The iPhone 5S turns out to be better than expected

The iPhone 5S turns out to be better than expected

When Apple launched the first iPhone six years ago, it was five years ahead of its time.

Five years later, that is no longer the case. Faced with stiff competition, the iPhone has been constantly criticised for not being able to catch up with its Android rivals with bigger screens, better processors and more advanced operating system.

This is why many, including existing iPhone owners, were left disappointed with the recently announced iPhone 5S.

I suppose that many of you are assuming that I would agree with everyone, but on the contrary, I am actually impressed with the iPhone 5S. There, I said it!

Before you start calling me an Apple fanboy, let me remind you that I'm currently living in the Google ecosystem and I'm happy with that. In fact, I have never owned an iPhone in my life, nor am I planning to in the future.

I personally feel that the iPhone is great for being what it is: an iPhone. The iPhone 5S is what the iPhone 5 should have been. It may not be the overall best smartphone out there right now, but it's the best iPhone to date that any existing iPhone user would be happy with.

In the case of the new 5S, this isn't like the last incremental upgrade of the previous iPhones bearing the 's' moniker. Sure, there's the usual speed bump under the hood and better camera, but they are a huge deal this time around, and that fingerprint scanner on the home button really sets the 5 and the 5S apart.

There have been gripes about how the iPhone 5S lacks a lot of features found in Android phones, but Apple has taken out what it thinks is unnecessary and focused on things that matter the most.

There is no NFC (Near Field Communications) on the iPhone 5S, but Apple sees that NFC has not really taken off yet. Many high end Android phones have NFC, but I bet that it's hardly used by the user as there is no sufficient NFC infrastructure put in place yet. If there is, I would be unlocking doors and paying my stuff entirely with my phone by now.

The iPhone 5S retains the 4-inch screen. While a larger screen certainly has its merits (more information displayed at once), it's almost impossible for one-hand use.

In addition, the Retina Display may not seem like a step down from today's full HD 1080p Android smartphones, but it's more than enough to display crisp visuals.

There is still no expandable memory, but Apple is telling us that the future of mobile storage is in the cloud. Much like how the company killed the floppy disks and recently the compact discs, Apple is not sticking to obsolete technology.

The iPhone 5S isn't a quad-core phone, and that's a good thing. The competition is already coming up with 8-core processors for future high-end smartphones, but a disadvantage to having multicore architecture is that it drains a lot of battery power.

Meanwhile, Apple's dual core A7 chip, along with the m7 co-processor, demonstrates how it can give a huge performance boost without compromising battery life.

The new A7 processor is also 64-bit. That's desktop-class architecture. We have reached a point where desktop-class processors power our phones, and there's a possibility that an A7 variant could run future macs.

It's a huge leap forward in terms of performance gains, and paves the way for next-gen apps. Games look terrific as if you're playing on the latest gaming console.

The fingerprint scanner is more than just a new, more secure way to unlock the iPhone; if done right, the scanner can be used more practically such as for making online purchases.

Sometimes you just don't want to key in your username and password details whenever you need to authenticate an activity or transaction. A quick finger scan is far less redundant. That's the way of the future.

It's only a matter of time before developers start making third party apps that utilise the scanner for innovative solutions.

And then there's the new camera system.

I'm not saying that the iPhone 5S has the best camera; the Nokia Lumia 1020 arguably offers the best camera in the smartphone market right now with its 41-megapixel shooter, and Sony launched its 20-megapixel flagship Xperia Z1 prior to the 8-megapixel iPhone 5S.

The iPhone isn't after the megapixel race much like what the rivals are doing. Instead of packing in more megapixels, the iPhone 5S packs a sensor that delivers bigger pixels. Another smartphone that does a similar approach is the HTC One, which has proven that bigger pixels, not more megapixels, equals to better pictures.

The old adage still applies here: the best camera is the one you have with you. Apple realises how important this is and so it puts all those smart features in full auto so that users don't have to worry about them and just take great pictures every time.

So before you even take a picture, the camera automatically sets the exposure, white balance, ceases a dynamic local tone map, and matrix metering autofocus.

The True Tone Flash is also another useful addition that solves the common problem we face when taking pictures with direct flash in low light conditions.

Overall, pictures taken from the iPhone 5S looks great. Those who get their hands on an iPhone 5S wouldn't want a separate camera ever again. Apple is seriously putting digital compact cameras out of business.

Lastly, iOS7 may not be as sophisticated as Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, and it doesn't have to be. The iPhone experience is all about simplicity and minimalism, and there are users who do not care about heavy customisation and battery-draining widgets.

Even the average Samsung phone user still does not know how to fully customise the look and feel of their phones.

iOS7 stays true to that while making some refinements to improve the experience.

Is the iPhone 5S a worthy upgrade? For existing iPhone 5 users, there is not much that you can benefit from by upgrading to the 5S unless you need more power to run the most graphic intensive games at their best visual settings.

However, for existing iPhone users before the iPhone 5, by all means, you should upgrade to the 5S. It's time you get a taste of the 4-inch screen experience, with a more up-to-date hardware that can run the latest apps and also make you dispose of your old and obsolete compact camera.

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