4 Reasons You Need the iPhone 5S and 5 Reasons You Don’t

For those of you keeping score, that's nine total reasons

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Apple

Welcome to the bifurcated future of Apple smartphones: aluminum vs. polycarbonate, gilded vs. candy-colored, fingerprint scanner vs. fingerprint magnet, 64 bit vs. 32 bit, high end vs. low end, expensive vs. slightly less expensive, iPhone 5S vs. iPhone 5C. Post–Steve Jobs Apple clearly recognizes the one-size-fits-all approach is a losing proposition; add the company’s perpetuation of its now free (with contract) iPhone 4S to the parade, and you’ve got the Cupertino trifecta.

Or do you? The iPhone 5C, basically an iPhone 5 wrapped in colorized plastic, while cheaper when viewed as a core iPhone, isn’t as budget-priced as most predicted (predicted being punditry’s euphemism for wishfully projected). And the 3.5-inch (8.9 cm) iPhone 4S, while still competent in the performance department, looks pretty squeezed in 2013 contrasted with the 4-in. (10.2 cm) iPhone 5 family and embiggened phones from competitors like HTC and Samsung.

Which leaves the souped-up iPhone 5S. Time to spring for one? Here’s the pros angle:

Your contract’s up.

Bullet point, meet Captain Obvious. If you’re due for an upgrade, you can get your foot in the door with a 16-GB iPhone 5S for just $199, same as I did when I bought my 16-GB iPhone 5 a year ago. If you’re thinking the $99 16-GB iPhone 5C looks tastier, price-wise, think again — the iPhone 5S’s feature and performance leaps are probably worth at least the $100 gulf. Were I off contract, I’d buy the iPhone 5S in a heartbeat, no ifs, ands or buts.

You want to play the most graphically advanced games as smoothly as possible.

The A7 processor beating at the core of Apple’s iPhone 5S sounds like a mobile beast. According to Apple, it’s up to twice as fast as the already peppy A6 processor found in the iPhone 5 and utilizes over a billion transistors (without getting any bigger). I’d just be guessing about Infinity Blade III’s performance iPhone to iPhone, since no one’s benchmarked it yet, but doubtless more advanced games are on the way, and if you plan to hold on to the 5S for a full two-year contract cycle, you won’t be as far behind the curve if you choose to skip the iPhone 6.

You need a better low-light camera.

This one’s a stretch, because the physical improvements are more like tweaks, but for optics wonks, the iPhone 5S’s iSight camera (rear facing) is slightly larger than the iPhone 5’s, its f-number dropping from f/2.4 to f/2.2 (lower is better), which basically means it’ll outperform the iPhone 5 in low-light situations. It’ll also do auto image stabilization, allowing you to take multiple photos at once and combine the sharpest parts of each. It has a more nuanced flash, and you can access a new burst mode (hold the shutter to snap up to 10 frames per second) or use a SloMo camera app that lets you shoot video at up to 120 frames per second at 720p.

You desperately want a gold (or silver, or — uh — “space gray”) iPhone.

Hey, some people still buy jewelry, so I guess having an iPhone in bling colors is important for someone out there.

And now, the dimmer view:

You already own an iPhone 5.

This one’s a rule of thumb: never buy the phone that comes after the one you last bought. If you have an iPhone 5, the iPhone 5C is pointless, while the iPhone 5S is to your phone what the iPhone 4S was to the iPhone 4. The faster processor, the better low-light camera, the fingerprint scanner — all modest improvements, not must-haves like a leap to AMOLED-screen tech might be, or a width bump to hit a 5-in. (12.7 cm) diagonal.

Unless you’re carelessly wealthy, in other words, there aren’t enough reasons — especially if you’re on contract, which you probably are, since the iPhone 5’s only been with us since September 2012 — to make the incremental switch.

64 bit is meaningless right now.

People still conflate memory address and data-path widths with metrics like processor speed, seeing the bigger numbers and assuming they mean faster in terms of raw integer or floating-point performance. I blame the Nintendo 64, sporting a number mostly designed to p.r.-hassle Sony’s 32-bit PlayStation and Sega’s dual 32-bit processor Saturn.

A 64-bit processor offers significant benefits if you want to address more memory, but applications have to be written to take advantage of its architecture. Don’t fall for the marketing hype: the A7 processor’s 64-bit-ness is about future-proofing, which is an argument for waiting and giving developers a chance to catch up.

Battery life’s probably no better.

