Reviews iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5

Reviews iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5. 10-9 Apple introduction Iphone 5s, iphone 5c, and IOS 7. The next-generation iPhone is here. And in Apple’s traditional naming scheme, it’s called the iPhone 5S.

It’s sure to be criticised for being too similar to the last model, the iPhone 5, but its array of low-key upgrades are sure to make it an all-round better phone in use. Here’s how the two iPhones compare.

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5 – Design

iPhone 5S – Aluminium body with glass inlays and glass front
iPhone 5 – Aluminium body with glass inlays and glass front

Despite all the speculation suggesting that Apple would once again change the screen size of the iPhone in the iPhone 5S, the phone is almost exactly the same, design-wise, as the iPhone 5. That means its body is made largely of aluminium, with toughened glass elements – and it has a 4-inch screen.

Like every high-end smartphone these days, the front screen layer is toughened glass, and the inlays on the phones’ rear are glass too. Although now far too recognisable to be neutrally appraised on its own merits in terms of aesthetics, it’s a great-looking phone.

It’s also very thin and light. The iPhone 5 weighs 112g and is 7.6mm thick. The iPhone 5S is almost identical.

Both phones are fully enclosed, giving you no access to the battery and making the phone fairly tricky to repair yourself. It also makes fitting in things such as the SIM slot trickier.

The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S use a little pop-out SIM tray, opened up using a paper clip or similar poking instrument. And both use nano SIMs, currently the smallest type of SIM card you’ll find in a phone.

If you’re upgrading from another type of phone, you’ll either have to get a new nano SIM from your phone network or cut the thing down to size yourself.

One of the most interesting hardware additions is one that’s not immediately obvious. The iPhone 5S’s Home button incorporates a fingerprint sensor used to unlock the phone without any need for a passcode. It won’t be used in third-party apps – the security implications there are mind boggling.

Apple has also introduced a new colour with the iPhone 5S. Where the iPhone 5 comes in black/slate and white/silver, there’s a champagne gold version of the iPhone 5S too. The old colours are still available, though.

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5 – Screen

iPhone 5S – 4-inch 1,136 x 640 pixels IGZO
iPhone 5 – 4-inch 1,136 x 640 pixels IPS

The iPhone 5S is all about subtle upgrades that improve the phone behind the scenes. One of the key changes is the type of screen used.

Where the iPhone 5 has an IPS screen, we believe the iPhone 5S switches to IGZO, a technology developed by Sharp. They don’t look all that different in person, but IGZO is designed to use less power – it’s a very efficient panel type.

IGZO stands for Indium gallium zinc oxide, and claims to offer power savings of up to 90 per cent compared to an LCD screen. This applies when the screen is displaying static images, making its approach somewhat similar to E-ink on a very basic level.

We’re still waiting for confirmation on whether IGZO is used, though.

What’s really a more important consideration, though is quite how small the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S  seem when placed next to their high-end Android rivals – phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4. These are highly pocketable phones, but for video-watching and game-playing, a larger screen is a boon.

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5 – Storage

iPhone 5S – 16/32/64GB, non-expandable
iPhone 5 – 16/32/64GB, non-expandable

Storage options have stayed the same as in the latest iPhone. The iPhone 5S’s entry-level model comes with 16GB of internal storage. And if you’re feeling flush you can boost that up to 32GB or 64GB.

We had hoped to see a 128GB iPhone 5S introduced, but it has not appeared. However, fitting 128GB of storage into a thin phone is a different challenge from doing the same with a tablet.

And, as you might expect, it would be seriously expensive anyway.

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5 – Software

iPhone 5S – iOS 7
iPhone 5 – iOS 7

The iPhone 5S is the phone that introduces iOS 7 to the world. However, in the usual Apple style, older iPhones such as the iPhone 5 get the update to iOS 7. iPhone 5 owners will be able to upgrade.

It’s quite an update too, if you’re used to the previous iOS 6. iOS 7 gives the system its first visual makeover since the platform first launched in 2007. Jonathan Ive is largely responsible for the direction of the update – he’s the man generally given credit for the design behind the iPod, iMac and iPhone.

iOS 7 isn’t just about visuals, though. It also adds a bunch of interface bits that make it a good deal more convenient to use. One of the most important is Control Centre.

This is a pull-up control bar that offers many of the features you find in Android’s notifications bar –  toggles for power-hungry features, a brightness slider and music controls.

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5 – CPU and RAM

iPhone 5S – Apple A7, 1GB RAM
iPhone 5 – Apple A6, 1GB RAM

Apple has upped the processor of the iPhone 5S, implementing a ‘next-gen’ Apple A7 chip – the iPhone 5 uses an Apple A6 chipset.

Of course, as these are both Apple-designed processors the name along doesn’t tell you too much about how much difference there really is.

We’ll be back with full benchmarks when we get our review iPhone 5S in, but Apple claims it’s more than twice as fast. It’s also the first phone in the world to use a 64-bit system architecture. And it supports OpenGL ES 3.0.

This is a graphics platform standard that ensures the iPhone 5S will offer significantly better visual effects. You’ll be able to see this from the off in Infinity Blade 3, which will be released on the same day as the iPhone 5S.

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5 – Camera

iPhone 5S – 8-megapixel sensor with dual-LED flash
iPhone 5 – 8-megapixel sensor with LED flash

The iPhone 5S features an improved sensor compared to the iPhone 5.  However its resolution is exactly the same as that of the last model – eight megapixels.

What has improved, though, is the size of the sensor. It’s 15 per cent larger, giving sensor pixels that are 1.5 microns in size. This will give it better image quality than the iPhone 5, and better low-light performance.

