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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review Roundup: The iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C

A small number of technology journalists have had their hands on Apple’s new iPhones for about a week. And this time they had two phones to evaluate instead of one.

The consensus among reviewers was generally very positive. They agreed that even though the fancier phone, the iPhone 5S, looks almost exactly the same as its predecessor, it’s the insides that count: a smarter computing chip and a new button with a fingerprint scanner. They also liked the iPhone 5C, even though it is essentially an older iPhone repackaged in colorful plastic.

Following is a quick roundup of what some prominent technology writers had to say.

Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD called the iPhone 5S the best smartphone on the market. But he said it was a better upgrade for those who have an older iPhone, like the iPhone 4S, not last year’s iPhone 5:

I like it and can recommend it for anyone looking for a premium, advanced smartphone. If you are an iPhone fan with any model older than the iPhone 5, the new 5s will be a big step up. If you own an iPhone 5, there’s less of a case for upgrading, unless you want the fingerprint reader and improved camera. You can get the new OS free of charge.

Anand Lal Shimpi of AnandTech was impressed with the upgrades inside the iPhone 5S: the faster processor, improved camera and the fingerprint sensor for security:

As with all other S-upgrades, the biggest changes to the iPhone 5s are beneath the aluminum and glass exterior. The 5s’ flagship feature? Apple’s new A7 SoC. The A7 is the world’s first 64-bit smartphone SoC, and the first 64-bit mobile SoC shipping in a product (Intel’s Bay Trail is 64-bit but it won’t ship as such, and has yet to ship regardless).

Rich Jaroslovsky of Bloomberg News was jaded. He said that most of the improvements in the iPhone 5S were minor, and that the iPhone 5C was nothing to be excited about:

There’s nothing wrong with either phone. But there’s not much that’s pulse-quickening about them either.

Lauren Goode of AllThingsD said the cheaper iPhone 5C was a solid phone that is better than the older iPhone 5:

While the 5C looks and feels very familiar, it’s still a good phone and an improvement over the 5. But its improvements are evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Alex Kidman of ABC questioned who would buy an iPhone 5C when the iPhone 5S is so much better:

So who’s going to buy it? I’m honestly not sure outside of the heavy fashion crowd who, for one reason or another might just want color and not actual features.

David Pogue of The New York Times said both the iPhone 5S and 5C were great phones. And he said that even though the iPhone 5C is not all that innovative, it will probably still be a big seller:

It’s a terrific phone. The price is right. It will sell like hot cakes; the new iPhones go on sale Friday. But just sheathing last year’s phone in shiny plastic isn’t a stunning advance.