By simply looking at the iPhone 5s, you may not notice much of a difference from the phone Apple unveiled last year. But while company’s new flagship sports the same sleek design, 4-inch Retina display and 8-megapixel camera as the iPhone 5, the 5S comes with fresh nuances that could make it a game changer. Are the iPhone 5s’ new fingerprint scanner and faster 64-bit processor worth the upgrade to a device that looks nearly identical to its predecessor? See how the iPhone 5s fared in these early reviews.
The Good: “The new camera will mean more to you. Its sensor is 15 percent bigger, and the individual light-detecting pixels are bigger. Take photos side-by-side with the iPhone 5S’s predecessor, and the difference is immediately obvious; lowlight pictures are far better on the new phone. Clearer, brighter, better color.”
MORE: iPhone 5s: Full Review
“The best part is that it [TouchID] actually works — every single time, in my tests. It’s nothing like the balky, infuriating fingerprint-reader efforts of earlier cellphones. It’s genuinely awesome; the haters can go jump off a pier.”
The Bad: “Weirdly, filtered photos and slo-mo videos don’t survive the transfer to your computer, although you can send them by e-mail or text message.”
Pogue described using TouchID for App Store or iTunes purchases as “buggy.”
The Good: “The fingerprint sensor, unlike some other questionable recent smartphone tech like gesture control or eye-tracking, doesn’t feel like a gimmick or tech demo; it feels like a mature feature that actually enhances the overall experience of using an iPhone in a noticeable way that you encounter very frequently.”
“General performance is perceptibly improved, with apps launching quicker, camera and other functions recycling with less downtime, and just overall helping the phone to feel fresh and new.”
The Bad: “At 326 ppi and 1136 x 640, it [the display] falls somewhere in the middle of the park in terms of pixel density, and somewhat below the maximum resolution achieved by larger-screened Android devices, some of which now boast full HD (1080p) resolution.”
The Good: “And it is indeed fast: the scanner was able to pick up all of our fingers in fractions of a second and from any angle. It’s so natural, in fact, that we almost forgot that passwords and unlock screens even existed.”
“Is the iPhone 5s the best iPhone ever made? Yes, though that shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
The Bad: “It’s not perfect, however: the scanner didn’t work when our fingers were wet or only partially on the home button.”
The Good: “The Touch ID-enabled home button feels invisible; it works with a tap, can recognize your finger from many angles, and feels like it has less of a fail rate than fingerprint sensors I’ve used on laptops.”
“If you’re getting a new iPhone for its camera, get the 5S. A suite of new and useful upgrades help make the already-good iPhone 5 camera into something even better.”
The Bad: “Faster is better, especially when battery life doesn’t suffer, but the 5S doesn’t feel like a shocking new product.”
“It’s a common occurrence in iPads and MacBooks, too: take a familiar form, and repeat. But, in a phone landscape dominated by rapid change, it can feel frustrating, even for a product we loved just 12 months ago.”
The Good: AnandTech reports that Apple’s new A7 chip measured 20 percent lower main memory latency when compared to the previous generation A6, resulting in smoother overall performance. In a Geekbench 3.0 Compute Performance test, the A7 scored noticeabley higher than the A6 across the board. When compared to other previous generation iPhones, the difference was even more drastic.
“Even compared to a relatively modern phone like the iPhone 4s, the jump to a 5s is huge.”
The Bad: “The move to a 4-inch display last year was very necessary, but some will undoubtedly be disappointed by the lack of any further progress on the screen dimension front.”
The Good: “It [Touch ID] sounds like a gimmick, but it’s a real advance, the biggest step ever in biometric authentication for everyday devices.”
“All my pictures were slightly sharper than on the iPhone 5 and low-light pictures were much less wash-out by the flash.”
The Bad: “But I didn’t notice any dramatic speed improvement, partly because few apps have yet to be rewritten to take advantage of it [Apple’s A7 b4-bit processor].
The iPhone 5s hits stores on Sept. 20 and will be available on Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T. Like its predecessors, the device will come in different capacities including 16GB for $199, 32GB for $299 and 64GB for $399. Buyers get three color choices to choose from: space gray, gold and the traditional silver. Our initial hands-on impressions praised many of the features highlighted in this review roundup, such as the easy-to-use fingerprint sensors and dual-flash LED camera. We look forward to bringing you our full review soon.