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Apple iPhone 5s Review

Apple iPhone 5s


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.

Image size:
Use our samples comparison tool to see photos from more phones

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.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 5s 1
Samsung Galaxy S4 0.38
LG G2 0.29
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Apple iPhone 5s 74
Samsung Galaxy S4 77
LG G2 66
View all

  • Options

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 07:14 49

1. Xavier1415 (Posts: 39; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)

this phone is trash and apple fanboys will buy anything thats apple smh

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 07:18 35

5. JDogg5281 (Posts: 74; Member since: 09 Aug 2012)

I wouldnt say it is trash...just a little boring the design hasnt really changed since....ever. Same thick box look.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 08:56 15

64. promise7 (Posts: 891; Member since: 03 Jul 2013)

Thick? It's one of the slimmest and lightest smartphones available.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 22:57 6

127. Samsungadroidrules (Posts: 104; Member since: 28 Jul 2013)

Galaxy S4 has 5 inch screen and yet it is Slim and Lightest. Nit to mention its Advanced features. Unlike this Outdated, Boring Over priced iPhone again.

posted on 24 Sep 2013, 09:04 3

132. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

This comes with touch id fingerprint sensor
Does ur dandroid comes with it?

posted on 24 Sep 2013, 20:03 9

136. realnic55 (Posts: 2; Member since: 24 Sep 2013)

If you're buying a two year old Atrix it does.

posted on 29 Sep 2013, 18:56 2

151. rightcue805 (Posts: 55; Member since: 08 Jul 2013)

oooooo it was hacked in the first 3 days.

posted on 14 Nov 2013, 07:52 3

180. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

And "was" updated in the next 3 days

posted on 13 Oct 2013, 06:47 1

173. Alexs21 (unregistered)

Wow it comes with a finger print sensor.

posted on 28 Jan 2014, 17:27

186. Neo_Huang (Posts: 1067; Member since: 06 Dec 2013)

That's just a gimmick, and probably just a way for the NSA to get your fingerprint. Besides, haven't you heard of the Vivo Xplay 3s? Or the HTC One Max? Or even some 5 year old phone? Get your facts straight before posting.

posted on 14 Aug 2014, 14:09

194. bob_monkeywarts (unregistered)

The s5 does. My dandroid also comes with face recognition.

posted on 14 Dec 2013, 10:54

181. Alexs21 (unregistered)

He didn't say it was thick he said it looks thick.

posted on 14 Aug 2014, 14:08

193. bob_monkeywarts (unregistered)

Right, but it feels thick compared to other phones. Motorola devices are amazingly designed with a curved back, nice materials, and that awesome little "dimple." The iPhone 5s (and the iPhone 5c, and the iPhone 5, and the iPhone 4s, and the iPhone 4, and EVERY IPHONE) is a box that FEELS thick because it's just a slab.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 15:00 3

100. Leo_MC (Posts: 2733; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)

If Rolls Royce lines are borring, than iPhone's are too.

posted on 24 Sep 2013, 09:53 2

133. CtK4949 (Posts: 35; Member since: 22 Nov 2011)

Rolls Royce are boring as hell!! Just like the crraple phone!!

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 07:27 18

7. bucky (Posts: 3138; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)

Really? What's trash about it?

Camera? Screen? AppStore? Sound? Speaker? Support? Updates? Software optimization? CPU? Gpu?

I don't get it...

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 13:16 9

91. saffant (Posts: 274; Member since: 04 Jul 2011)

Screen size, and originality (or lack thereof rather).

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 17:05 3

108. Leo_MC (Posts: 2733; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)

Yeah, I carry my 55" plasma; I find 5.7" Note to be sooooooooooo small...
But I'm a 2.5 m giant with 20 cm long fingers so I can easily use the Note, unlike average 170 cm Joe which would have to use 2 hands.

posted on 06 Oct 2013, 08:37 1

170. saffant (Posts: 274; Member since: 04 Jul 2011)

Get a S4 then, or a HTC One/ Nexus 5 etc.

iPhone's 4" screen is a bad.. bad joke.

posted on 02 Oct 2013, 09:56 3

165. MobileKicker (Posts: 212; Member since: 19 Sep 2013)

That's not a strong reason!

posted on 06 Oct 2013, 08:36 1

169. saffant (Posts: 274; Member since: 04 Jul 2011)

Sure it is. That's two BIG reasons. See how people flamed the S4 when it came out cuz it looked to similar to the S3. Well the 5S looks IDENTICAL to the 5.

Also, this is 2013.. 4" screens are dead. In this multimedia age, everyone wants a bigger screen.

posted on 04 Jul 2014, 16:38

191. gutuebogdan (Posts: 29; Member since: 16 Oct 2013)

Not everyone wants a bigger screen. 4" for a smarphone is perfect. Everything biger than 4, 3" is perfect for a multimediaphone. Just my opinion.

posted on 14 Aug 2014, 14:11

195. bob_monkeywarts (unregistered)

You are such a fanboy.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 21:07 3

122. sabres0809 (Posts: 16; Member since: 18 Dec 2012)

No originality. Just a finger print scanner and a processor that won't be relevant because everything is made to run on old processors

posted on 27 Jul 2014, 23:58 1

192. mstar010 (Posts: 1; Member since: 27 Jul 2014)

Are you kidding me? Apple introduced the first touch screen smartphone that was actually good.

I feel like everyone else has no originality making phones with smartphones.

Plus you get incredible build quality with an iPhone only rivaled by an HTC One.

All the other android phones are cheap plastic pos.

posted on 29 Sep 2013, 18:57

152. rightcue805 (Posts: 55; Member since: 08 Jul 2013)

ALL OF IT! The fact that you guys still don't have a removeable battery, no expandable memory. SUPPORT? HA

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 07:27 22

9. PAPINYC (banned) (Posts: 2315; Member since: 30 Jul 2011)

Did we expect anything less from iLovers??!!

NO!!!! So, take this review and the content herein as biAsed and, therefore, iNvalid since the reviewer (s) have completely disregarded alllllllllllll of the short-comings with this phone and its' lovely lavender-laced iCon operating system. Nevermind the fact that there are at least 100 things that Android can do that iOS/iDudz CAN NOT. Enjoy the fabriCated review as a TMZ article and nothing more. I'm waiting for the reviews for Galaxy Note 3, HTC One Max and Nokia 1520 (Verizon) to seehow they iSpin their reviews in comparison to this quasiPhone review.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 08:01 7

49. greathero1 (Posts: 576; Member since: 13 Jun 2008)

At some point you are going to have to change it up a bit and kill the silly stuff. You ought to get tired of saying the same cheesy stuff everyday. The phone has reviewed well across numerous tech sites so everybody is wrong but you........get over yourself and calm down. The Note will get a 9.5 so you can claim supremacy again in a couple of weeks.

posted on 26 Sep 2013, 19:35 3

143. darkkjedii (Posts: 25040; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)

Shhhhhhhhhhh, oh yeah PA already shushed you.

posted on 23 Sep 2013, 07:34 16

18. Ninetysix (Posts: 2689; Member since: 08 Oct 2012)

If it's trash, then what would you call all the phones that it beat in benchmarks? Poop? Sh**? Dung? hahaha


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PhoneArena rating:
Display4.0 inches, 640 x 1136 pixels (326 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera8 megapixels
Apple A7, Dual-core, 1300 MHz, Cyclone ARMv8 processor
Size4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches
(123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm)
3.95 oz  (112 g)

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