However, both iPhones have pretty small sensors, smaller than the Xperia Z1, and much smaller than the Nokia Lumia 1020. Small sensors will always struggle in dim lighting. The camera is designed for casual snappers, not photographic pedants.

Another sign that the iPhone 5S isn’t obsessed with its camera is the use of an LED flash – the same as the iPhone 5 – rather than the Xenon type. However, it is more powerful this time around, with a dual-LED flash rather than a single one. The two LEDs also use varying colour temperatures to reduce the washed-out effect using a flash can have on photos of people’s faces.

The lens has been improved too. Its aperture has been increased from f/2.4 to f/2.2, making it a ‘faster’ lens. The lower the aperture rating the more light a camera lens is able to capture within the same exposure time, improving low light performance in particular.


The iPhone 5S is a fairly conservative update of the iPhone 5. It looks more-or-less the same and the screen size hasn’t changed either. However, it comes with a bunch of improvements that offer undeniable, worthwhile improvements that’ll make the phone more of a pleasure to use day-to-day. It’s not a flashy upgrade, but it is a classy one.

We’ll be back with more once we get our iPhone 5S in to review.

Want to do the timewarp? Below you’ll find the six features we expected to see in the iPhone 5S. We were only about 50 per cent right this time. 

More colours

iPhone 5S
One of the most recent rumours is that the iPhone 5S will be available in a ‘gold colour’. At present the phone essentially comes in black and white shades – or white plus black and ‘Slate’ if you want to use Apple’s own nomenclature.

The prospect of a bright gold phone sounds like Apple losing its design marbles to us, but a lighter ‘champagne’ shade could  work. Asus adopted champagne as a lead colour for its Zenbook ultrabook range, and it works well with aluminium, which the iPhone is made out of.

A much wider range of shades has also been considered, matching the rainbow of colours that the iPod touch comes in, but the consensus is that these brighter colours will be reserved for the budget iPhone 5C model. It’s one way to convince people the ‘C’ doesn’t stand for ‘cheap’.

An improved camera

iPhone 5S 5
The iPhone 5S camera will certainly get a bump-up, especially since there was little progress in the move from iPhone 4S to iPhone 5, and the current mode is now significantly outclassed by the Galaxy S4 in terms of detail.

It’ll reportedly have a 12-megapixel camera sensor. Interestingly, this suggests it won’t use the same Sony sensor used in the Galaxy S4 – which we half expected. This 12-megapixel rumour comes from a Vietnamese blog, though, so it’s hardly concrete.

Claims of ‘improved low-light performance’ also suggest that the iPhone 5S will have a faster lens. The iPhone 5 uses an f/2.4 lens, which is not that fast when the HTC One has an f/2.0 lens and the Lumia 720 an even quicker f/1.9 lens.


iPhone 5S 4
One of the most important features of the iPhone 5S is NFC, not so much for the iPhone itself but for the development of NFC in general.

NFC stands for Near-Field Communication and is a wireless standard that is still finding its feet. It seemed at one point that it would become a widespread wireless payments standard that would be used across the high street, but its absence in the iPhone 5 seemed to put the brakes on its progress.

NFC is starting to gain popularity among accessory-makers, though. You’ll find it in many new wireless speakers, which use NFC to let the phone talk to the speaker (audio is still transmitted over Bluetooth, though).

An IGZO screen

iPhone 5S 3
Former rumours that the iPhone 5S will feature a larger screen have more-or-less been dismissed. If you want a screen bigger than four inches, and higher-res than 1,136 x 640, you’ll have to wait until 2014, if not longer.

However, it is possible the iPhone’s screen type will change. Apple’s talks with Sharp about their IGZO display technology have been reported for a long time now, and its possible Apple will ditch their favoured IPS screen type this time around.

The main benefit of IGZO is its lower power consumption, which could result in significantly better battery life. We doubt whether it’d massively increase an iPhone’s stamina, though.

A fingerprint sensor

iPhone 5S 2
The upgrade that’s sure to draw the most attention if it turns out to be true is the fingerprint sensor. It’ll be built into the Home key of the iPhone, therefore removing the need for a drastic change in design in the iPhone 5S.

However, once the hubbub has died down, it may not actually be very exciting. It may only be used to unlock your phone, in place of the current standard security measure of a pin-code. There’s some hope that it may be used to stop you having to input your password as often, but it may start off being a simple phone unlock measure.

Still, technologically it’s one of the more interesting parts of the new phone.

A quad-core GPU, with more RAM

iPhone 5S 1
A very recent rumour is that the iPhone 5S will use the same processor architecture as the iPhone 5 – with an Apple A6 chipset. It’s rumoured to stick with two cores as well, but will have a higher clock speed.

The iPhone 5 has a 1.3GHz CPU, which will reportedly be bumped up to 1.5GHz in the next model. If this seems like too small an improvement, there are also reports that a quad-core chip will be used.

It’s arguable that other improvements are more important, in particular RAM and GPU. RAM will reportedly be doubled from 1GB to 2GB and the iPhone 5S’s GPU will be a PowerVR SGX544MP4 chip. Not only is this a more advanced GPU type than the SGX 543MP3 used in the iPhone 5, it’s also a four-core chip rather than a three-core one. More power equals prettier games.

In summary

It doesn’t look like the iPhone 5S is going to be a particularly innovative phone that brings a bunch of dynamic changes to the iPhone series. If anything, the iPhone 5C – if real – will be the most exciting new Apple product revealed this September.


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