iPhone 5s full review

What about the iPhone 5s design and build quality? Read the next page of our iPhone 5s review to find out.

iPhone 5s review: Design & build quality

One benefit of a smaller screen is that the iPhone itself is smaller and lighter. At 112g and 7.6mm thick, it's lighter and thinner than any other leading smartphone including the HTC One M8  (9.35mm, 160g), and Samsung Galaxy S5 (8.1mm/145g). The dimensions are so similar to the iPhone 5 that you can use most iPhone 5 cases on the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s is slimmer and lighter than the iPhone 5c (132g/8.97mm) and the iPhone 4s (140g/9.3mm).  

Other than storage (discussed above), the other factor to consider when purchasing a new iPhone is colour. For the iPhone 5s Apple introduced a new gilt-free option it's calling Gold - gold-effect back and edges with white glass trim. There's the Silver option resembling last year's white/silver iPhone 5. And the most sober of three is the black and grey model, dubbed Space Grey. It's like the original black iPhone 5, only with a lighter shade of graphite to its back and edges. Front on, that's two white models, and one black model. The main difference between the white models is the ring of steel around the TouchID button (which is gold or silver accordingly).

iPhone 5s colour options

Before the launch of the iPhone 5s there were jokes a-plenty about this rumoured gold iPhone, with many fearing it would be too bling and make Apple the laughing stock. But the gold has proven to be a popular choice. As you would expect from Apple's design guru, UK-born (Sir) Jonathan Ive, the gold iPhone is gorgeous.

The Silver and Space Grey versions are also popular, indeed, according to reports, the iPhone 5s has proven more popular than the slightly less expensive iPhone 5c (probably because there is only  £80 difference between the 16GB and 32GB models).

Of course, most people will put their iPhone in a case, which does rather hide the design, but such a high price product does deserve to be treated carefully (and keeping it free of scratches might help you sell it on eBay one day if you wanted to upgrade to a newer iPhone). The same external design means that you'll be able to use the same cases that fit the iPhone 5. Apple did unveil some new iPhone 5s leather cases if you fancy something new, though. Macworld managed to get a closer look at the leather cases during the Apple event, but found that they didn't look or feel very leathery at all. They do, however, fit super snugly (which can be a pain if you want to remove it). Check out our best cases for iPhone 5s round-up for more.

Apple's iPhone 5s cases

Construction is the same as the iPhone 5 with the same aluminium body with the aluminosilicate glass front (Gorilla Glass), and glass inset top-and-bottom behind. This toughened glass is supposed to be better able to resist deep scratches and hard enough that a thin sheet to be used without risking breakage.

However, as many an iPhone owner knows, Gorilla Glass is not unbreakable. Drop the iPhone on the floor without any form of protection and you may be unlucky enough to break it. So many smashed iPhones are bought into Apple Stores around the world that Apple has equipped some stores with machinery that allows them to mount a new screen and give the iPhone a new lease of life. Knowing this it is not surprising that Apple is said to be looking to a new form of glass for the iPhone 6, with rumours suggesting that the company is investing heavily in Sapphire Glass for that product.

Note that iPhones are by no means the only smartphones that suffer from broken screens, but Apple is the only company that offers to fix the phone for you in its high street stores (at least in the US). If you are in the UK you will probably have to send the phone off for repair, and either way it will cost you money, but Apple has a lot of procedures in place that are designed to repair or replace broken iPhones so it is worth bearing that in mind if you are particularly clumsy (as is signing up for AppleCare+ – which will let you break your phone twice during the duration of the AppleCare+ plan).  Read more about Apple's policies for replacing smashed and damaged iPhones here.  

iPhone 5s review: Operating system

If you already own an iPhone, and have invested a lot in the iOS App Store and in iTunes, then staying within the iPhone ecosystem is a no brainer. You may feel tempted by the smartphones on offer from the likes of HTC and Samsung, but remember that you will not be able to run iOS versions of apps on them. Even if you are able to download the same app from the Google Play store or the Android Market you will lose any saved data within your version.

You may also want to bear in mind that more apps are written for iOS than any other platform. Even as Android becomes more popular as an operating system app developers are continuing to write apps first for iOS, and sometimes, only for iOS. This is because it's been proven that iOS users spend more money on apps.

As an iPhone user you may already be using iOS 7. The way you feel about the new Apple operating system will, no doubt, depend on the iPhone you are running it on. Those with an iPhone 4 or 4s may be finding some aspects of the new iOS to cause their phones to slow down – if that is the case, expect iOS 7 to run much smoother on the iPhone 5s. If you are using iOS 7 on an iPhone 5 you will also see improvements, and additional features (such as those in the Camera app).

iOS 7 on the iPhone 5s

If you don't currently have an iPhone, but do have an iPad it may make sense to remain with an operating system you are familiar with. We would recommend any iPad owner who has never owned a smartphone purchases an iPhone of any generation to avoid the confusion of multiple operating systems.

We're not going to try and convince Android fans to buy an iPhone  – no doubt they will fill the comments with claims of superiority. We know of many Android smartphone users who are frustrated by what they find to be a complicated operating system and additional 'bloat-ware' that is installed on the device and cannot be removed.

The battle between the Android and iPhone fan has almost reached the levels of the old PC Mac battle of the nineties and on either side there are loud voices. We're obviously iPhone fans here at Macworld, but we work closely with our colleagues on PC Advisor and Tech Advisor, who keep us informed about the developments in the smartphone space.

iPhone 5s review: UK price

There are three flavours of iPhone 5s available directly from Apple. You can order online or walk into any Apple Store to buy one. You can choose any of the three colour at any of the following capacities.

- The 16GB version costs £549

- The 32GB version costs £629

- The 64GB version costs £709

Best iPhone 5S deals UK

To find out about the best iPhone 5S deals in the UK, visit our best iPhone 5S deals round-up.

Which iPhone?

When Apple unveiled the iPhone 5s it also launched the slightly cheaper iPhone 5c. Wondering which iPhone to buy? Watch our video where we look at the features of the five most recent iPhones.

You can also read our iPhone 5c review and our iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C comparison review.

You can find comparison reviews where we pitch the iPhone 5s against competing smartphones here, including HTC One M8 versus iPhone 5s, LG G2 versus iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5s versus Galaxy S5. Expect the comments to be a bit heated...

Read more about the competition to the iPhone 5s here.

Watch us compare the iPhone 5s and HTC One M8...

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