iPhone 5s full review
Now we'll take a look at the iPhone 5s specification, as we continue our iPhone 5s review.
iPhone 5s review: iPhone 5s specs
At a glance the iPhone 5s specs are as follows:
- A7 chip with 64-bit architecture
- M7 motion coprocessor
- UK 4G: LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25)
- Touch ID fingerprint scanner
- 4in Retina display with 1136x640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi, and 800:1 contrast ratio
- 8MP camera with 1.5µ pixels and f/2.2 aperture
- 1080p HD video recording at 30fps, plus Slo-mo video
- 1.2MP FaceTime camera, 720p video recording
Read on for more in-depth information about battery life, storage capacity, and screen size.
iPhone 5s review: Battery life
More power typically demands more power from the battery pack. Apple has several strategies to deal with this most fundamental of issues for today's mobile devices.
To offload some of the low-level background duties, which nonetheless would keep the main CPU busy enough to deny it power nap moments, an additional coprocessor has been added to the iPhone 5s. The M7 chip's given role is to process incoming sensor data from the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope, some of the components that give the phone its orientation.
So iOS 7's wallpaper parallax effect, where the background image seems to slide behind as you wiggle the phone, is driven by the M7 chip. And with the current fad in fitness and health monitoring apps built for the iPhone, Apple has spotted a new usage area that can be improved, without impinging so much on the phone's essential battery longevity.
There's also been a tiny swell in battery capacity, from 5.45 to 5.92 Wh. How does this 8.6 percent increase relate to real-world battery life? Apple says it's added two hours on its runtime when browsing over 4G.
That promised improvement is probably as much due to the change of cellular RF chipset, which should now enable an iPhone 5s to work across any upcoming 4G LTE service in the UK. As well as roam across more next-gen networks when you're travelling beyond these shores.
In our battery tests the iPhone 5s clocked in over 11 hours in our looping-video test, which is 90 minutes longer than the iPhone 5 running iOS 7. The iPhone 5c lasted slightly less than the 5s, at 10 hours, 19 minutes.
Comparing these results to those of some of the Android competition at the time the iPhone 5s launched, the Samsung Galaxy S4 made it to 7 hours in the same tests, while the HTC One lasted just 6 hours, 44 minutes. (We will update this when we have the battery test results for the Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8).
It should be noted that anyone who feels that their iPhone battery life is poor should follow the advice in this article, which condenses into the following: close apps that are running in the background (especially Facebook, which has been identified as particularly battery guzzling); turn off location services; turn down brightness; and turn off Bluetooth.
iPhone 5s review: Storage
Colour aside, there are three options when it comes to choosing your iPhone 5s. The 16GB model, the 32GB model or the 64GB model? Apple is unusual in that it doesn't offer the option of adding extra storage – many alternative smartphones offer users the opportunity to pop an SD card into a slot and thereby increase storage. For this reason many alternative smartphones are only available in 16GB versions. At this 16GB level there is a crucial difference between the iPhone and other smartphones – namely the amount of storage that is actually available to the user. After the operating system has been installed, the iPhone 5s with 16GB will actually offer 12.20GB of space, while the iPhone 5c offers slightly more at 12.6GB. In comparison the Samsung Galaxy S4 offers only 8.56GB thanks to the size of the Android operating system and all the irremovable bloatware that Samsung installs.
The jump in price between each capacity of iPhone 5s is £80 if you are purchasing the model off contract, from Apple (as opposed to getting the phone on contract from your network provider). The 16GB model costs £549, the 32GB is £629, and the 64GB model is £709.
There are a number of factors to consider when making the decision of how much storage to go for, and price is only one of these, although we would advise paying the extra £80 to get the 32GB model as opposed to the 16GB version, because with only 16GB available a number of measures are necessary to ensure that you don't frequently fill your storage up with apps and photos.
That said, it is possible to survive with just 16GB of storage on an iPhone because Apple has made it possible not to have everything you might need actually stored on your iPhone.
For example, on our 16GB iPhone 5s we have 339 songs, 120 photos, and 104 applications and 2.8GB still available. We get by because we have signed up for iTunes in the Cloud, which means that if there is a song in our collection that we want to play on our phone we can download it from iCloud. We delete apps that we don't use, knowing that we will be able to download them again for free should we ever want them back. We use Photo Stream to automatically make the photos and we take on our iPhone available in iPhoto on our Macs and if we choose to, we can easily back the photos up on the Mac just by right clicking on the images. To find out what the true storage capacity of your iPhone is, read this article.
It is also possible to link an iPhone up to an external storage device that connects to your device via Wi-Fi, such as the Kingston Wi-Drive (RRP: 64GB, £89.99; 32GB, £59.99 – prices are currently discounted on Amazon though). These types of device are ideal if you are heading off on holiday and wish to take a collection of movies with you to watch. Install the media on the device and you will be able to stream it to your iPhone. It may to buy the 16GB iPhone and add the extra storage in the form of one of these external storage devices, rather than pay £160 more to get the 64GB iPhone.
The price you pay will entirely depend on the contract you sign up for. Some people buy an iPhone upfront because they already have a good contract that they don't wish to part with. Others prefer to hunt around for the best deal from the various phone networks and spread the cost over a year or two. You may find that there is little difference in the amount you will be paying each month if you choose a higher capacity model. We'll look more closely at the price of the iPhone later in this review.
iPhone 5s review: Display
The display is the same as that used on the iPhone 5: 4in (diagonal), 1136 x 640 pixel at 326 ppi Retina resolution. It's sharp and colour-rich, bright and beautiful
However, while the screen on the iPhone 5s is great, we still find ourselves looking at the larger screens on the phones of competitors with growing envy. The HTC One M8 has a 5in-diagonal, 1080 x 1920 pixel display at 441ppi, for example. While the Samsung Galaxy S5 offers a 5.1in, 1080 x 1920 at 432ppi screen.
Screen-size is a purely personal preference, you may find a bigger display better if you are attempting to watch movies or edit Word documents on the screen, but note that Apple had a couple of reasons to stick with 4.7in display. At launch Apple claimed that the 4.7in display was the best size for one handed use – it is quite comfortable to hold it in one hand and reach all parts of the screen, this is ideal if you are a commuter hanging onto a handrail. Apple's CEO Tim Cook also said that there were too many trade offs in using a bigger screen, these tradeoffs likely to be screen quality and battery demand. Perhaps by the time the iPhone 6 launches Apple will have been able to address these issues in a way that it feels meets its exacting standards but in the meantime, we think that the 4.7in screen on the iPhone is much less of a trade off than switching to any Android or Windows phone would be.
And if you are upgrading from an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s the bigger screen on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c is a great reason to update. (And to be honest, it's about time!)