iPhone 5S

“The best iPhone yet, featuring a great camera and the TouchID fingerprint sensor. The high price will put many off, but you’ll find a lot of joy in this phone whether you’re an iPhone fan or if you’ve been sitting on the fence. It’s more than just an iterative update.”

The iPhone 5S: a phone that looks like the iPhone 5, but goes so much further under the hood. Is that going to be enough to impress the baying hordes?

I feel like I’ve been here before: the iPhone ‘S’ conundrum. A new phone comes along, taking the shell of the previous model, adds some new bits and pieces, and then claims to be an entirely new phone.

Which it is, of course. But also it isn’t. Well, mostly is. It’s the kind of move that only Apple can pull off with any kind of conviction: the notion that it can take the same chassis, have a little tinker, throw in a new CPU, slightly better battery and camera, and call it an all-conquering device.

There are a few who question whether it’s ‘fair’ to launch a phone and then append an ‘S’ to the same thing a year later – Apple’s response would likely be that nobody is forcing you to buy the new hardware. And that’s a fair point. Yes, this is a phone that bears far too many hallmarks of its predecessor. And yes, this is the third time Apple has done this.

The time is now right for the iPhone 6, with its larger screen and greater abilities inside and out. It’s the first time in years we’ve had a real update to the iPhone design, and its release should give you pause if you’re looking at buying an iPhone 5S right now.

The 5S is still one of the most expensive smartphones on the market right now, even on 3G plans – although thankfully the price has started to fall.

You’ll still be looking at around £30 a month to get one without an upfront fee, but Apple has dropped its SIM-free prices following the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus releases. The 16GB model is now £459, while the 32GB version will set you back £499. The 64GB variant has vanished as an option.

Apple is obviously aware of this change, be it the aluminium unibody of the HTC One M8, the new fight into low-light cameras or the need for a strong processor as a headline to shout about. And to be fair, it’s addressed these needs to some degree or other on the iPhone 5S.

Whether it’s the Touch ID home button (which is excellent, more on that later), the jump in CPU power or the fact the camera has, once again, been improved no end, the iPhone 5S is clearly Apple’s attempt at bringing as much as it can to the party without having to re-design the whole concept all over again.

There are many that think releasing the same design twice is cheeky, and there are others who realise that sometimes there’s no need for change. It’s easy to fall into the former camp, and while Apple will happily point out it’s not forcing anyone to buy its phones, its acutely aware the competition is now scarily strong and it needed to bring its best to stay relevant.

 

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