All Apple’s said about the iPhone 5S’s battery life so far is that the A7 processor delivers more without draining the lithium-ion pond any faster. Translation: battery life’s probably about the same as the iPhone 5’s.

Secure fingerprint scanners aren’t necessarily secure.

When I was with a Fortune 500 transportation company in the early 2000s (and post-9/11), I worked with a security team looking into biometric authentication tools (consumer-grade fingerprint-scanning technology has been around for over a decade in consumer tech — it’s hardly as “innovative” as Apple’s Phil Schiller suggests). When I left in 2004, the company was still looking for something secure enough. As security analyst Bruce Schneier aptly puts it in an op-ed for Wired, “Your fingerprint isn’t a secret; you leave it everywhere you touch.”

I’m not saying a fingerprint scanner on a smartphone can’t be interesting or cool or a smidgen more convenient (or safer while driving) for authentication than tapping out a pass code, but don’t kid yourself: fingerprint scanners are eminently hackable, and buying an iPhone 5S for this feature alone, mistaking it for Batman- or James Bond–caliber tech, is a bad idea.

Your contract isn’t up.

Have $649, $749 or $849 burning a hole in your pocket to pay the out-of-contract full price for the 16-GB, 32-GB or 64-GB iPhone 5S respectively? Me neither.

131 comments
Nick1953
Nick1953

Just bought the Apple 5s on Saturday.  BIG Mistake.  What a piece of crap.  The battery lasts approx. 2 hours and that's not running anything, just sitting on a table.  Also don't buy the "lifeproof"  case, I tried 7 times to register it and each time I got to the part to send it, the blue line would only go about 1/2 inch then would lock.  After 3-5 minutes I would get a message saying the "connection has been lost."  I think this is a built in "fail" so the company doesn't have to honor any claims since it's impossible to register.  If they really cared, one would be able to register it from a computer but I tried that and received the "the page you are trying to access...blah, blah, blah.  It also will not let you restart from the point you left off, you have to go through the whole process again from the very beginning.  It's  good thing my wife was in the room, if she hadn't of been I would have thrown it across the room. 


Don't buy the Apple 5s and DO NOT purchase the "Lifeproof" case.  Both are junk.




Anonymous284
Anonymous284

Wow.....who knew that a topic like this would attract so many Fagdroid and Crapple fanboys? I'm just sticking with my Nokia 3310.

Rue213
Rue213

lmao 'advance games'.... I dont see any copper heat pipes & aluminum fines & or 8x 120mm case fans sticking out of that thing.... lmao @ 200$ price hike from a 16gb model to a 64gb, i bought my sandisk microsdxc for 45$ on ebay shipped to my door. lmao what kind of  halfwit covets a laughable pathetic device such as the iphone whatever they call it now.

treeow
treeow

Ok, nevermind I just figured it out, for turning off app on the new iphone 5 c it does work the same as iphone 4s except instead of holding one of the apps down until they go into wiggle mode, you simple "swipe up wards" with the apps and it kills them or makes them disappear (stop running) pretty slick ...

treeow
treeow

before you would just push the home button twice real quick which brought up the apps, it seems different now and i cant the apps to turn off or stop running like on the iphone 4s


treeow
treeow

how do i kill apps i'm not using ? it doesn't work like it did with iphone 4 i have the iphone 5 c now? anyone know how to do it?

meringo
meringo

I have a Galaxy Note 2 that I got about 6 months ago. Someone has an upgrade on my family plan but has no interest in cell phones at all. Should I use the upgrade on an iPhone? I love android, but I have had so many problems with my Samsungs in the past... GPS, network issues, things I didn't have with my previous Moto and HTC.

jrotsburg
jrotsburg

Please confirm: The IPhone 5S can ONLY be unlocked with fingerprint??

NO option to do ALSO code unlocking if prefer????

ramgopal
ramgopal

hey guys.what if we does'nt use the phone for 2 years.
if we does so we will not get any monthly bill.....
after the contract time we need not to pay.
am i right??
plz reply me someone

nellydesign
nellydesign

If you have Verizon, the 4S still costs $49.  Not Free.  4 is still free, but 4S is not.

jdfergason
jdfergason

Wow have the tides turned... it used to be that Apple could do no wrong in the media's eyes.  Now the opposite seems to be true!  The frustrating part is that these articles are mostly worthless drivel written by people with less than a clue about technology proclaiming themselves to be the gatekeepers of innovation with out having a firm grasp of technology themselves.

I personally believe that Apple has achieved something worthwhile with the 5s.

