First iPhone 5s Reviews: Touch ID a 'Real Advance', Two-Tone Flash Produces 'Lovely Results'

At its September 10 iPhone event, Apple provided multiple publications with iPhone 5s review units. The embargo has now lifted on review posts, so we have gathered some relevant excerpts from each site in order to highlight general release reactions to Apple’s iPhone 5s.

iphone5s

Jim Dalrymple, The Loop

Setting up a fingerprint is as easy as resting your finger on the Home button and following the onscreen instructions. The button will vibrate when it’s reading; lift your finger and rest it on the button again; and repeat until it’s done. Very simple.

Speed increases are something we expect with new Apple products, but the iPhone 5s goes above and beyond expectations. In addition to the faster processor, the iPhone 5s is also the world’s first 64-bit phone. These changes make the 5s up to twice as fast as the iPhone 5—that’s a significant increase.

Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the fingerprint sensor as a whiz-bang feature designed to attract eyeballs and do little else. But this isn’t that. The fingerprint sensor, unlike some other questionable recent smartphone tech like gesture control or eye-tracking, doesn’t feel like a gimmick or tech demo; it feels like a mature feature that actually enhances the overall experience of using an iPhone in a noticeable way that you encounter very frequently.

Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD

All my pictures were slightly sharper than on the iPhone 5 and low-light pictures were much less washed out by the flash. The camera app has been improved, with a new burst mode that takes many shots quickly and then picks the best ones, and a slow-motion video feature that lets you choose parts of an action sequence to slow down. It worked seamlessly.

Myriam Joire, Engadget

First, let’s tackle the camera’s low-light performance. The shots we took with the 5s were consistently better than what we took with the 5: they were sharper, with finer details, more natural colors and far less noise. As you might expect, our daylight shots were roughly on par, though there were a few times when the 5s won out by a slight margin, offering just a little more detail. All told, the 5s plays in the same league as all those other flagships with a bigger emphasis on imaging.

Even so, our sample shots still showed more noise and less detail than the same images taken with the Nokia Lumia 1020. The 5s also does a good job of reproducing color, but it’s not the best performer in this category, either. Make no mistake, though: the iPhone has been – and continues to be – great as a simple grab-and-go camera. It may not be a best-in-class performer, but the vast majority of iPhone users will still be happy.

Edward Baig, USA Today

Apple hasn’t opened up Touch ID yet to outside app developers, something I’d like to see happen sooner than later. The company has also delayed release of a feature called iCloud Keychain that would let you store all your Web passwords in the cloud. So in the future you might be able to use your fingerprint to get past all your Web passwords, making Touch ID potentially more powerful.

One thing not seen elsewhere is the True Tone flash system in the 5s. It is based on two flashes working in tandem to automatically determine the intensity and best combination of flashes. I got generally lovely results taking flash photos, though I noticed it sometimes took an extra second or so before the camera actually took a picture.

Scott Stein, CNET:

The Touch ID-enabled home button feels invisible; it works with a tap, can recognize your finger from many angles, and feels like it has less of a fail rate than fingerprint sensors I’ve used on laptops. It’s impressive tech. It worked on all my fingers, and even my toe (I was curious).

David Pogue, The New York Times

The most heavily promoted feature is the 5S’s fingerprint sensor, which, ingeniously, is built into the Home button. You push the Home button to wake the phone, leave your finger there another half second, and boom: you’ve unlocked a phone that nobody else can unlock, without the hassle of inputting the password. (And yes, a password is a hassle; half of smartphone users never bother setting one up.)

The best part is that it actually works — every single time, in my tests. It’s nothing like the balky, infuriating fingerprint-reader efforts of earlier cellphones. It’s genuinely awesome; the haters can go jump off a pier.

Other reviews:

Luke Peters, T3
Anand Shimpi, AnandTech
Stuart Miles, Pocket-Lint

Apple’s iPhone 5s will be available to the public beginning on September 20, with orders beginning at 12:01 AM Pacific Time.

Top Rated Comments

Dulcimer Avatar
105 months ago
Yes it's an evolutionary step forward.... but many of us will be awaiting the 6 in a year.

:D

This probably won't be a popular opinion, but I find the 5s to be one of Apple's most innovative iPhones ever.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rogifan Avatar
105 months ago
Boring, and I will wait till they make a bigger iPhone.

Thanks for letting us know. We'll all sleep better tonight now. :)
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cclloyd Avatar
105 months ago
It’s impressive tech. It worked on all my fingers, and even my toe (I was curious).
Anyone else a little more curious?
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
3282868 Avatar
105 months ago
Just wait, hundreds will complain the sensor doesn't work when it's launched, "Finger Gate" prompts Jonny Ive to reply, "You're holding it wrong". :p
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chupa Chupa Avatar
105 months ago
What's innovative about it, other than the fingerprint sensor which has a fairly minimal functional value for most people?
Since when is security a "minimal" feature? People may not use a password but they'll use the fingerprint sensor because it works and it's painless... unlike passwords. Guarantee you that these type of sensors will be "must have" and standard on mid and high end phones in 2014. But Apple is the first to get it right. Yes, that is what innovation is about -- making something in a novel way so that it's practical to use.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
notabadname Avatar
105 months ago
Great review. I agree with the difference in useful new game-changing tech and what i find to be annoying tech such as eyeball tracking. And yes, I demoed it- really can be frustrating if you are sharing a video for example with someone next to you, as you look towards that person and away from your phone, it can pause the video. And much to the disappointment of the Samsung rep demoing it to me, it proved to be very unpredictable. And waving my hand in the air in front of my phone to swipe images is in no way more natural than dragging my thumb across the screen. I bet most of those gimmicky things end up never being used after the first few days of playing with them.

The fingerprint sensor however, very brilliant - the best step yet toward phone security and a digital wallet.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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