Apple iPhone 5s review: Step by step

GSMArena team, 27 September 2013.

Tags: Apple, iOS

Completely redesigned Photos app

The Photos app has been redesigned more thoroughly. To begin with, the Photos tab looks better organized. Prior to iOS 7 we used to get a grid of all of photos there, sorted by date. Images are now organized by date and location, for those that have been geo-tagged. This view is called Moments, with a description always at the top, with time, place and date.

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Moments view • Taping on a place label will take you to the map

The Moments view offers multiple photos selection - you can select an entire folder with just a single tap. Mass Delete, Share (including AirDrop) and Add To Album options are available.

You can go a step back, to Collections view where you can better view your sorted photos into groups with labels and much smaller thumbs. Those thumbs are still clickable, you can even scroll them to find the one you're looking for (small thumbs are hard to navigate through though).

Apple iPhone 5s
Collections view

A tap on a city label in Moments or Collections will take you to the old Places view, where you get a map with pins showing where exactly your photos were taken.

Finally, there is the Year view. It squeezes your collection into tight grids for each year.

Apple iPhone 5s
Year view

The second tab is Shared photos - it has all your Photo streams. Photo Stream, which acts like a social sub-network, works really well and is very simple to set up. You choose what pictures to share and which people to share with. Your buddies on the receiving end will be able to like them and post comments. You can invite users you want to share your Photo Streams with via email or get invited.

Apple iPhone 5s
Shared photo streams

Finally, the third tab is albums. You get three default album types - camera roll, my photo stream and panoramas. Albums can be added, edited and deleted.

Images are displayed in full size and you can delete, share or edit them. From the sharing menu you also get advanced options such as copy, assign to contact, slideshow, print, use as wallpaper and AirPlay.

You can AirDrop multiple pictures from this interface as well.

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Viewing a single image • sharing options

The photo editor is the same as before with a new option to add filters. It supports rotation, cropping, filters and red-eye removal. There's also an Enhance option too. In Edit mode five keys appear at the bottom for the available editing options.

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The image editor

Every new iPhone 5s offers you iPhoto and iMovie powerful Apple apps for free. The iPhoto allows you also to organize your photos by albums and events and you can even create journals - collages of photos you can share via iCould and make it visible to anyone.

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Apple iPhone 5c Apple iPhone 5c Apple iPhone 5c Apple iPhone 5c
iPhoto

The iPhoto app has richer editing options than the standard gallery, but its UI needs to be updated to match the iOS 7 looks. Not it just looks ... retro.

Finally, the powerful iMovie editor is available for free as well, you just need to download it once you sign in on the AppStore. You can make your own movies and trailers by adding, cutting, merging, etc. videos, songs and pictures. The app is nicely functional and performs excellently on the A7 chipset.

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Apple iPhone 5c Apple iPhone 5c Apple iPhone 5c
iMovie

Limited video player

Many things have changed in iOS 7 but the video player is definitely not one of them. You can upload only supported formats via iTunes or purchase videos from the iTunes store. This is an extremely disappointing showing by a platform that is supposed to excel at multimedia consumption.

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The video player

The lack of extra functionality is bad enough, but having to use just an extremely limited number of media format or resorting to converting files, which is both slow and inconvenient is a real deal-breaker.

Music and iTunes Radio

The iOS 7 music player is exactly the same as the one in iOS 6, its appearance is in line with the new iOS design. You can create playlists, delete songs right from within the player and reorder tabs whichever way you like.

Cover Flow is gone for good replaced by the new Album view - you access it by flipping the device landscape. It lists all the covers to the albums you have in your library. Tapping on an album thumb lists all the tracks in it.

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Album view

The Now Playing screen hasn't changed in functionality neither is the settings. Even in its seventh major iteration iOS still fails to offer configurable equalizers.

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Music player

If you are logged in with a US Apple ID (the service will roll out in more countries soon), your iOS 7 music player will get an additional iTunes Radio tab. It's a music streaming service with the entire iTunes content available for streaming.

The stations are divided by genres, but once you add a station, you can choose to remove artists or add more songs from an artist/group. You can preview a station before adding it to your list.

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iTunes Radio

In case you like a particular song, you can buy it with just one tap. History is available and you can always return to buy songs later. A Wish List is available as well.

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iTunes Radio Now Playing UI • Playing ads

iTunes Radio is ad-free if you are using iTunes Match. Otherwise, every 7 to 10 songs are broken by about 15sec of commercials.

Flagship-worthy audio output

Apple smartphones have never disappointed when it comes to audio quality and the iPhone 5s makes no exception. In the active external amplifier part of the test, the iPhone 5s did perfectly and even outdid the iPhone 5c with lower stereo crosstalk. Its volume levels were just as high as on the 5c, which makes them one of the best in business, second only to the HTC One and Butterfly.

The second trial produced equally impressive scores. The iPhone 5s again managed to beat its lower-tier brother by the virtue of its better stereo and was overall as close to perfect as it gets.

Check out the numbers and see for yourselves.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Apple iPhone 5s+0.02, -0.05-93.693.70.00130.0068-90.3
Apple iPhone 5s (headphones attached)+0.12, -0.00-93.493.30.00160.060-76.1
Apple iPhone 5c+0.01, -0.04-93.993.80.00130.0066-80.3
Apple iPhone 5c (headphones attached)+0.02, -0.07-93.793.70.00160.052-61.7
Apple iPhone 5+0.06, -0.51-91.391.30.00150.0093-76.5
Apple iPhone 5 (headphones attached)+0.00, -0.26-90.690.60.00350.111-56.2
LG G2+0.03, -0.28-91.991.90.0097 0.011-91.3
LG G2 (headphones attached)+0.07, -0.03-91.591.80.037 0.041-54.3
HTC One+0.11, -0.14-92.491.20.0012 0.013-92.4
HTC One (headphones attached)+0.16, -0.07-92.190.90.014 0.055-70.8
Samsung Galaxy S4+0.03, -0.08-95.993.20.0030 0.0092-96.4
Samsung Galaxy S4 (headphones attached)+0.03, -0.08-96.093.30.0031 0.089-95.5

Apple iPhone 5s frequency response
Apple iPhone 5s frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

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