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[Review] iPhone 5s



iPhone 5s Silver

Here is my review of the iPhone 5s – the silver version with 64GB of storage (56.4GB actually available). Upon un-boxing it and weighing it in my hand it is considerably lighter and smaller than my Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and it does take a bit of getting used to at first. You almost need to squint at the iPhone display at first, but after a few days playing and toying around with it, I seem to have gotten used to it.

What’s New on the iPhone 5s

The iPhone 5s now sports a 64-bit architecture A7 CPU, a fingerprint sensor embedded into the home screen button, a better camera and some new software (iOS 7) which is built for 64-bit iPhones.

Specs

Apple are known for not disclosing a lot of the spec side of things on the iPhone, but nevertheless, the iPhone 5s has a 1GB of RAM, a 64-bit A7 CPU with a M7 motion co-processor,  dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS and GLONASS, a 4″ Retina display (1136×640 at 326ppi), an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with 1080p Full HD video recording and a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera with 720p HD video recording.

Now this may not be exactly top-of-the-line stuff compared to some other phones, but the way Apple has incorporated everything so nicely in the user experience (UX) makes the iPhone seem a lot easier and seamless to use, not to mention there is no custom customisation, thus not making the phone slow because of a few tweaks here and there.

Display

The iPhone 5s still uses Apple’s signature display – the Retina display, with a resolution of 1136×640 at 326ppi. While this is not the phone with the highest amount of ppi (pixels per inch) the colours on the iPhone 5s’ screen do look very crisp, sharp and vibrant.

On another note, the Apple iPhone 5s page does say “Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on front”. This “oleophobic” coating is supposedly a special coating that helps prevent oil from either the face or your fingers get onto your screen. The iPhone 5s’ front display however, did have smudges and fingerprints all over the screen from first use (unfortunately, you just can’t wash your hands all the time, everywhere). The oleophobic coating is said to wear out, but smudges were seen when the iPhone 5s was first used.

Calling

Call quality on the iPhone 5s was reasonable; not exceptional quality, but not poor quality either, so it can be said as just right!

Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor

iPhone 5s Touch ID

The Touch ID fingerprint sensor is one of the new features added onto the iPhone 5s. The sensor is located inside the home screen button, and is protected by sapphire crystal. The ring around the button also has a sensor that detects when your finger is placed on top of it, and tells the fingerprint sensor to start reading your fingerprint. Setting up the fingerprint sensor was pretty straight-forward. If you can read English and follow instructions, you will have no trouble at all setting it up.

Touch ID can also be used instead of typing in your password/passcode when making purchases off the App Store or iTunes store or on your unlock screen, but you will need to type in your password/passcode every time you reboot the device, or if you haven’t used Touch ID for 48 hours. However, sometimes when I try to use Touch ID, it couldn’t recognise my fingerprint for some reason, and so I had to type in the passcode instead. I think this is because my hand/finger may have been a bit sweaty and so the sensor didn’t recognise my print. At least we know it is pretty secure! Apple also claims that none of this fingerprint information is stored anywhere else other than on your iPhone 5s. This means that it is not uploaded onto any of Apple’s servers nor is it uploaded into iCloud. Plus, the Touch ID sensor is said to know the difference between live tissue and dead tissue, so you can’t just chop off someone’s finger to unlock your phone!

The Brains…

Apple A7 and M7 chips

The iPhone 5s comes with a faster CPU – the A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and a GPU that has improved quite a lot! The M7 motion co-processor is able to monitor the 5s’ sensors – accelerometer, gyroscope, compass etc. without putting a huge dent on battery life, and without putting a heavy load on the CPU itself thus saving battery life!

Camera

iPhone 5s camera

The iPhone 5s’ camera is said to be a huge improvement over its predecessor. Even though the pixels remain the same (8-megapixels), the pixel size has gotten bigger, which according to Dan Riccio (Apple’s Senior Vice President and Hardware Engineering) this means a “better picture.” You can decide if that’s true…

Test Photo 2

Click here to view my original-quality photos taken on the iPhone 5s…

The iPhone 5s camera has a 15% larger 8 megapixel sensor over its predecessor, and has a 33% increase in light sensitivity, resulting in a f/2.2 (aperture).

What is also new about the iPhone 5s’ camera, is their new flash system called True Tone. According to Apple, the True Tone flash allows the iPhone 5s to determine just the right percentage and intensity of white light versus amber light thanks to its two LEDs – one white and one amber. This is supposedly supposed to make your photos a lot more crisp and colours more natural.

As a side note, the camera doesn’t have any manual control at all, meaning you can’t manually adjust the exposure or the ISO etc, which is still great for regular photo-takers because the “automatic” mode will probably do the job just fine!

Other camera modes include Square mode – shoot images to a square format, and Panorama mode – a wide landscape photo!

Video Recording

The iPhone 5s has the usual Full HD 1080p video recording with a bit of marketing spice here and there! My favourite feature about the video recording on this device is the new slow-motion effect. This is not the first device to have slow-motion recording capabilities, in fact this technology has been out quite a while ago!

iPhone 5s Slo-Mo

The slo-mo feature lets you capture video at 120 frames-per-second in 720p. Once you’re done capturing, you then move on to selecting the part to which you want it to be in slow-motion, then the 5s does the rest. Unfortunately, you can’t move that slo-mo clip onto your computer without there being some consequences. If you try to get it off iTunes on your computer, the clip will be in the original shot format and not in slo-mo. If you try email the clip to yourself, it will compress the video, meaning the video quality will degrade significantly. Therefore you will have to use an app from the App Store that will save the slo-mo in your video clip permanently. I am trying out the TruSloMo app by William Wu, which lets you save the slo-mo clip permanently onto your device. Again, a drawback is that if you need to adjust the ending of the slo-mo on that app, you will have to upgrade for about $2. I’m surprised Apple didn’t think of something like this for it to be built-in to the phone!

If you want to find out more about the features on the iPhone 5s camera, please visit: http://www.apple.com/nz/iphone-5s/camera/

Battery Life

If I don’t use 3G, I can just about manage a day and a half on a single charge battery, but if I do use 3G, it normally lasts me half a day, probably because I use it more often when I’m out than when I’m not out, but of course, battery life is a very vague topic to talk about, without knowing all the specific details about what goes on in each phone – every phone is different!

Conclusion

Overall, the iPhone 5s is a very nice addition to the iPhone line of phones as it packs a bigger punch than the rest of the “s” or “gs” series, and coupled with iOS 7, they both really do go well with each other! The new Touch ID feature was very easy to set up but it sometimes had problems identifying my finger. We now look forward to the launch of the next iPhone device!

*Most pictures shown here are courtesy of Apple.