iPhone 5S full review

Welcome to our iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S article, where we'll be putting two generations of Apple's flagship iPhone head-to-head. The iPhone 5s has some impressive new features, including a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, an A7 chip and an improved camera. But is it worth the upgrade? We've compared the iPhone 5's features with the new features found in the iPhone 5S, to help you decide.

Apple unveiled its iPhone 5S on 10 September, but also announced that it would be ditching the iPhone 5 in favour of a new iPhone 5C. While you can no longer buy the iPhone 5 from Apple, those of you who own the iPhone 5 might be trying to decide whether it's worth upgrading to the new iPhone 5S.

If you do decide to buy an iPhone 5s, though, you might have some difficulty getting your hands on one right away. Apple sold out of iPhone 5s units very quickly on launch day, and says that "demand for iPhone 5s has exceeded initial supply."

For advice on how to get a gold iPhone in the UK, read this article: How to get iPhone 5s in UK: 5 ways to beat the gold iPhone 5s shortage

It seems that the iPhone 5s, and Apple's new iPhone 5c, have proved to be popular Apple launches. Opening sales smashed the iPhone 5's record of 5 million sales within the first three days, with a total of 9 million sales reported.

Read on to find out what's new in the iPhone 5S compared to the iPhone 5. Plus, you can check out our iPhone 5s review for more details.

[Read about how Apple's iPhone compares to the other phones launched at Mobile World Congress]

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S: design

In terms of design, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S look very similar. As with previous iPhone 'S' model launches, the iPhone 5S has an almost identical chassis to the iPhone 5, but there is now a new Gold colour option, and the black model is now called 'Space Grey' and is a little lighter than the Black & Slate version of the iPhone 5.

One noticable difference between the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5 is the Home button. Thanks to the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor (more on that below) the iPhone 5S now has a metallic ring around the Home button, and doesn't have the square shape in the middle.

The dimensions and weight are identical: both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 are 59 x 124mm, 7.6mm thick and weigh 112g according to Apple.

In fact, the same external design means that you'll be able to use the same cases that fit the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S: specifications

The display

Both the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S have the same 4in Retina display, at a resolution of 640 x 1136 and a pixel density of 326ppi. We find the display on the iPhone 5s to be sometimes fractionally less responsive to our fingertip touch, but we feel that this could be down to changes in the software code of iOS 7.

The processor

The iPhone 5 has an A6 chip, but the new iPhone 5S has a 64-bit A7 chip that's apparently double the speed. Apple has said that the CPU performance from the first iPhone to iPhone 5S has increased by 40 times.

Version 2 of the popular benchmark application Geekbench rated our iPhone 5 with around 1660 points. The same app puts the iPhone 5s at an average of around 2240 points - so that’s about a 35 percent increase in point score at least.

Version 3 of Geekbench includes separate single- and multi-core processor measurements. We saw 724 points from the iPhone 5 in single mode, and 1409 points for the 5s - nearly double, actually a 95 percent increase.

In the Geekbench 3 multi-core test, the point scores rose from 1298 to 2556, similarly almost two-fold; a 97 percent score boost.

The iPhone 5s’s Geekbench score is more than twice that of the iPhone 5c. Last year’s iPhone 5, however, was about 10 percent faster than the new 5c in this test.

In addition to the A7 chip, the iPhone 5S has a brand new part called M7. It's a motion co-processor, which takes advantage of all of the sensors and continuously measures the data coming from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass without having to wake up the A7. This will open up lots of new opportunities for fitness apps, so expect to see an abundance of new fitness apps and updates soon.

The M7 is one of Apple's strategies to prolong battery life. To offload some of the low-level background duties, which nonetheless would keep the main CPU busy enough to deny it power nap moments the M7 chip’s role is to process incoming sensor data from the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope, some of the components that give the phone its orientation. 

Touch ID fingerprint sensor

The iPhone 5S's new fingerprint sensor, called the Touch ID, is built in to the device's Home button. It's a brand new feature that the iPhone 5 doesn't have, so could help you make your decision between the two phones. It can be used to unlock the device and authenticate your Apple ID for iTunes Store, App Store and iBookstore payments.

We found that the Touch ID works surprisingly well. It's easy to set up, and after just an hour of using the iPhone 5s with the fingerprint sensor technology, we naturally tried to do the same on our iPhone 5, only to realise that we couldn't! It's time saving, and feels really cool, too.

