Review roundup: iPhone 5s with iOS 7 best smartphone available, 5c offers well-built alternative

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
With Apple's iPhone 5s and 5c scheduled to hit the market on Friday, reviews for the two devices are being published to the Web by all major news outlets and the initial impressions are largely positive.

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AnandTech

AnandTech's Anand Shimpi offered perhaps the most in-depth look at both handsets. In his usual meticulous style, Shimpi describes the iPhone 5s as "quite possibly the biggest S-update we've ever seen from Apple." His take on the A7 SoC is especially telling, as it breaks down performance stats as well as an explanation of the architecture in minute detail.

The handset's camera is more of an "evolutionary" change from the unit on the iPhone 5, though there are marked enhancements in low light performance and an "excellent auto mode."

Touch ID was well implemented and Shimpi found he missed the feature when moving to the iPhone 5c.

As for the plastic-backed iPhone, Shimpi found the unit to be the "perfect replacement" for the iPhone 5, offering performance on par with the last-generation handset in a solidly constructed package. Interestingly, the 5c's display performed better in some tests than the iPhone 5s, with good contrast and color fidelity.

AllThingsD

Walt Mossberg gives a condensed summary of his time with the iPhone 5s, touting the Touch ID fingerprint sensor as one of the phone's highlights.

"It sounds like a gimmick, but it?s a real advance, the biggest step ever in biometric authentication for everyday devices," Mossberg said.

He went on to say that iOS 7 is a "big improvement" over iOS 6, with too many new features to list. The Siri virtual assistant is more accurate and useful than before, with new voices and hooks into assets like Bing.

Mossberg's biggest complaint was the lack of change to the keyboard, as well as Apple's reluctance to allow the installation of third-party solutions as does Android.

For the iPhone 5c, Lauren Goode calls the unit a solid, premium phone. She notes the internals are largely carried over from the iPhone 5, with added improvements to LTE capabilities and minor hardware buffs like a larger front-facing camera sensor.

Goode also points out colors on the 5c's display are slightly warmer than the 5s.

While Apple has not yet disclosed the handset's battery capacity, the publication found that it lasted a bit longer under normal use when compared to similar tests on the iPhone 5.

Engadget

Engadget was one of the first to put up their review of the top-end iPhone 5s once the embargo lifted on Tuesday. The publication found the handset's hardware, or more specifically the A7 SoC and camera, to be top notch. With its 64-bit architecture, the A7 may prove to be a game changer if developers get on board with software that takes advantage of the chip.

For the iPhone 5c, the publication found the handset to be "more than just the sum of its parts," noting high build quality that pairs well with the carried over equipment from the iPhone 5. The real player here is iOS 7, which delivers a great experience when combined with the colorful 5c hardware. Because no major changes were made to the phone's camera, it was found somewhat lacking. Also a bone of contention was the size of the display, which remains unchanged from the iPhone 5.

TechCrunch

Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch said in his review that with the iPhone 5s, "Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available." The looks may not be different from the iPhone 5, but the internal components have a dramatic impact on day-to-day activities normal for a smartphone user. Of note, Etherington goes into detail regarding the 5s' various camera modes and improved hardware spec sheet. Touch ID is also a seamless experience that is well implemented. The A7 processor is designed for future applications, and should reach full potential down the road.

The 5c's greatest asset is arguably its new design, Etherington said. Apple's engineering gives the handset a premium feel, though not much has changed internally. Overall, the unit is a slight improvement on the iPhone 5, which Etherington believes would be the best smartphone around if Apple hadn't announced the 5s.

The Loop

Jim Dalrymple took a look at both models in his writeup, saying the 5s is for those who need to have the latest and greatest, while the 5c is targeted to Android switchers and budget-minded buyers. Once again, the Touch ID feature of the iPhone 5s wowed, removing the burden of having to type in a passcode every time the phone is unlocked.

"The fingerprint sensor took all of that pain away. I still have the security I was looking for, but none of the frustration," Dalrymple writes.

Further commentary was provided on the camera upgrades, which were found to be good for every day users. Especially impressive was iOS 7's Camera app, which adds new levels of functionality with slow motion video and burst mode still image capture, among other features. Also mentioned was the A7 SoC architecture, which gives a speed boost to daily operations.

