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iPhone 5S review

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

Messaging on the iPhone has always been a tricky area to call, and this device is no exception. On the one hand, the range and stability of the options to talk to other people with your fingers have been superb, and iOS 7 takes this even further than before.

iPhone 5S review

The way things look is just so much more complete, and when you're doing something simple like swiping away an email, the new blockier interface gives you so many options in such a small space.

However, the same screen is getting very cramped for typing these days, though the introduction of keyboard customisation with iOS 8 is very welcome.

Now you can install a third-party keyboard like Swiftkey and swipe around from letter to letter without lifting your thumb from the screen. It's great for one-handed typing and there are plenty more keyboards to choose from in the App Store.

The predictive text isn't too bad though, and seems to have improved over previous iterations of the iPhone. But not being able to simply add in a full stop without having to measure a tap and slide just gets too aggravating at times, and the fact your finger will often cover the area that lets you know when caps lock is on led to a few expletives.

With iOS 7.1 the keyboard was mildly enhanced to make it easier to see when the shift key is pressed - in reality, it's just a bit different and many people might not even notice.

In iOS 8 you'll find the predictive powers have grown and suggestions sit beneath the text input box now. There's also a microphone to the right of the text input box that allows you to record and send audio messages.

Email, SMS and iMessage

As mentioned, email on the iPhone 5S is excellent thanks to a combination of fast speeds and a strong UI that makes it a breeze to whip through missives from your boss.

The folder organisation is fresh and easy to use, and you can simply choose the options you want in the mailbox instead of just a list of the accounts you've got on offer.

iPhone 5S review

A swipe to the left or right on the message will give you the option to delete said email or quick reply without having to open the message itself. It's clean and crisp and, the smaller screen aside, it's very easy to manage your mail.

Mail does seem to be one of the harder apps on the operating system, with a couple of pauses noted when jumping from one app to another.

It also caused a crash on a couple of passes through different apps - I'm not used to this kind of thing from Apple, and it's been noticeable that the iPhone has suffered more crashes than usual since iOS 7 rolled around.

The impressive messaging experience continued when using the SMS and iMessage apps – the only real difference between the two (and thus when you know when it's a free messaging service or a paid for one) is there will be green or blue accents rolling around, including the bar that fills the screen as the message sends.

The ease with which you can send a photo is great, as a quick tap on the icon will enable it and iOS 8 has added the ability to send videos, audio recordings, and even share your location directly with a contact. You can even share your roaming locations for a set period of time.

There's also a change for individual contacts as the "Contact" link at the top right is now "Details" and it enables you to set "Do Not Disturb" to mute single or group conversations, and see the full list of attachments you've sent and received to that contact.

Social networking

With iOS 7 on board the iPhone 5S it means Twitter and Facebook come baked into the handset - head over to the settings menu and tap the relevant social network to sign in to your account.

Signing into these social networks in the settings menu of the iPhone 5S allows you to quickly share content to both without having to jump into the dedicated applications - which aren't installed by default.

iPhone 5S review

Say you want to post a photo to Facebook, just head on over to the Photos app, select the image you want, tap the share button and choose the FB icon.

Instead of taking you out of the application and into Facebook's own offering, you instead get a little pop up box allowing you to tap in your message, select an album to post the photo to, attach the location it was snapped (which are both optional) and the audience you wish to view it.

A similar pop up box appears if you select Twitter, but obviously with fewer options and a counter for 140 characters.

Pull down the notification bar though and the "Tap to Tweet" and "Tap to Post" buttons are no longer sitting proudly at the top of the screen - so you'll have to fire up the dedicated apps (once you've downloaded and installed them) to update the world on what you had for breakfast.

I bemoaned the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 for Apple's poor implementation of the baked in social features and sadly with the new range of iPhones and iOS 7 things haven't got much better. I'm sure there's some cool stuff Apple could do with this functionality, but it's obviously yet to realise its potential.

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