Your fingerprint can also be used to buy stuff from the App Store - music, apps and videos. How long before it becomes secure and trusted enough to even part-authenticate real cash payments with other merchants is another question. You can still type in your actual password if you'd prefer.

See: Apple's Touch ID may not be bullet proof, but it's still useful

Battery life

As for battery life, Apple claims that the iPhone 5S has an "equal or better" battery life than the iPhone 5. That means 10 hours of talk time on 3G networks, up to 10 hours of web browsing on WiFi and LTE network or up to 8 hours on 3G networks, up to 10 hours of video playback or 40 hours of audio playback.

In some of our tests, the iPhone 5s actually performed quite significantly better than the iPhone 5. Our battery life looping video test showed that the iPhone 5s can last almost 90 minutes longer than the iPhone 5, at 11.03 hours.

However, in other tests, the iPhone 5  lasted for something close to 48 hours between charges, after a routine that typically comprises 4 hours of web surfing combined with playing music through earphones; a few dozen text messages per day; ditto Mail message writing, sending and reading; some GPS sensor use from Apple Maps; and various other minor app usage, including two overnight stretches of 7 hours phone sleep.

With the iPhone 5s and effectively the same usage pattern, the phone would last a little less than 36 hours, including two overnight dormant spells. Fewer hours of battery runtime is a shame. 


As was the case with the iPhone 5, there are still three capacities of the iPhone 5S available: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.


For keen iPhone photographers, the iPhone 5S has had a significant camera boost. While still featuring an 8-megapixel iSight camera like the iPhone 5's, the iPhone 5S has a new five-element Apple-designed lens with a larger f/2.2 aperture.

The camera's new sensor has a 15 per cent larger active area, and the pixels on this sensor are 1.5 microns in size, larger than the iPhone 5 and larger than other smartphones. This should mean better sensitivity and improved low-light performance.

The iPhone 5's single LED flash has been replaced by a dual-LED flash on the iPhone 5S. This new 'True Tone Flash' features one cool LED and one warmer one, which aims to give you the right colour flash for the situation you're in. Apple says that the flash has over 1,000 colour combinations, which should mean a more natural appearance when the flash is used.

That's not all, either. Apple has also designed iOS 7's camera app to take advantage of the new iPhone 5S's improved hardware and imaging capabilities. Apple promises up to two-times faster auto-focus, faster photo capture, automatic image and video stabilisation and better dynamic range, too. 

Apple has also designed the Camera app in iOS 7 to take advantage of the new camera and the A7 chip's imaging capabilities. For example, before you take a picture, the iPhone 5s will perform auto white balance and auto exposure, and will create a dynamic local tone map around the image to get better highlights and shadows. The camera actually takes multiple images and analyses them in real time to see which is the sharpest.

New modes include Burst Mode and Slo-Mo video, and there's also a new FaceTime HD camera that Apple says provides better low-light performace. While the Burst Mode is available on the iPhone 5 it cannot take the 10 photos per second of the iPhone 5s. 

On the video side, faster processing allows the camera in the iPhone 5s to capture more frames every second when filming. Switch to Slo Mo in the camera app and it shoots at 120 frames per second - then replays at a more familiar 30 fps, giving the illusion of slow-motion. Where normal video is shot in full-HD, Slo Mo captures 1280 x 720-pixel video.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S: iOS 7

The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S are both  able to run iOS 7, but there are some features that won't work on the older models. 

Find out everything you need to know about iOS 7 in our iOS 7 review.

Plus, master iOS 7 using our 40 iOS 7 tips.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S: price

iPhone 5s tariffs and pricing: Best Apple's iPhone 5s contract

The iPhone 5 would set you back £529 for the 16GB model, £599.99 for the 32GB model and £699 for the 64GB model. The iPhone 5S costs a little more, at £549 for the 16GB model, £629 for the 32GB model and £709 for the 64GB model.

As well as the iPhone 5S, Apple also unveiled the iPhone 5C at its 10 September event, which is priced a little cheaper. Find out more about the iPhone 5C in our review.

Read our comparison reviews of the various iPhones below: 

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C comparison review

iPhone 5c v iPhone 5 comparison review

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