For the 5c, Dalrymple notes good build quality as one of the most outstanding features of the phone. He was impressed with Apple's ability to not only bring a lower end iPhone to market without sacrificing functionality, but actually adding features for less money.

Other notable reviews

CNET gave the iPhone 5s four out of five stars.

The New York Times' David Pogue found the new iPhones to be light on hardware advancements aside from the standout Touch ID fingerprint sensor and update camera in the 5s, but noted iOS 7 is a dramatic change for the better.

Both the iPhone 5s and 5c will be available to purchase on Friday, with the polycarbonate model already up for preorders on Apple's website, as well as those of partner carriers.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 110
    Siri is definitely improved, I agree with Mossberg. I have the leaked GM copy on my ipad and Siri has had no delays, and she/it handles tasks and requests with ease. Siri may become my favorite feature of ios 7...and this coming from someone who had given up on Siri!
  • Reply 2 of 110
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    So which review said the 5S was the best smartphone available? I'm curious to know who wrote that. Seems like overall both phones are getting good reviews. No surprise that some of the pro android sites are complaining about the display size. :rolleyes:
  • Reply 3 of 110
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



     No surprise that some of the pro android sites are complaining about the display size. image

    Those poor people cannot afford ipad mini or regular ipad! What can we do about those whiners <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 4 of 110
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,612member

    I agree with AnandTech in describing 'the iPhone 5s as "quite possibly the biggest S-update we've ever seen from Apple."' In previous years, the new phone would have been worthy of a new model number. However, with analysts inane obsession with bigger screens, appearance and lower prices, Apple was this year severely constrained. The upgrade to the camera system will prove significant, the fingerprint sensor, if reliable, revolutionary and the A7/M7 duo enormously enabling, as witnessed in the camera's new capabilities. This phone could have been the iPhone 6.

  • Reply 5 of 110
    5s is a game changer that's for sure. I can't wait to get mine, but I'm hoping there will at least be enough in stock at my local Apple store Friday.
  • Reply 6 of 110
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,612member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by blackbook View Post



    5s is a game changer that's for sure. I can't wait to get mine, but I'm hoping there will at least be enough in stock at my local Apple store Friday.

     

    Let us know about your experience. :)

  • Reply 7 of 110
    iqatedo wrote: »
    Let us know about your experience. :)

    I'm going to stand in line Thursday night into Friday.

    I plan on getting a space gray model! I'll post pics IF I can get one before they sell out!
  • Reply 8 of 110

    Anandtech's review was great.

     

    It kinda brings a smile to my face knowing that all over the world fandroids are crying that Apple has the fastest mobile processor in the world by a wide margin. Amazing that a dual core 1.3GHz processor can hold up to (and often beat) a quad core 2.2GHz processor.

     

    Even more so since benchmarks have now shown there is a significant performance boost running in 64bit. I wonder where all the naysayers are going to hide now that it's proven the 64bit "marketing gimmick" has actual real-world benefits you get right now, without 4GB of RAM?

  • Reply 9 of 110
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    For the iPhone 5c, Lauren Goode calls the unit a solid, premium phone. She notes the internals are largely carried over from the iPhone 5, with added improvements to LTE capabilities and minor hardware buffs like a larger front-facing camera sensor.

     

     

    "but but but huge downgrade from iphone 5"

  • Reply 10 of 110
    "but but but huge downgrade from iphone 5"

    As much as I dislike plastic I'm excited to touch and feel the 5c after reading these reviews.

    Multiple reviews described the material of the 5c's back panel to feel ceramic and not like plastic at all. That sounds rather unique and exciting.
  • Reply 11 of 110
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    [QUOTE]The New York Times' David Pogue found the new iPhones to be light on hardware advancements aside from the standout Touch ID fingerprint sensor and update camera in the 5s[/QUOTE]

    WTF?
  • Reply 12 of 110
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    iqatedo wrote: »
    I agree with AnandTech in describing 'the iPhone 5s as "quite possibly the biggest S-update we've ever seen from Apple."' In previous years, the new phone would have been worthy of a new model number. However, with analysts inane obsession with bigger screens, appearance and lower prices, Apple was this year severely constrained. The upgrade to the camera system will prove significant, the fingerprint sensor, if reliable, revolutionary and the A7/M7 duo enormously enabling, as witnessed in the camera's new capabilities. This phone could have been the iPhone 6.
    I still can't believe some people think the 4>4S was bigger and better upgrade than the 5>5S.
  • Reply 13 of 110
    rogifan wrote: »
    I still can't believe some people think the 4>4S was bigger and better upgrade than the 5>5S.