A 64-bit processor is not just about memory addressing.  There are a lot of complexities surrounding processor design and the number of bits used for addressing and register size are only one of them.  In fact, for some applications 64-bit can offer significant performance advantages (for example some video applications and scientific computing) and in others it can actually perform slightly slower than a similar 32-bit architecture!  All this to say that a lot goes into a processor and we don't have all the details on the A7.  What really matters is the benchmark metric that the processor is 2x as fast as the previous generation and 40x faster than iphone gen 1.  That's impressive and apple doesn't have a history of lying on benchmarks like some companies.  If it really is 2x faster that's a real leap forward and opens the possibility to applications that previously weren't feasible in a mobile device.

The camera functionality in the 5s is very impressive.  I think it might be the biggest advancement in the phone.  The fact that apple is not trying to play the numbers game with MP is commendable and it's impressive that they are actually talking about noise and aperture... things professional photographers actually do care about.  I have an iphone 4s and the most consistent issue I have with pictures off the phone are that they are blurry.  The 16 point auto-focus and stabilized lens will help with this; that's an innovation in my book.

Third, the idea for a finger print sensor in a phone may not be new but it's the implementation that's interesting.  Just having the idea to use a fingerprint to unlock your phone is not innovative.  Managing to produce all the technology to make it work reliably and easily is another story all together.  Yes, other phones have put finger print readers in the phone.  But no phone has been able to do it in such a way that it was easy enough to use to make it useful--hence why it's not mainstream today.  I think Apple has a good chance of having done this.  It's just like trying to browse the web on a phone before safari came along.  It was so crippled and difficult to use that no one really used it that much.  Then safari mobile came along and completely changed the user experience so that it was easy and fast enough to make it useable.

In my mind this is what distinguishes Apple from the rest of the tech industry.  They don't do technology for technologies sake.  They use technology to make everyday tasks easier for every day people.  Sure they make a lot of money doing it but isn't that part of the goal of a business.  It's not like Google or Samsung are charities--their out to make a profit too and as much as they possibly can.  If they didn't make money at it they would just be bankrupt because they failed to produce products that people want.

This is in stark contrast to their competition who seem to put technology in that has no clear benefit and often doesn't work that well.  At the end of the day this is why I use an iPhone.  It works.  It works well.  If Apple announces a feature more often than not it works the way they say it will.  And while the upfront cost may be high; I end getting a lot more value out of the device than I did from the devices of competing products.

greygri
greygri

I have been using my blackberry bold for the past few years (don't ask me how). And I am either going to buy a Samsung S4 or wait a few more days for the Iphone 5s. After checking out Apple Canada website, I noticed that the price for the 32gb is 819$+tax. How ridiculous. I think I am insulted, and going to buy and S4 for almost half the price. I don't think I'm doing the wrong thing-do you?

JustMeAgain
JustMeAgain

Apple needs to market a phone that has a bigger screen.  The iPhone 5 screen was not that much bigger.  After the 18-25 market, the largest age group buying smart phones is the 55+ crowd.  They are buying the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Motorola Razor HD because it has a bigger screen.  The iPhone screen is too small for older folks.  Baby boomers still have a lot of pull in the marketplace today.  Apple better wise up and make a bigger screen.

cleverlyc
cleverlyc

If you think "you’re due for an upgrade" you are exactly the sort of sucker they are looking for!

Is your phone broken? Do you NEED to agree to a new two-year $2,400 contract for a 'free' phone?

therealgabes
therealgabes

If you are with AT&T or VZW and have an IPhone, then yes you can keep it. If you do not have an IPhone already, then they will make you change it. I would call and ask first to make sure this is still the case, but I am almost certain that it is. Good Luck!

ksirivelu
ksirivelu

I need advice on my situation if you could.  I have an unlimited data plan and don't want to lose it.  But, at the same time, I'm balking at the thought of paying the full price for the new iphone.  My contract is over now.  I request possible options for me.  Thanks.

faydo
faydo

all i did wasjust sell my iPhone 5 for $650 so i could get the 5s. Sure, now I gotta pay the sales tax on it but whatever  its better than signing a 2 yr contract.

SoBig
SoBig

Essentially necessary.  Beam Me Up Scotty.

