- Touch ID is very well executed
- Impressive camera
- Excellent performance
- Still the easiest smartphone to use
- No real design upgrade
- Still waiting for a bigger screen
- iOS7 is still playing catch-up
- No real improvement to battery life
The Apple iPhone 5s is a great overall smartphone, but it's not enough of an upgrade from the iPhone 5 to justify a purchase.
With every “S” release of the iPhone, there really are no surprises — every numerical revision comes with the expected improvements in speed, camera performance, and at least one special feature. The 3GS boosted speed, while the 4S brought in an 8-megapixel camera, and Siri.
The 5s brings similar upgrades. Building off of last year’s iPhone 5, the 5s brings overall improvements in speed and camera quality. Its ace feature, however, is its fingerprint sensor, dubbed Touch ID.
Is this enough to the best phone in the market? Is it even worth upgrading from your iPhone 5? Let’s find out!
Build and Design
Just like all the “S” iPhone upgrades, the iPhone 5s doesn’t have any major design changes compared to the iPhone 5, aside from some new colors. White and silver are still available, but now Apple has introduced “space gray,” which is more or less the black iPhone with silver edges, and gold. The latter isn’t exactly made of gold; it’s just a different tint to a layout like those found on the white and silver models. Some people will love it, and some will hate it, but it’s good to have choices either way.
The iPhone 5s retains the iPhone 5’s aluminum frame, chamfered edges, and even weight and dimensions, weighing just 3.9 ounces, and measuring 4.9 x 2.3 x 0.3 inches. It’s pretty much a carbon copy of the iPhone 5, and most people won’t even be able to tell the difference at first glance.
There are a few subtle differences aside from the different color variations, though. On the front, the “Home” button doesn’t feature the familiar white square anymore, as it’s now been replaced with the fingerprint sensor. On the back, the flash looks a little bit different because it has been upgraded with a “True Tone” flash for improved white balance.
Even though the iPhone 5s is nearly identical to the 5, it’s still one of the best looking phones out on the market today, with a sleek industrial design that’s easy to use with one hand. The only other phone that can compete with its design, in my opinion, is the HTC One.
Many were disappointed with the iPhone 5’s slight increase in screen size from 3.5-inches to 4-inches. Many had begged Apple to provide a bigger screen for years, but four inches was still nowhere near what other rival smartphones offered. The iPhone 5s has the exact same size, with a 1136 x 640 resolution Retina display.
Now, this isn’t a terrible thing, as the Retina Display remains one of the best on the market. Text is sharp, pictures look great, the touchscreen is responsive, and video is as good as it gets on a 4-inch display. However, if you look displays like the HTC One’s 4.7-inch, 1080p screen, it totally dwarfs the iPhone’s. Those looking for a larger screen should still look elsewhere.
Fingerprint scanners have been tried on phones before. The Motorola Atrix 4G had one, and it was cumbersome, gimmicky, and pretty much useless. This type of technology doesn’t even work well on a laptop, so why put one on an iPhone? Well, surprisingly, Apple hits the mark with the iPhone 5s’ Touch ID.
The iconic Home Button now pulls double duty as the iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner. Its setup is effortless and takes about a minute. It involves placing a finger on the sensor/Home Button multiple times and at different angles. It is then associated with the unlock code and your App Store password.
Once that’s done, users can unlock the phone and make app and music purchases with just a thumbprint. There’s no need to slide to unlock, enter a pin-code or use a password, making the process extremely simple. Touch ID can register up to 5 different prints.
Touch ID is actually really smart in that the more it’s used, the better it works. In fact, users can unlock phones with fingerprints at different angles so they don’t have to scan it at perfect alignment, making it much more convenient.
The only issue with Touch ID is that there is currently no third-party support for such a refined technology. So far the only two uses are just unlocking your phone and authenticating app and music purchases. Making Touch ID capable of letting you log into other websites and apps would better round out the feature.