    Siri was definitely a flashier more talked about feature especially with consumers than Touch ID is now.
  • Reply 14 of 110
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
  • Reply 15 of 110
    <h2>TechCrunch</h2>

    Darrell Etherington from <em>TechCrunch</em> said in <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/17/iphone-5s-review-apple/">his review</a> that with the iPhone 5s, "Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available." The looks may not be different from the iPhone 5, but the internal components have a dramatic impact on day-to-day activities normal for a smartphone user. Of note, Etherington goes into detail regarding the 5s' various camera modes and improved hardware spec sheet. Touch ID is also a seamless experience that is well implemented. The A7 processor is designed for future applications, and should reach full potential down the road.

    rogifan wrote: »
    So which review said the 5S was the best smartphone available? I'm curious to know who wrote that. Seems like overall both phones are getting good reviews. No surprise that some of the pro android sites are complaining about the display size. :rolleyes:

    should be TechCrunch which i quoted above...
  • Reply 16 of 110
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    So which review said the 5S was the best smartphone available? I'm curious to know who wrote that. Seems like overall both phones are getting good reviews. No surprise that some of the pro android sites are complaining about the display size. image

     

    Mossberg, last sentence: "Overall, however, the new iPhone 5s is a delight. Its hardware and software make it the best smartphone on the market."

     

    Ed Baig, headline: "The iPhone 5s makes the best smartphone even better."

     

    Techcrunch: "With the iPhone 5s, Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available."

     

    all the rest praise the 5s too. everyone lauds the convenience of Touch ID and already miss not having it otherwise. all agree the camera takes really good low light pix with Dual LED, the slow mo is fun and the burst mode (10 second 999 pix max i learned) is very impressive. they all observe that the 64 bit A7 chip and M7 chip have tremendous potential for important new apps in the future. they all note that battery life is improved too. they all like the many improvements in iOS 7.

     

    most called the 5s future-ready, with the full potential of these major technical - dare i say? - "innovations" yet to be fully realized.

     

    on the other hand, most wish the screen was bigger even while acknowledging the smaller size is easier to handle. otherwise there is a wide range of nit-picks and pet peeves.

     

    none of the reviews are negative. all 4-5 stars.

     

    then the comments of course are filled with android fan people calling the reviewers whores, idiots, paid off, sheep, etc etc. ah, i love the smell of desperate fear in the evening.

  • Reply 17 of 110
    Bigger screen would be nice but I wasn't expecting it this year. For me a phablet is not about eliminating the need to upgrade my iPads, it's about an all in 1 away from home device
  • Reply 18 of 110
    No mention of NFC? Bwasaaaa.

    Is anyone really surprised by the reviews? Apple doesn't release crap hardware.
  • Reply 19 of 110
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Everett Ruess View Post



    Bigger screen would be nice but I wasn't expecting it this year. For me a phablet is not about eliminating the need to upgrade my iPads, it's about an all in 1 away from home device

     

    exactly. for a smartphone/camera, i want small and handy. for surfing and laid back stuff, i'll get the retina Mini when it is released, next month i hope. it's about having two right tools for two different jobs, not one compromise tool in between both.

  • Reply 20 of 110
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,700member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackbook View Post





    As much as I dislike plastic I'm excited to touch and feel the 5c after reading these reviews.



    Multiple reviews described the material of the 5c's back panel to feel ceramic and not like plastic at all. That sounds rather unique and exciting.

     

    Sure it may be plastic, but I think where Apple really improved on the "cheap plastic" dogma was the addition of the steel frame/antenna design that really gives the phone strength and rigidity that none of the plastic android junk has been able to do.



    I guess we'll know how Samsung is going to design its next plastic phone.
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