iPhone 5S is a smartphone that I can bet on to stand the test of time. One or two years from now, the iPhone 5S will still be relevant. Despite the competition, Apple have created a device that will stand the change of technological times.

The design is awesome. The new fingerprint scanner takes security to another level. We do not expect any less from Apple come 2014 when they release their new flagship phone. As we wait for the new Apple iPhone next year, I’ll be expecting Apple to change their design for once. The design in the 5S is pretty nice, but a change is good for a while. I am getting tired of the same “aluminum polish with chamfered metal frame” make. A 4-inch screen every single time also makes me sick. I want to challenge Apple to show us creativity, give us something that is just as good, but different. Apple please.., a bigger screen wouldn’t hurt!

The camera in the 5S is one major feature I cannot ignore. It’s proficient and almost near perfect. HTC One with its ultra-pixel camera compromised sharpness for low-light capability, the new Moto X traded quality for simplicity but Apple took a great camera and a great processor and provided just what will work for everyone; simplicity, quality, speed and sharpness in any light condition.

So what’s the bottom-line? Well, personally I love the iPhone 5S. But I want a bigger screen. HTC One offers all the packs that iPhone 5S offers except of course for the fingerprint reader and a better camera. If I wanted a smaller phone though, I would definitely go for the iPhone 5S. It’s the best phone of its kind in the market, faster, better, classy and simple. What’s your poison-a bigger phone or a smaller one? If you prefer the smaller one, iPhone 5S is the best you can get. Even with all these praises I have showered on the iPhone 5S, anyone owning the iPhone 5 will not convince me in any way as to why they would ditch the 5 to upgrade to the 5S because I don’t see much of a difference. If you are that person that likes to buy each new device that comes out, well, take the rush…this is for you.

All images courtesy of techpurge.com

8.4
The best iPhone yet, but not exactly flawless

Good Things

  • Excellent Performance and Speed
  • Superb Camera that integrates perfectly with the 64-bit A7 chip
  • The design is same old same old, but gorgeous

Bad Things

  • iOS 7 still feels unfinished
  • We could do with a brand new design
  • A small screen feels quite old-fashioned

The Breakdown


Design
9
Display
8
Performance
9
Camera
9
Software
8
Battery Life
8
Call Quality
8