While much of the recent discussion about the new iPhone 5s and 5c has been about colors and availability, the Macworld Lab has been busy thinking about the new iPhones' performance. We put our brand new iPhone 5s and 5c to the test and found that the devices to live up to--and in some cases surpass--Apple's marketing claims.
While many things about the new iPhones are similar to last year's iPhone 5 (including the 4-inch screen, 1136 by 640 pixel resolution, and storage capacity), there are a number of under-the-hood changes that range from subtle to startling.
The iPhone 5s features a brand new 64-bit A7 processor running at 1.3GHz. The iPhone 5c is powered by Apple's A6 processor that was introduced in last year's iPhone 5. Apple says the new A7 chip is up to twice as fast as the A6 in both processing and graphics. Interestingly, most of tests we ran show the iPhone 5s to be twice as fast as the iPhone 5c, but the 5c proved to be a bit slower than last year's iPhone 5 with the same 1.3GHz A6 processor.
The iPhone 5s's Geekbench score was more than twice that of the iPhone 5c. Last year's iPhone 5, however, was 10 percent faster than the new 5c in this test. The iPhone 5s score was six times that of the score of the iPhone 4S.
I thought it might be interesting to see how the new iPhones stood up against a couple of popular Android phones, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Even though those Android phones use quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, the A7-powered iPhone 5s earned a Geekbench 3 Multi-Core score that was 33 percent higher than the Galaxy S4 and 65 percent higher than the HTC One. The iPhone 5s score was more than twice that of the Android phones in the Geekbench single-core tests. The Galaxy S4's single-core score was almost identical to that of the iPhone 5c, but the S4 was 58 percent faster in the multi-core tests than the A6-powered 5c.
We saw some big differences using GFXBench 2.7's T-Tex C24Z16 1080p offscreen test. The iPhone 5s was able to push 25 frames per second, more than 3.5 times the number of frames the iPhone 5c. In this test, the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5 scores were indentical. The iPhone 4S couldn't even manage 3 frames per second. The T-Rex onscreen test, which runs at the native resolution of the device, had all of the iPhones displaying higher frame rates. The iPhone 5s, which scored 37 frames per second, was just shy of the three times as fast as the 5c's 13 fps. The iPhone 5 was one frame per second faster than the iPhone 5c.
The Android phones scored around 15 frames per second in both sets of the T-Rex tests. The T-Rex onscreen results were very similar to the iPhone 5 and 5c results, but not close to the 37 frames per second the iPhone 5s posted. The offscreen T-Rex results found the Androids pushing more than twice as many frames as the iPhone 5 and 5c, but 10 frames per second less than the iPhone 5s.
In the less-taxing Eqypt test from GFXBench 2.5, the iPhone 5s was still significantly faster than the 5c and iPhone 5, but didn't quite break through the 2x barrier. Again, the Android phones scored similarly to the iPhone 5 and 5c in the oncreen Egypt tests. Offscreen, the HTC One and the Samsung S4 were 10 frames faster than the 5 and 5c, but around 15 frames per second slower than the iPhone 5s.
The iPhone 5s was surprisingly long-lived. Clocking in at over 11 hours in our looping video test, the 5s lasted nearly 90 minutes longer than the iPhone 5 running iOS 7. The iPhone 5c lasted an impressive 10 hours and 19 minutes. Comparing these results to some of the Android competition, the Samsung Galaxy S4 made it to 7 hours in the same tests, while the HTC One lasted just 6 hours and 44 minutes. The iPhone 5s was not able to unseat our top battery performer, the Droid Razr Maxx that recently lasted 13 hours 28 minutes in our video looping battery test.