iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S: What’s the difference?

Vs Paul Briden 12:05, 12 Sep 2013

How is the iPhone 5S different from the iPhone 5?

Now that the iPhone 5S is here, existing iPhone 5 users may be wondering what all the fuss is about and whether it’s worth an upgrade. For those who haven’t got an iPhone and are considering buying one, Apple’s made the decision easy for you by discontinuing the iPhone 5 – so if you want the premium model you can only get the iPhone 5S now. The iPhone 5 will, however, continue to be supported by Apple in terms of updates, technical support and so on.

Design and build

On the whole not much has changed on the outside in terms of shape, proportions and build materials. Like the iPhone 5 the iPhone 5S still has an aluminium unibody and a glass front panel.

Both phones feel very well made and quite solid in the hand, as well as being extraordinarily lightweight.

You’ve got a new set of colour options with space grey (which has black trim), silver (with white trim) and ‘champagne gold’ (also with white trim), while the older iPhone 5 has your standard black or white variants.

The only other visible change is the metallic trim around the Home button on the iPhone 5S.


The display hasn’t changed one iota between the two models, each has the same 4-inch IPS LCD with an 1136x640 pixel resolution at 326 pixels-per-inch (ppi). Apple’s stuck to a smaller display as it sees it as an optimum size for one-handed use and multimedia consumption. In terms of picture quality it’s nice and sharp with punchy colours and excellent brightness levels.


We don’t yet have all the grisly details about Apple’s new A7 processor but preliminary benchmarks currently emerging would appear to suggest Apple’s claims that it’s twice as fast as the older A6 chip found in the iPhone 5 are true. The A7 chip uses 64-bit architecture and is the first smartphone processor of its kind.

It’ll still run existing app and gaming content very quickly indeed, just like the iPhone 5 already does, but as app developers start to create 64-bit tailored content you should notice things getting even speedier. Gaming should also get a graphical boost thanks to support for Open GL ES 3.0.

Both setups are dual-core with the iPhone 5’s A6 processor being clocked at 1.3GHz and some reports suggesting the A7 is clocked to around 1.7GHz. Both also have 1GB of RAM.

Internal storage is the same on both models as each comes in the usual crop of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage variants and there’s no microSD card support to be found.

Another significant hardware change is the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S’s Home button. This is used to unlock the device, rather than entering a password or PIN, and can also be used for making app and content purchases via iTunes. Apple isn’t unlocking the Touch ID function for developers though, so don’t expect apps which utilise it in the future.

That means it’s a bit of a limited feature and not one I’m all that bothered about, I certainly wouldn’t upgrade from the iPhone 5 just for Touch ID.


Battery life on the iPhone 5 is already pretty good thanks to Apple’s optimisations and the pack itself is rated at 1,440mAh. The iPhone 5S’s battery is the same, but battery life should, according to Apple, be improved as it promises 40 hours of music playback and 10 hours of browsing or video playback.


Both handsets use Apple’s 8-megapixel iSight setup. The iPhone 5’s camera remains an excellent choice but with the iPhone 5S Apple has tweaked a few things to improve imaging performance. Notably it has a larger f/2.2 aperture, uses a larger pixel size, an improved back-illuminated sensor (BSI), a Hybrid IR filter and a dual-LED flash with both amber and white LEDs.

The iPhone 5S’s camera now starts adjusting automatically when you get ready to take a picture to try and enhance the shot as much as possible, the LED flash adapts dynamically to lighting conditions and is designed to produce more natural colour while performing better in low-light.

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