The dust has settled on Apple’s iPhone launch and in less than two weeks the iPhone 5S will go on sale in the UK.
While legions of smartphone fans will be snapping up the device from the early hours of September 20th, the question on the lips of many iPhone 5 owners will be: Has Apple done enough to warrant an early upgrade? Let’s take a look at the key differences between the two devices and find out
As heavily-rumoured in the build-up to the event, Apple improved the colour palette for its flagship handset. The iPhone 5S now comes in gold, silver and ‘space grey,’ replacing the black and white options available for the iPhone 5.
The aesthetic remains much the same. They’re both made of the same aluminium and glass combo while the vital stats (123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm) and weight (112g) are unchanged from the iPhone 5.
Aside from the colour, there are two details worth noting. The now-blank Home button is surrounded by a stainless steel ring - for the fingerprint sensor - while there’s a dual-LED camera flash on the rear. But more on those later.
Not much to see here. Apple has employed the same four-inch Retina display, boasting a 1136x640-pixel resolution at 326 pixels per inch, on the iPhone 5S.
It’s no longer the top dog on the market though, with full HD displays from HTC, Samsung and Sony now available.
Despite boasting a market-leading, hugely efficient camera within the iPhone 5, Apple has gone all-out to improve the snapper within the iPhone 5S. Although it still has the same eight-megapixel base-spec, Apple has made the sensor 15% larger by making the pixels bigger - they’re now 1.5 microns in size, allowing more light and better pictures.
There’s also the addition of a more powerful dual-LED flash, but unlike with some dual-flash phones, that extra power isn’t going to wash out photos thanks to the new TrueTone flash tech, which adjusts the intensity of the flash based on the environment.
The autofocus has also been updated to “DSLR-quality”, while there’s a new burst mode that’ll capture 10 pictures a second and present you with the best of the bunch.
The 1080-pixel video camera has also been updated to capture slow motion video (120 frames per second at 720p).
The iPhone 5S includes 4G, although there’s some confusion as to which networks it supports. On the Apple website it just states EE and Vodafone, so we’ll update this when Apple clarifies the matter.
Apple has upgraded the A6 processor within the iPhone 5 to a brand new A7 chip for the iPhone 5S. The new chip is more similar to a PC processor and is the first handset to boast what’s known as ‘64-bit architecture’. What really matters here is the promised 40 per cent bump in speed and graphics performance. Games will look better, play better and apps will respond faster.
Apple has also added a new M7 ‘motion co-processor’ which collates data from various sensors on the phone (compass, accelerometer, gyrometer) to track movements and power a new generation of health and fitness apps, like the new Nike Move.
In terms of battery life, Apple is promising an improvement on the iPhone 5’s stellar performance thanks to the greater efficiency of the A7 chip.
While the networks haven’t announced price plans, Apple has bumped prices up for the SIM-free iPhone 5S. The 16GB base model starts at £529 (an increase of £20), the 32GB model is £649 (up £50), while the top-end 64GB model is £709 (up by a tenner). As of yesterday, Apple has now discontinued the iPhone 5.
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5: The verdict
The iPhone 5S improves on the iPhone 5 in three key areas:
Security - Through the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Camera - Larger sensor, better autofocus, dual-LED flash, new shooting modes.
Performance - New 64-bit A7 processor with the M7 motion processor.
The 5S is undoubtedly the most advanced iPhone yet and those still rocking an iPhone 4 or 4S should have no hesitation in upgrading on September 20th. However, for owners of the one-year-old iPhone 5, who’ll also have access to the forthcoming iOS 7 software update, the decision isn’t so clear-cut.
While the iPhone 5S is not a quantum leap forward, the convenience and peace of mind provided by the Touch ID tech might be enough to sway some towards an early upgrade. But are the camera and performance boosts worth upgrading mid-contract? Probably only for the most loyal Apple devotees.