The iPhone 5s was immensely popular when it came in 2013. Even now, 7 years later, you still see plenty of iPhone 5s handsets being used. But is the iPhone 5s still worth buying in 2020? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons…
The iPhone 5s was the hottest smartphone when it debuted in 2013. It was sleek, stylish, and featured new advancements like Touch ID. Matter of fact, the iPhone 5s was so popular, Apple continued manufacturing it for three years. Even so, most people STILL don’t know what the “S” in iPhone 5s stands for…
And if you’re looking for a used iPhone, one of the most common ones you’ll find available is the iPhone 5s – its ubiquity goes to show just how popular the device was! But in 2020, should you still use the device – is it still a functional phone or are you better off with a newer, refurbished iPhone like the iPhone XR?
Let’s take a look at some of its most important features.
iPhone 5s Display
The display of the iPhone 5s looks absolutely minuscule when compared to modern smartphone displays. It’s a 4-inch Retina display IPS LCD panel, 1136-by-640 resolution at 326 ppi. Even though it’s tiny by today’s standards, the display still looks gorgeous thanks to the underlying tech. It is VERY small though, so if you’re used to larger phones it might feel extremely tiny in your hands. Having said that, plenty of people want smaller phones, so if you’re after something infinitely more portable than the slab-like things we now call phones, the iPhone 5s is about as dinky as it gets.
There is talk of Apple releasing a successor to the iPhone SE inside 2020. As it stands, this phone has many names – iPhone Mini, iPhone SE 2, and iPhone R – but nothing has been confirmed just yet, so I wouldn’t go holding your breath for another 4in iPhone from Apple any time soon.
And, even if it does happen, it most likely won’t have a 4in display. Instead, it will use a similar display size to the iPhone XS or iPhone 11 Pro, around 5.8in. Still, the iPhone SE 2 could well be the first-ever $399.99 iPhone – and that in and of itself is a fairly tantalizing thing to contemplate!
iPhone 5s Connectivity
Surprisingly the iPhone 5s’ connectivity options hold up well even in 2020. The 5s offers support for Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, and Wi-Fi hotspot. It does only offer Bluetooth 4.0 but that’s enough to work with any modern Bluetooth device.
It also supports 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. With the iPhone 5s, you are virtually ensured that the phone will work in any country in the world provided you have a compatible nanoSIM card.
iPhone 5s Touch ID
The iPhone 5s was also the first to support Touch ID. And given that the 5s does have biometric authentication, it means that – from a security standpoint – it holds up pretty well in 2020.
iPhone 5s A7 Processor and RAM
Let’s talk about the A7 first. It’s a 64-bit ARM processor with two cores running at 1.29Ghz. The A7 was the world’s first 64-bit processor in a smartphone….and it freaking flew back then.
Nowadays, it’s not going to hold up well for the latest mobile games or video apps, but for standard email and web browsing, the A7 is more than enough. In Geekbench tests, the A7 scored a whopping 2560 when both cores of the A7 were in use.
In addition to the A7, the iPhone 5s also features 1 GB of RAM. Now, let’s be clear: there are plenty of smartphones out there with more RAM, and 1GB of RAM is nowhere near as much as most smartphones offer today. However, for email and web browsing, it too is more than enough.
iPhone 5s Camera
With an 8MP rear camera, the iPhone 5s doesn’t offer a compelling camera setup compared to today’s dual and triple-lens systems. However, for simple snapshots, the iPhone 5s camera is going to be fine.
It also features a “True Tone” flash, which consists of an amber LED and a white LED. The two differently colored LED flashes allow for better pictures to be taken because the dual flash works with software algorithms in iOS to adjust the flash intensity and color temperature, meaning the iPhone 5s knows the best amount of light–and which type–to emit to let you capture the most natural images possible.
iPhone 5s Storage
The iPhone 5s came in three storage options:16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. Those are tiny by today’s standards. In fact, Apple doesn’t even make 16GB iPhones anymore. And the reason? iOS takes up about 8GB of space, and that’s almost 50% of your native storage!
iPhone 5s Operating System
The original iPhone 5s shipped with iOS 7. But what’s surprising is it runs iOS all the way up to version 12.4.5. True, it won’t run iOS 13, but a 6-year-old phone running iOS 12 is pretty impressive.
iPhone 5s – Should You Buy A Used One?
Short answer: if you can get it for very, very cheap, then yes. But that’s only if you’re looking for an iPhone to use for web browsing and email. Or if you’re looking for an iPhone to give to a young child. My advice would be to get a newer model from Gazelle – you’ll save around 40% and get a much more functional phone that’ll last for years to come.
The other, key thing you’ll need to keep in mind is the battery. If the iPhone 5s you buy is used, you’ll almost certainly need to get the battery replaced – either by Apple or a third-party company.
Phone batteries degrade over time. The iPhone 5s is old and this means that its battery will have degraded considerably. The good news, however, is that getting a replacement battery is cheap and simple. It will also make your iPhone 5s run as good as new.
This won’t be too much of an issue if you’re getting a reconditioned unit, as these are all checked and assessed before they’re resold. If you’re buying via an auction site like eBay or Craig’s List, you’ll definitely want to get a fresh battery installed ASAP.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll get around 3-5 year’s worth of usage from the cell. And iOS should function just fine. iPhone batteries are the #1 reason they stop functioning; it is seldom ever the phone’s CPU or RAM.
The iPhone 5s will not get any more updates from Apple, and that means you’ll miss out on features. The battery is also very small too, and this impacts usability. Back in 2013-15, the iPhone 5s was fine. But in 2020, things have changed dramatically – apps, web stuff, it all takes up more room and requires more processing grunt. You can save a fortune on newer iPhone models, however, if you buy them refurbished – we have a guide all about this. Make sure you check it out before you go and spend almost $1000 on a new iPhone.