The iPhone 5S, along with the 5C both replace the iPhone 5, which has been discontinued. I’ve been playing with the 5S since the day it went on sale in South Africa, on Friday, 15 November. The 5C is meant to be a “low cost” plastic handset that comes in bright colours, like the Nokia Lumia range. But pricing starts at R8 499, so you’re better off considering the 5S.
The 5S looks exactly like the 5, except for the flat new home button, which has a metal ring around it, used to detect your finger with Touch ID.
Touch ID lets you unlock your phone with your finger, as well authorise purchases on the App Store. You can store up to 5 fingerprints on the phone, but the more fingerprints stored, the longer it takes to read. To enrol a fingerprint, go to the Settings menu and into Touch ID, then tap your finger on the button until it fills up the print that appears on screen. Touch ID also records your fingerprint from different directions, like the top, sides and bottom, and reads it from any direction, even upside down, which is very impressive. I recorded my thumbprints, and for the purpose of this Vine, my right index finger. As you can see, this is how quickly you can unlock your handset with Touch ID:
Physically, the 5S has identical dimensions and weight to the 5, which is 112g. If you like the elongated look of the 5, with its 4-inch retina display, then you’d like it on the 5S. It’s still the handset with the smallest screen from all high-end smartphones currently on the market, like the Xperia Z1 or LG G2. The previous black and white colours have been replaced by silver, gold and grey. After using the black 5, I much prefer the silver and white option because it’s less likely, or not at all, to show any scuffs/nicks; and it looks better. The display on the 5S has a slightly warmer hue; when placed side by side on maximum brightness with the 5, the 5S looked off-white.
The 5S is powered by the world’s first 64-bit mobile chip, the A7, with an M7 coprocessor and ships with iOS 7. The 64-bit chip doesn’t mean much to the consumer, except that it is capable of addressing more memory. But, more RAM means more power being used, and we all know how precious battery life is on a smartphone. The phone is faster, launches apps quicker and noticeable when browsing. What I did notice was certain apps were causing the phone to reboot. After a bit of research, it appears that apps crash twice as often on the 5S than the 5C due to them not being compatible with the 64-bit chip. Once developers address this issue and update their apps, it should be fine.
The M7 coprocessor runs in the background all the time, using very little power, for monitoring and tracking your movements. If you have a Fitbit or Nike FuelBand, it makes it redundant, sort of. The Nike+ Move app was made especially for the 5S; it’s a free download and lets you link your Nike+ account. It tracks your movement and displays your daily stats in coloured graphs, with your NikeFuel count. I almost forgot that it was running, as it barely impacted on battery life.
The 8-megapixel camera on the 5S has been improved quite a bit, it now has a larger lens, which means more light can enter the sensor, therefore better low light images. The new white and amber dual-LED flash is meant to give off a more natural tone for photos, and it has auto image stabilisation. The camera records i full 1080p HD at 30fps, with option to zoom x3, while the front 1.2MP HD camera is capable of recording in 720p. There are two new modes to the camera – burst mode and slo-mo.
Burst mode lets you get the best action shot by taking a series of rapid shots at 10fps while holding the shutter release button down. It works on the normal photo and square photo modes, and the number of shots taken is displayed next to the shutter button. Slo-mo lets you record in slow motion, but to be honest, I can’t see myself making use of this feature. It’s great if you have kids I guess. When you record in slo-mo, the section that is made into slow motion is automatically detected by Apple, however if you go into edit mode, you can adjust this. There’s not much you can do with the video, except playback on the device.
Battery life on the 5S has not been a significant upgrade, it’s now 1540mAh, compared to the 1440mAh on the 5. It will take you through a regular day. If you’re out of office though, you will need a battery pack, or if you are making use of it as a GPS, a car charger is recommended. On the upside, all my accessories for the 5 works on the 5S, especially the Mophie juice pack.
If you’re an iPhone 4S user looking to upgrade, then go for it; you will appreciate a lighter and much faster handset, better camera, bigger screen and the impressive Touch ID. However, if you are using a 5, you are better off waiting for the next-generation iPhone.
The iPhone 5S is available through Vodacom on contract and it can be purchased on prepaid soon, at the following prices:
16GB – R10 499
32GB – R11 799
64GB – R13 299
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 14 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org