Apple iPhone 5s Review
The stock Camera app has gotten a decent upgrade as well – it allows you to choose from a set of 8 photo filters, and it also sports a new 'square' photo mode, for those of you who would enjoy snapping square photos. The panorama picture option is once again here, of course, and so is HDR. If you've been hoping for some more advanced options, such as ISO, sharpness and so on, you're in for a disappointment, because the camera app is just as simple as before. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, because it's incredibly fast and easy to use. If you'd like a more "manual" experience, well, you'll surely find an app for that. Although it’s not something entirely new, the iPhone 5s now offers the useful mode of burst shooting, which is accessed by merely pressing and holding onto the shutter key.
Alas, we now come to the point where shutterbugs are bound to know for sure if the iPhone 5s is indeed an improvement over the iPhone 5 in terms of picture quality via its updated 8-megapixel iSight camera. So what’s the final verdict on this one? Well, we can certainly say that it’s a valid claim, but its superiority is mostly reserved to low lighting quality. In fact, as we compare samples taken by the iPhone 5, we’re unable to actually tell the two apart with their outdoor quality. It’s not a bad thing honestly, seeing that it’s rich with sharp details and warmer toned colors to continue making it one of the best in its class. Also, it handles dynamic range fairly well too, as both light and dark areas are well exposed.
The true telling, however, is most evident with its low lighting quality, which is attributed due to the combination of its backside illuminated sensor, larger aperture f2.2 lens (f2.4 for the iPhone 5), and larger sized pixels (1.5µm vs 1.4µm) thanks to the 15% bigger sensor (from 1/3.2” in the iPhone 5, to 1/3.0” in the 5s). Not only are images brighter in tone in lower lighting situations, thus, exposing more details than the iPhone 5, but there’s also less blurring and haziness too. Essentially, it translates to images that rival the sharpness and clarity of outdoor shots – though, details of course, are a smidgen softer looking. With this new model, it’s sporting not one, but two LED flashes. Through the combination of its white and amber colored LED flashes, the iPhone 5s composes images that have a more balanced look with colors. And yes, it’s extremely potent as well, enabling it to light things up as far as 7 feet away!
Packing an HDR mode as well, images clearly make good use of the various exposures that the iPhone 5s snaps up. Naturally, dynamic range is handled exquisitely in HDR mode, seeing that the handset does a bang up job of performing its post processing effects to get the best result.
Previewing its 1080p video recording quality, there’s not a whole lot different here that jumps at us. Certainly, it produces videos that are most pleasing to the eyes, as it’s filled with plenty of visual eye candy – like its sharp details, accurate colors, smooth recording, progressive exposure adjustment, and clear audio recording. Sure, there are a few instances of artifacting that’s evident every now and then as we pan quickly, but it’s hardly a distracting element. One of these days Apple is going to get it right, but alas, we’re only presented with touch focus yet again.
Mixing things up, the iPhone 5s has a neat-o high definition slow motion recording mode as well. Specifically, it shoots the video at a blazing fast rate of 120 fps, enabling us to select when to apply the slow motion mode by merely adjusting the cropping marks in the video timeline. Without a doubt, it’s a pretty cool and slick feature, especially when the audio also receives the same slow motion treatment as well. Depending on the action that’s being shot, you can seemingly get a cool Matrix-like effect with this particular mode.
It might not sport fancy looking 3D visual effects, but the Photos app of iOS 7 also gets its long deserved update. Running the app, we have quick access to looking through photos stored locally on the iPhone 5s, and others stored in the cloud via Photo Stream. Everything is once again presented in the customary 2D scrollable view, but the organization of content has been improved considerable – as we can view them according to date, album, or location. Not only do we have quick sharing via the usual portals (Messages, Mail, iCloud, Twitter, Facebook, & Flickr), we can also share then through iOS 7’s new AirDrop feature.
Say it ain’t so?? The music player is no longer carrying the app’s usual flare in its cover-flow mode! Yes, you heard that right folks, cover-flow mode is no longer seen with the music player, as it’s been replaced by this resizable album cover grid layout when tilting the phone sideways to landscape. Seriously, it’s not as flashy! Despite the omission of cover-flow, the functions of the music player are intact. As for the presentation, it boasts the same lovable visual improvement we see throughout the platform, but for the most part, it’s still rather conventional looking – it doesn’t try to be flashy.
However, we do appreciate the addition of iTunes Radio, which is Apple’s new streaming music service that’s similar to Pandora. When it comes to audio output from its internal speaker, we can attest that it doesn’t differ whatsoever from what we’ve seen with the iPhone 5 already. It’s potent, but nothing earth shattering.
Copying videos to the iPhone 5s continues to be a process of its own, mainly due to the requirement of having us to convert them to properly load. Regardless of that, the smartphone is a decent offering when it comes to watching videos. Why only decent? Well, we’ll point out that high definition videos play flawlessly and without any hitches, but considering that larger screens prove to be more suitable for the experience, the 4-inch Retina Display seems rather quaint when compared to its rivals. Still, it suffices for the occasion.