MartaMaraPaglianni
MartaMaraPaglianni

So what happens when I am hiking with a buddy or somewhere away from anybody but still getting a signal. Suddenly my friend has a heart attack/accident or he/she and I must call 911 or someone. Then I realized that I left my phone at home. But hey my friend did bring a phone to our venture. Then while my friend in unconscious and gasping for air I try to call for help then I am not able since Is the wrong finger print.  SO will the new 5S still works for emergency calls even with the wrong finger dialing?

soneo
soneo

Finally,

(Android vs Apple) == (More vs Better)

soneo
soneo

Apple believes in making the best possible phone giving users a best possible experience. They don't sell their phone with numbers, but actually work to make it better without it. Every company markets their products aggressively, why single out Apple. The control center is a perfect example. Instead of cramming every single possible setting notification in the pull down menu, Apple decided to split the two in iOS 7, making it simpler, elegant and more functional with a few handy controls which is all that is needed. 


soneo
soneo

8: Screen Size

Of course, 5 is better than 4, so is 6 and 7. So is samsung going to make a mobile phone which is 7 inches ? Once again the idea is to fool the consumer with numbers without taking into account battery life, ease of use, apps compatibility with new resolution. Apple will never ship a device that has so many user experience related drawbacks.

Anonymous284
Anonymous284

Your grammar is bad and you should feel bad... (Take it from me, I'm 11!)

meringo
meringo

And the HTC camera leaves me irk'd. It's good, but rather mediocre compared to competition. The G2, S4, hell that dumb nokia.

varase
varase

@JustMeAgain The key is not the screen size, but the physical size of the type.

iOS7 allows you to adjust the type size. Does Android?

hiram.clarke92
hiram.clarke92

@ksirivelu my wife's boss also has a grandfather plan and even my brother (at&t). You can still renew to a new 2yr contract to get the phone you want and the plan you have won't be touch.

varase
varase

@ksirivelu AT&T allows you buy a subsidized phone ... Verizon does not.

AFAIK, if you have a grandfathered unlimited plan on Verizon, you can't both get the subsidy and keep unlimited.

shirleyb21
shirleyb21

@ksirivelu My contract is up too and I also have the unlimited data plan, so I will be getting the new phone.  If you decide to get the new phone just tell them you want to keep your current plan.  I did this for my husband when he upgraded to the Iphone5 with AT&T and he still has his unlimited data plan.  You should be able to get the new phone at a discount price for signing up for another 2 yr contract.

spinone
spinone

@MartaMaraPaglianni 

Hmmm...just use your dead friend's finger to unlock the phone. Please tell me you're NOT a rocket scientist. Never mind, way too painful to have to read another of your posts.

emastmagy
emastmagy

@MartaMaraPaglianni You don't need to bypass the home screen security to make emergency calls. The law in US and Canada detects that the device should have an easy access to 911 (locked or unlocked)

coder.slynk
coder.slynk

@soneo "Apple decided to split the two in iOS 7, making it simpler, elegant and more functional with a few handy controls which is all that is needed. "

soneo: "6: A software feature is NOT Innovation"


WOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

coder.slynk
coder.slynk

@soneo You're right. Apple would never spend the time and money on a user experience that people enjoy. Apple's stratagy has always been to limit their supported products. That doesn't mean it's the right thing to do... you know, a iPhablet would have gone over much better than the iPad mini. But again, you don't know what you're talking about.

KyleHikalea
KyleHikalea

@soneo This is probably the dumbest thing I've ever read. Vizio tricked me into paying an extra $400 for my TV because it was a 60 inch instead of a 46 inch? 4 inches is too small for a lot of people. How are you managing to try and word this as if there's something wrong with someone that doesn't want the smallest screen on the market? And what about the 6 other phone manufacturers besides Samsung that make a 5+ inch phone? Seems to me like there's 7 companies offering a choice, and 1 that isn't.

MartaMaraPaglianni
MartaMaraPaglianni

@ClairCollins @MartaMaraPaglianni I am talking about using my friend's phone who maybe in dire emergency help. I would think that it would be protected only to be use by the assigned person and probably with the right amount of pressure.  It may not be a rocket science now but when an emergency situation comes up is a totally different story. 

varase
varase

@KyleHikalea @soneo Except they separated notifications from control center, so while you're swiping through notifications you can't accidentally trigger a settings change.

ranasjsu
ranasjsu

@coder.slynk @soneo So you are complaining about something that has not even been launched? @coder.slynk  your comments are funny and it seems like you are delusional or something. People who buy iPhone enjoy the experience, people who don't buy something else. You clearly have no idea what to say.


karachay40
karachay40

@MartaMaraPaglianni @ClairCollins You never need to unlock the iphone to make emergency calls. There is a button that says "Emergency" which you can press before unlocking the phone. It will let you place a 911 call. This is not a problem.