iPhone 5s: The Closest Any Smartphone Comes To Being Perfect [Review]

Display

The iPhone 5s has the same 4-inch Retina display that Apple introduced with the iPhone 5. It’s noticeably better than the old 3.5-inch Retina display in the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4s — you’re in for a real treat if you’re upgrading from one of these devices — and even outperforms some of the higher resolution displays now shipping on the latest Android-powered devices.

iPhone-5s-display

Of course, the number of pixels crammed into a panel isn’t everything, so while the iPhone’s 326 pixels-per-inch may not be quite as sharp as the 441 pixels-per-inch in the Galaxy S4, or the 469 pixels-per-inch in the HTC One, that doesn’t mean the display itself isn’t as good.

The iPhone is “the brightest smartphone” ever tested by the experts at DisplayMate.

According to a recent report from Dr. Raymond Soneira, president of DisplayMate Technologies, the iPhone’s display is “significantly brighter than the Galaxy S4,” and “the brightest smartphone” DisplayMate has tested. It also boasts better color calibration, with the Galaxy S4 slightly over-saturated, and excellent viewing angles.

This means that photos, images, and videos look incredible on the iPhone’s display. In fact, you’ll be pushed to find a display they look better on. The Retina display continues to knock it out of the park in almost every way.

The thing you’ll first notice about the iPhone’s display, however, is how bright colors really pop. It’s particularly evident with iOS 7, which sports a pretty palette everywhere you look. Icons almost give the illusion that they’re sat on top of the display — especially with the new parallax effect on the home screen.

Image courtesy of iFixit.

Image courtesy of iFixit.

This is partly due to the thinness of the iPhone’s display, which is 20% thinner than its predecessor. To achieve this, Apple used in-cell touch technology, which combines the LCD and digitizer — the panel that detects touch input on the display — into one. This is what helps make the iPhone 5s so thin, and gives the illusion that icons and other items are floating above the display.

After using a Galaxy S4 for the past couple of months, I have to admit that the iPhone’s 4-inch display does feel small, and it’s not as enjoyable to use when browsing the web. But it does have its benefits; it’s easy to use with one hand, and its 16:9 aspect ratio is great for movies.

If you’re a long-time iPhone user, the iPhone 5s’s 4-inch display won’t be an issue for you, because you won’t have gotten used to anything bigger. But if you’re coming from a larger device, it’ll take a little time to adjust.

Apple will surely make the iPhone’s display bigger again next year with the iPhone 6 — it will have to if it wants to keep competing with high-end Android-powered smartphones — but in the meantime, the 4-inch Retina display is more than good enough.

Next: Performance

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  • iOS_TV

    I like what Jonathan Ive said, “new is easy, getting it right is difficult”. They certainly got it right with the 5s. It will be interesting to see what Samsung will copy from the 5s. We already know they plan on going 64 bit, they all upgrade the camera, but they will probably keep bumping megapixels. As popular as the gold color is it’s almost a given they will do that.

    It may be easy for Samsung to add a fingerprint scanner, but it will be extremely difficult for them to get it right in the way Apple has with the 5s.

    • Jamell Lewis

      5 months later and you’re right lol. Their copying the fingerprint scanner and the duel flash. Also htc one copying the gold color and duel flash and a service similar to icloud.

  • cflorez6768

    Everything about this article was great. I have an Iphone 5S myself in black ( couldn’t get gold )… In my opinion there’s something wrong about that photo though… who the hell uses the BBM app??? so ridiculous. I wouldn’t insult my 5S installing that crap.. even if I was going to delete it a moment after. I wouldn’t even dare….

  • NHTeaParties

    This is the worst move and worst product of anything Apple has ever tried. Many unhappy people are defecting to Android because they may as well now that Apple acts and looks like a cheap PC. Sayonara Apple, I just sold $500K worth of your stock… as it is going to plunge as people defect from your defective unusable product that is so hard on the eyes. UGLY!!!!!

