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It’s iPhone launch season again, and this time it comes with a twist: Unlike previous years, tech blogs have not one but two new iPhones to review: the ultra-high-end iPhone 5s, and the colorful mass-market iPhone 5c.
So what do our venerable phone critics think of Apple’s latest and perhaps greatest devices? Overall, pretty good things.
Gadget sage Walt Mossberg, for example, argues that the iPhone 5s is the best device on the market, though he maintains that there’s less of a case for upgrading if you already own the iPhone 5.
After a week of testing the iPhone 5s, 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.
Anandtech’s Anand Lal Shimpi was pretty fond of the iPhone 5s’s fingerprint scanner, which he expects to be everywhere before long — even outside iOS. TouchID, it seems, is no gimmick.
Apple’s Touch ID was the biggest surprise for me. I found it very well executed and a nice part of the overall experience. When between the 5s and the 5/5c, I immediately miss Touch ID. Apple is still a bit too conservative with where it allows Touch ID instead of a passcode, but even just as a way to unlock the device and avoid typing in my iCloud password when downloading apps it’s a real improvement.
David Pouge of The New York Times agrees:
The best part is that it actually works — every single time, in my tests. It’s nothing like the balky, infuriating fingerprint-reader efforts of earlier cellphones. It’s genuinely awesome; the haters can go jump off a pier
Myriam Joire of Endgadget says that while its easy to dismiss the iPhone 5c as a needless upgrade, the phone is more significant than it seems.
With the 5c, Apple achieves an unprecedented level of synergy between hardware and software. Like many of the company’s other products, you have to experience the 5c in person to truly appreciate it.
One bad thing about these new iPhones? Their screens are still a bit small, as multiple reviewers point out. Here’s Scott Stein of CNET:
A larger screen would have really helped this year: not because the competition has it, but because Apple’s newest features and apps would put it to good use. I found editing and appreciating the improved photos and video recording, and even playing games, to be challenging; the better that graphics and camera quality get, the more you need a larger screen to appreciate them.
Oh, and in case you’re not sure which of the two iPhones is the one for you, AllThingsD’s Lauren Goode sums it up well:
The iPhone 5c, positioned as one of two new iPhones in Apple’s product line, probably won’t satisfy tech-savvy consumers who need the latest and greatest hardware. Those people will probably turn their eyes toward the iPhone 5s, which has a powerful 64-bit processor and new fingerprint-recognition technology that lets you unlock the phone with a tap of your finger.