The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c launched a month ago today, and that means we've had just over 4 weeks to put them through their paces and evolve our first impressions. So, was the iPhone 5s a forward looking upgrade, is the iPhone 5c a popular alternative? One month later, how well have Apple's new iPhones held up?
Now that I've had a month with the iPhone 5s, two things have stood out the most for me: Touch ID and the camera. Touch ID is an absolute game-changer, and it's so natural to use that I find myself regularly holding my thumb over the home buttons of iPads and older iPhones just expecting them to work. I found battery life on the iPhone 5s - the first phone I've used from the start with iOS 7 - to be somewhat lacking, at least initially. Turning off Background App Refresh certainly took the sting out.
The A7 processor, paired with OpenGL ES 3.0, is going to help developers make some spectacular looking games. Infinity Blade III is the first example - its texture mapping and visual effects practically rival game consoles. Image processing has been greatly enhanced too - paired with a better camera, the iPhone takes better low-light photos than ever before, and can capture great images in burst mode and video at 120 frames per second, capturing slow-motion action worthy of a much pricier video camera.
If there's a big downside to the iPhone 5s, it's that it doesn't seem quite as stable a platform as the 5 - I've had a lot more app crashes with the 5s than I had with the 5. I attribute this, at least in part, to growing pains associated with the new 64-bit chip architecture in the iPhone 5s, and possibly some lingering weirdness with iOS 7 itself. Either way, I expect Apple is doing whatever it takes to make iOS 7 and the 5s the most stable experience possible for iPhone users.
I haven't upgraded to an iPhone 5s yet. I may at some point, but my iPhone 5 is still great. Just like with iOS 7, I haven't seen anything compelling enough to make me rush out upgrade now.
I picked up both an iPhone 5s and an iPhone 5c on launch day. I'll start by saying the iPhone 5c definitely surprised me when it comes to build quality. This is not a cheap phone. Sure aluminum is higher end and looks more classy, but for $99, people are going to be happy with this thing. It's just an incredibly bold and fun device. I can see myself using the iPhone 5c on a regular basis as a backup phone, or simply as an iPod for testing reasons.
The iPhone 5s is my daily driver and so far, I'm happy with it. I find myself thinking Touch ID isn't that big of a deal, until I pick up my iPad mini and find myself oddly irritated that I have to manually type in a passcode. The convenience factor is definitely there. App Store purchases are nice and easy, when it works that is. For some reason, I still get asked for a password when purchasing apps. Other staff members have this issue as well while others don't.
Either way, I'm happy with my iPhone 5s and feel there's enough there to justify my personal upgrade from an iPhone 5. For me, most of that comes from the camera improvements. I take a lot of photos and in low light, I felt the iPhone was very lacking, especially when it came to motion blur. I don't think it's yet perfect but I feel that for a camera phone, it's one of the best in the industry. And for now, I'm content with that. Fingers crossed for OIS next year!
I'm one of those people who replaces their phone every two years with their contract, so I came to the iPhone 5s from a 4s. The biggest thing I've noticed about the 5s is how much I'm using it over my previous phone. With the 4s, I would often turn to my iPad to perform a lot of tasks, but now I find that I pick up the 5s instead of the iPad for catching up on Twitter or light news reading.
Touch ID is a real standout feature for me, both for security and iTunes payments. Previously, when I've used a passcode on iOS, it was a simple one. With Touch ID, I've set a more complicated password that I only need to enter in case of a restart. For iTunes, the convenience of Touch ID on the iPhone cannot be overstated. While I was being prompted to re-enter my iTunes password at least twice a day before using Touch ID to download new items, I have been seeing these prompts less and less in the past couple of weeks.
I've found the performance on the 5s to be really solid. I've seen only a few crashes, and apps that have been updated to take advantage of the A7 run really well. Infinity Blade III, demoed on stage during the iPhone 5s announcement, runs smoothly and looks good on the 5s. I don't take many pictures, but those that I have taken are noticeably better to the ones from my 4s.
I've been using the iPhone 5s since launch day, after a long overnight stint outside the local Apple Store to secure one. And as I've said on a previous iMore Show, I think it's the best phone I've used all year (and I've played around with a good few!)
The 5s is the complete package. Same gorgeous design and amazing construction as the iPhone 5, with improvements that you really can notice. The camera is simply excellent, and was used almost exclusively to capture a recent vacation. Precious memories that not once have I wished I had a 'proper camera' to take. Oh, and try taking better panorama shots with a phone other than with the 5s. It's staggeringly good compared to most things out there.
And of course, Touch ID. I want it everywhere, and I want it yesterday. It works so very well, that despite my previously written about annoyances with it, has value in my daily use far beyond that which I ever could have imagined.
This phone is fast. Stupid fast. Modern smartphones are really a marvel of technology when you think about everything that's crammed into them. But in reality there's only one part of the 5s that's changed how I use my iPhone, and that's Touch ID. I've repgrogrammed it a few times as I've realized the multitude of ways that I unlock my iPhone, but this simple layer of security has made things far more convenient for me in keeping my data safe.
The camera is nice, in that it's better, but it's not revolutionary. The minimum focal distance does seem to be improved, and the Touch ID-toting home button still feels delightfully clicking and tactile compared to my older iPhones. But, as an S model, the iPhone 5s isn't a mind-blowing device. It's the iPhone 5, but faster, with a better camera, and a fingerprint scanner. And maybe in gold, if you happen to roll that way.
I was hugely happy with the iPhone 5. Now I'm hugely happy with the iPhone 5s. It's virtually the same phone, only faster - noticeably faster - and with a better camera. I liked the camera after a week. I love it after a month. From the beautifully lit panoramas, to the bursts to simply the better every days, it's once again the best all-around mobile camera I've ever used.
Touch ID has been good too. It occasionally requires me to touch a second time, rejecting the first, but never more than that, and it almost always works immediately. It's so good I want it everywhere. On my iPad. On my Mac. On my house. On my shoes. Every. Where.
I've used the iPhone 5c less as time has gone on, but it's still fun. If the iPhone 5 were still on the market, I'd choose the iPhone 5c over it, no doubt about it. The only question would be which color.
Your iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c: One month later review?
Whether you got an iPhone 5s or an iPhone 5c, we'd love to know what your experience has been. How's your iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c now, one month later?
Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.