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iPhone 5S review

Faster, new camera and a clever fingerprint reader. But is it enough of an upgrade?

Our Verdict

The best iPhone yet, featuring a great camera and the TouchID fingerprint sensor. The high price will put many off, but you'll find a lot of joy in this phone whether you're an iPhone fan or if you've been sitting on the fence. It's more than just an iterative update.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 64 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 10 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1136 x 640
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Powerful core
  • Touch ID is a real step up
  • Excellent camera

Against

  • Expensive
  • No screen tech change
  • Battery suspect

When it comes to applications the App Store on the iPhone 5S really only has one competitor in the form of Google Play, and it's fair to say that the App Store still comes out on top in terms of quality - if not quantity.

Apple confirmed it has over a million applications in its App Store, so there's plenty for you to choose from including business related content, fitness apps and games.

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The store itself is simple to navigate with various categories to drill down into to find the apps best suited to you, and the Top Charts shows you which ones are the most popular at the moment - and ultimately the ones which are worth downloading.

You can download a maximum of three applications simultaneously on the iPhone 5S, letting you get your favourite apps onto the phone even quicker.

If you select more than three to download the others will wait in the wings on your homescreen and will commence downloading when another has finished.

Apps such as Clock, Calendar, Weather, Calculator and Compass are all self explanatory, intuitive and have been given a visual reboot thanks to iOS 7.

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The Passbook app arrived with iOS 6 last year and provides you with a storage area for all your loyalty and gift cards, cinema tickets and airplane boarding passes.

Its scope is limited depending on which region you live in and there's only a handful of applications which current support the Passbook way of life - although most of the major airlines have tie ins with the service, as do the likes of Starbucks, AirBnB and yPlan.

Sadly the iPhone 5S lacks the necessary NFC hardware to take advantage of the new Apple Pay service, even though it does have Touch ID. You could always pair it with an Apple Watch if you want to try out easy contactless payments.

The new Health app is a real boon for fitness fanatics and the iPhone 5S has the M7 co-processor needed to take full advantage. It starts tracking your steps automatically and will sync with all kinds of third-party fitness apps and wearables. You can also pack in all sorts of other health related data, which could be very handy in an emergency.

Siri

Siri makes a return to the iPhone arena on the iPhone 5S and thanks to the iOS 7 update it's got a few new tricks up its sleeve - including the ability for you to choose whether it's a woman's or man's dulcet tones which ask you "what can I help you with?"

Just hold down the home button to activate Siri, or hold down the central button on the earpods cable if you're in need of some hands-free action.

In fact, now iOS 7.1 has landed you can hold down the home button and as long as it stays pressed Siri will listen. When you let go, the app will automatically start processing your request (and if it's voice dictation it's stunningly accurate) - and it's only going to get more intuitive with iOS 8.

iPhone 5S review

All the usual commands are present, from making a call and writing a text to setting a reminder to buy milk and finding out if you need to take an umbrella with you - because looking out of the window is difficult.

You can ask your virtual assistant to launch applications - although I found this a little unnecessary - and with the help of WolframAlpha you can ask poignant questions such as "how many days until Christmas?" or "how far away is the moon?" It's enlightening stuff.

I still think Siri just trumps the Google Now offering in Android, but it's usefulness varies from country to country (although that's something that's really up for debate with recent enhancements to Google Now) - with the best service available in the States where far more services are intertwined with the personal assistant.

Siri has become more useful with iOS 7, there's little disputing that, and the range of answers and information it can give is inching closer to day by day use. It's not great for some things, especially outside of the US, but I don't hate it as much any more. That's a win.

While Apple's own business orientated applications, aimed at taking on Microsoft's Office suite and Google Docs, don't come pre-installed on the iPhone 5S it's worth noting these apps are now available to download free on all newly purchased iPhones.

This means you can get access to Pages (a word processor), Keynote (a PowerPoint rival) and Numbers (basically Excel) free of charge, which will be a godsend for anyone looking to use the iPhone 5S for business. You'll also get iPhoto and iMovie for free too, and really does supercharge the iPhone when it comes to being a fully-formed device right out of the box.

All your documents are backed up to iCloud as well, meaning they'll be available on any of your iDevices or Macs - plus you can also access them via any web browser by going to the iCloud website.

Let's face it: if you want the best apps experience out there, then Apple still has it. While the top end of Android devices are pretty universal in their slick UI and power for apps, Google Play still has to deal with so much fragmentation.

Google has done a fantastic job at managing to overcome this problem, but its rare I'll download an app on an iPhone and an Android device and not be more impressed by the UI (if perhaps not always the functionality) on the iPhone or iPad.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBNo
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory64 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyiPhone 5s
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourSilver
Operating SystemiOS
Brand NameApple
Battery Talk Time10 Hour
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution1136 x 640
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)112 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerApple
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Backlight TechnologyLED
Operating System VersioniOS 7
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, iMessage
RealtoneYes
Call FeaturesCall Log
Pixel Density326 ppi
Height123.7 mm
Width58.7 mm
Depth7.6 mm
Radio TunerNo
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product NameiPhone 5s Smartphone
Processor Speed1.70 GHz
Product LineiPhone 5s
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Fingerprint Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberMF359X/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

Unrealized until now. Indispensable from now on.

A chip with 64-bit architecture. A fingerprint identity sensor. A better, faster camera. And an operating system built specifically for 64-bit. Any one of these features in a smartphone would make it ahead of its time. All of these features in a smartphone make it an iPhone that's definitely ahead of its time.

The gold standard. Also available in silver and gray.

iPhone 5s is precision crafted down to the micron. And it's evident throughout. The beautiful aluminum housing. The sleekness of metal and glass. Sapphire crystal in the Home button. And more sapphire crystal protecting the iSight camera. Design and construction of this level is unmatched. As a result, iPhone 5s looks and feels unbelievably thin and light. And it's available in three elegant expressions: gold, silver, and space gray.

Package Contents
  • iPhone 5s Smartphone
  • EarPods with Remote and Mic
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • 5W USB Power Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year