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iPhone 5S review

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

The iPhone 5S is nothing more than the 5 when it comes to calling, but with iOS 7 on board as well as a few more LTE bands, it means that it can function on pretty much any next-gen network around the world.

If you're in the UK, this means that you'll be able to connect to 4G on the likes of Vodafone, O2 and Three when their services are all up and running without a worry – something that will have been a hindrance to those wanting to connect to the super speeds with an iPhone 5.

iOS 7 1 review

I tested the iPhone 5S on EE's network in the UK, and was mightily impressed with the results - which makes sense, given 4G is all fast and that.

When there's a full signal, the phone is blisteringly quick over 4G, although when a couple of bars (or spots, now we're in iOS 7 territory) drop off, the speeds can slacken quite measurably too.

However, unlike its predecessor, there's a real feel that the iPhone 5S is a handset designed for 4G – although running at the faster connection does seem to cook the battery somewhat.

Calling

The call quality on the iPhone is nothing to shout about, with the slightly sharper edges of the phone making it even harder to hear people due to reticence to push it closer to your ear hole.

The sound quality emanating from the earpiece is decent without being stonkingly clear and there's not much in the way of audio enhancement to play with. It's worth noting that on rival handsets there's always a lot more that you can do to improve things in this respect.

In terms of the other person being able to hear you, things are more impressive, thanks to three microphones that enable excellent noise cancellation and can pick up a wide level of what you're trying to say.

But therein lies the rub - is that too simplistic? To one person, being able to calibrate the sound levels of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a great thing to be able to do, and they'll do so willingly. With the iPhone, many prefer simplicity, so the ability to be able to just press a button, make a call with a nice interface and move on will impress many.

iOS 7 1 review

There's no smart dialling here though - that really irks as it's an excellent method of getting to your contacts through the dial pad. Android 4.3 and up has it baked into the OS, and it feels high time Apple did the same thing.

The Phone app has been updated slightly too with iOS 7.1, with the buttons now turned from large coloured rectangles to circular buttons to match the dialling pad - it's a subtle change that I didn't really care about when first hearing of it, but does look more aesthetically pleasing.

Maybe Sir Ive was bored in a meeting and re-tooled them.

Facetime has been given a cheeky boost too thanks to the improved front camera, which displays really fast and clear images provided you've got a strong enough connection.

Is it ever going to take over the world in the way voice calling did? Nope, not even with an HD front facing camera. It's better though, and really helps with those lonely hotel trips.

Contacts

The contacts on the iPhone are still rather dismal, and still something that Apple needs to address. I want far more than the list of contacts on offer, despite the list of letters at the side of your address book being very easy to slide down.

iPhone 5S review

It's a lot better than it was, allowing you to enable Facebook and Twitter to update your contacts book with pictures of friends when all the data matches.

But compare that to pretty much any Android phone now and you'll see the disparity: here you have to hope that things match in terms of email or other information and the iPhone will deign to connect them together.

If this fails, it's far from simple to have everyone matched up, so no high-resolution profile pics, no updates on what your friends are doing from within the app, and generally not a lot going on at all.

Apple could do so much more with the matching here, but it's a sticky mess if you want to link anyone together.

It's not a bad contacts system, it just could (and probably will) be so much better in the future.

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
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Backlight TechnologyLED
Operating System VersioniOS 7
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, iMessage
Pixel Density326 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.2 Megapixel
Height123.7 mm
Width58.7 mm
Depth7.6 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time250 Hour
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