iPhone 5s review: Is it worth it in 2017?


It’s been about three years since Apple launched the iPhone 5s. It was a refinement of a design pioneered by the iPhone 5. A rectangular aluminum chasy with rounded corners and chamfers all round. This was arguably Apple’s best design workmanship and is still a favorite considering that they re-institituted the design with the unveiling of the iPhone SE in early 2016.

It’s easy to see why people would be interested in a phone with a small form factor. The 5s is easy to hold in one hand and grip is helped by the chamfered edges, which can be sharp at times, and the flat sides. Reaching the top corners of the screen is much easier than trying to handle a 5.5 inch display.

Speaking of the display, the 5s has a 4 inch Retina display, which is Apple’s way of saying that you won’t see pixels at normal viewing distances. In a vacuum, the 5s display is good and has fairly good viewing angles and color reproduction but once you start comparing it to today’s smartphones it falls behind the pack. And with a resolution of 1136 by 640, it can be a pain to look at after feasting your eyes on a Galaxy S7 screen.

The build quality as you might expect from Apple is top notch. Everything from the polished Apple logo to the clicks-ness of the buttons always impress. The home button is actually a joy to use with majority of the interaction with iOS 10 being centered around the home button; a single click to go to the home screen, a double click to check out your recently opened apps and holding it down brings up Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant. The home button also includes a fingerprint scanner which is a tad slower compared to modern implementations but serves well working 8 times out of 10.

On the software side, the 5s still receives frequent updates with the current software in the public release cycle being iOS 10.3.1 (you could try the beta software if you’re adventurous

but I’ll talk about that later). Everything runs surprisingly fast and snappy on the 5s. It’s not bogged down by the software at all. To give you a scope of how well Apple supports its devices, the 5s shipped in 2013 with iOS 6 and has seen the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and soon 11th iterations of Apple’s mobile OS. This is certainly impressive.

For most of us, social media now consists of loads of photo and video sharing so talking about the camera is important. Apple shoved in one of the better 8MP cameras out there. ON face value, you’d think this is underpowered for 2017 but the 5s outshines most phones in its budget and for being a 4 year old phone it hold up well. The camera features an f/2.2 aperture, autofocus, 1/3” sensor and the reason it shines in low-light situations, a 1.5 micron pixel size. This just means that there are larger pixels than normal smartphone cameras and they let in more light which is essential in taking photos at night or in darker rooms. The front facing camera tends to disappoint though. Its a 1.2 MP camera and it does a good job for itself but don’t expect to be taking earth shattering selfies with this. There are better selfie cameras out there. Even Infinix will get you a better selfie camera that this.

I should stop hating on Infinix.

Lastly, performance is great as I had mentioned before on iOS 10.3.1 with the specs being fairly good. Most Android smartphones now cling to the octagon-core moniker in the hope that it means more power and its true, a power hungry OS needs that many cores but the 5s performs quite well on a dual core 1.3GHz Cyclone processor (Apple makes its own custom chips.) along with a gigabyte of RAM and a PowerVR quad-core graphics chip. All this means is that despite the occasional stutter, the phone handles day to day tasks well. It can’t keep as many apps in the background as say an iPhone 6s or the 7 with 2GB of RAM but it will handle day to day tasks and light gaming well.

The big question at the end of all this is should you get an iPhone 5s right now? Not really. First, you’d rather save up your money and get a comparable Android device with better specs and general performance. A Samsung would be a great pick. Depending on where you find it, this phone could go from 15,000 used to 32,000 new. If you still want an iPhone however, you can check out the iPhone 6 with a more updated design, a bigger screen and probably another two years of updates on its hands. If you still want the feel of the 5s with more power, save up a little bit more and get the SE. Its a little 6s which is a big thing in 2017.

So I hope that you liked this review of the iPhone 5s in 2017. Leave a comment on what phone you’re using and why you like it or hate it and we’ll keep on chatting below!

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