  • Bulldogger123

    This is the worst move and worst product of anything Apple has ever tried. Many unhappy people are defecting to Android because they may as well now that Apple acts and looks like a cheap PC. Sayonara Apple, I just sold $500K worth of your stock… as it is going to plunge as people defect from your defective unusable product that is so hard on the eyes. UGLY!!!!!

    You just proved why most people think Tea Party Members are idiots!

  • iSteve

    As Steve said ” I skate where the puck is going to be and not where it has been”… This sums up what Apple has achieved with the 5S. ==> Forward thinkig..

  • trudderham

    Really nice review, great to see some real-life photos of the space grey color. Anyway this is a great place to start if anyone’s looking for iOS 7 tuition: http://iosguides.net/ios-7/

  • Andrew John
    This is the worst move and worst product of anything Apple has ever tried. Many unhappy people are defecting to Android because they may as well now that Apple acts and looks like a cheap PC. Sayonara Apple, I just sold $500K worth of your stock… as it is going to plunge as people defect from your defective unusable product that is so hard on the eyes. UGLY!!!!!

    You just proved why most people think Tea Party Members are idiots!

    I think he just proved why most people think fandroid trolls are idiots!

  • rmbourbon

    Like you I have been using android for about 6 months with the Xperia Z. A very nice phone but android is buggy, laggy and annoying at times and I have been waiting for an excuse to get back to iOS and this phone has convinced me. I ordered one on the weekend and i have a grin from ear to ear. I am no fanboy given that i have tried android, windows 8 phone, Blackberry in the past and iOS but i think iOS still has the best OS and with iOS7 and the 5S I am really very excited. Now all Apple has to do jus make a 4.7″ phone and that will be the cherry on the cake.

  • Paul Burt

    You and everyone else are delusional if you think Apple is going to increase the display size again. Keep dreaming.

  • Bulldogger123
    This is the worst move and worst product of anything Apple has ever tried. Many unhappy people are defecting to Android because they may as well now that Apple acts and looks like a cheap PC. Sayonara Apple, I just sold $500K worth of your stock… as it is going to plunge as people defect from your defective unusable product that is so hard on the eyes. UGLY!!!!!

    You just proved why most people think Tea Party Members are idiots!

    I think he just proved why most people think fandroid trolls are idiots!

    You must be a Tea Party idiot.

  • MrsCleaver

    Good review, Killian. However I find your oft-used phrase “cream your jeans”, offensive and sophomoric. As I’ve posted before, I think using such language here is in poor taste.

    But thanks for a fairly in-depth view of the new iPhone.

  • MrsCleaver

    I misquoted your writing. The phrase was “cream their pants.”

    It’s fffensive either way, but I wanted to be accurate.

  • dcj001

    As Steve said ” I skate where the puck is going to be and not where it has been”… This sums up what Apple has achieved with the 5S. ==> Forward thinkig..

    Actually, Wayne (Gretzky) said it before Steve did.

  • dcj001

    You and everyone else are delusional if you think Apple is going to increase the display size again. Keep dreaming.

    It will happen one year from now with the iPhone 6.

  • Adrayven
    You and everyone else are delusional if you think Apple is going to increase the display size again. Keep dreaming.

    It will happen one year from now with the iPhone 6.

    Agreed. Fairly obvious the next step is to offer a ‘c’ class iPhone, then a ‘pro’ class iphone with 4″ and 5″ sizes.. I susect we’ll see 2 sizes like we see with their Pro laptops, which have 13″ and 15″. I think we’ll see a 4″ stay around and a 4.5-5″ phone added to the high end category and the iPhone C will say as the colorful option for mainstream users.

    I don’t think they will go over 5″ though.. under that probably. They’ve a space issue because of the large round fingerprint button to deal with.

  • DJBabyBuster

    As with all the incremental s updates, I’ll wait for a proper new phone with the 6.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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