iPhone 5S, first launched in 2013, was Apple's first phone with the Touch ID fingerprint home button and a 64-bit processor, and the last new iOS phone to feature a smaller 4-inch screen, at least until the iPhone SE came out in 2016.
Today's 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus are meant for people with larger hands and bigger wallets. Thankfully, you can still find the iPhone 5S in some stores at a discount. Let's see if it's still relevant.
When it was first unveiled, the iPhone 5S looked a lot like the iPhone 5, even though it went much further under the hood. We'd been there before with the iPhone 'S' conundrum: a new phone comes along, taking the shell of the previous model, adds some new bits and pieces, and then claims to be an entirely new phone – and we've just seen it again with the iPhone 6S and even the iPhone 7.
Which it was, of course. But also wasn't. Well, mostly was. It's the kind of move that only Apple can pull off with any kind of conviction: the notion that it can take the same chassis, have a little tinker, throw in a new CPU, slightly better battery and camera, and call it an all-conquering device.
The jump from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 5S was nowhere near as significant as the leap to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – Apple's handsets changed notably inside and out at that point, and their release should give you serious pause if you're looking at buying an iPhone 5S right now.
The 5S was an expensive smartphone, even on monthly plans, although thankfully the price has fallen considerably as the handset has gotten older.
You can find it pre-owned for as little as $250 in the US (about £200, AU$330) at SIM-free prices. That beats the last official list price from Apple that had it at£379 (US$450, AU$749) for 16GB, and £419 (US$499, AU$829) for 64GB.
If you want a larger capacity iPhone, you'll want to either look for second hand models of the iPhone 5S, or make the leap to the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7, the latter going all the way up to 256GB if you're willing to spend a lot of money.
For its time though, the 5S was a big jump forward, and it's still in credit now: whether it's the Touch ID home button (which is excellent, more on that later), the jump in CPU power over its predecessor, the fact the camera was, once again, improved, or the new iOS 10 software it's now running, the iPhone 5S saw Apple attempting to bring as much as it could to the party without having to redesign the whole concept all over again.
There are many that think releasing the same design twice is cheeky, and there are others who realise that sometimes there's no need for change. It's easy to fall into the former camp, and while Apple will happily point out it's not forcing anyone to buy its phones, it's acutely aware the competition is now scarily strong and it needed to bring its best to stay relevant.
The iPhone 5S represented the pinnacle of that particular iPhone design for Apple, before it went thinner and more rounded with the iPhone 6; it was certainly very difficult to tell the 5S apart from its predecessor, the iPhone 5.
Perhaps that's less of an issue now that the iPhone is becoming something of a commodity, a device that is so oft-used by the middle-aged generation that it no longer carries the lustre that the exclusivity of the earlier models emanated.
That's not necessarily a bad thing either; just because it's not an 'exclusive' design that doesn't make the iPhone 5S any less premium. The danger is that it's starting to look a bit old-fashioned up against the handsets from 2014 and 2015.
That said, it's still a stunning phone to hold in the hand, coming with the all-aluminium-and-glass chassis. There's no doubt Apple had a look at the way the iPhone 5 range (well, black and white) chipped so badly around the edges.
But that same issue was apparent already in my iPhone sample within a week, so it looks like you're going to quickly need to stuff your new iPhone 5S in a case the second you release it from its box, lest you leave it in a pocket or bag with change and keys and it comes out looking like it's gone a few rounds with a randy cheese grater.
The new colours, introduced with the 5S, which include champagne and space grey are a little odd, but at least promise to show up the scuffs a little less prominently.
The way the iPhone 5S feels in the hand is something impressive though, coming with the low, low weight of 112g and dimensions of 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm.
It's still got that almost too-light feeling, that the premium metal finish is somehow diminished through the lack of heft, but it's a long way from feeling cheap.
Compared to something like the Galaxy S5 or LG G3, the iPhone 5S is miles ahead when it comes to design, although less so than the HTC One M9 or One Mini 2 which have repeated the aluminium-clad trick.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge demonstrate that Samsung has got its design mojo back, and both handsets give the iPhone 5S a run for its money in the looks department.
It's got a slightly sharper edge than other models on the market, which can make it a little uncomfortable when being pressed to the ear. But I'm not going to quibble too much there lest it makes me seem a little wimpy.
There were only a couple of real design differences compared to the iPhone 5, and one of them really is minuscule: the camera module is flanked by a dual-LED flash, which I'll talk more about later (it's a really rather nifty piece of technology, trust me).
The other was a lot more substantial and impressive: the home button got a redesign which has been carried over to the newer handsets of today.
Yes, it doesn't sound like much, but consider how iconic the Apple home button has been over the past half-decade, and you'll see why I'm holding the change in such high esteem. The visual effect is impressive, taking the square off the button and putting a fancy silver ring around the key.
The effect isn't only aesthetic either, as this area serves as the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, now well established in Apple's iPhone range. It's good to know that even on this older handset you've got the benefits that Touch ID brings.
Having bought two separate biometric security firms, Apple was likely to do something like this, but the implementation and visual effect is really something that Apple does well, and has done so here too.
Beyond that, the iPhone 5S is identical to the 5, even down to the rattle in the power button. We're still a little confused as to why a device with such a high build quality has a slightly loose part with it, but shake the iPhone 5S gently and you'll feel the key moving around.
It's not a big deal, but every so often you'll note the motion, and it does detract somewhat.
Thankfully the rest of the phone is built impeccably. The round volume keys are easy to hit. the switch to enable volume on or off has the same sturdy feel that I've come to enjoy, and the headphone port is still welded to the bottom of the phone.
The Lightning connection port is here as well, along with the stereo speakers on the bottom of the phone. I wish these were placed somewhere else, as when cupping the phone in landscape mode it's far too easy to cover these with palms or digits, and there's not really any way to shift around them.
You can always use headphones, but that kind of negates the point of the speakers for gaming completely.
The right hand side hasn't been left completely alone on the 5S, with Apple choosing this surface as the location for the SIM card tray – the iPhone 5S was one of the first handsets to rock the tiny nanoSIM technology.
The iPhone 5 and 5S design was such a hit that you can still get a bunch of cases for the phone, including a variety of styles and shapes direct from the Apple Store on the web.
But beyond that I'm still impressed with the design of the iPhone 5S. It's hard not to be, as if there's one thing that Apple gets totally right it's the way it assembles its devices.
The metal and glass combination does feel a little fragile, and I'd recommend a case (perhaps a third-party option) to protect the aluminium, but the design is something that at least helps mitigate the higher price.
Of course, good as the design is, it's now up against the iPhone 6S / iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus / iPhone 6 Plus: sleeker, thinner, and rocking much larger screens. Whether or not these changes are for the better is up to you – you might be really attached to a phone screen that you can get your thumb comfortably across.
The iPhone 5S uses the same Retina display as found in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C: a four-inch screen with a resolution of 1136 x 640, making it still-sharp at 326ppi.
It's difficult to recommend the display compared to the rest of the smartphone world, as there are definitely better screens out there. The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, not to mention the even newer iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, offer higher resolutions, and larger displays, and the Plus models boast a higher ppi. Whether this is enough for you with the competition being so far ahead is something I'll leave you to work out.
The four-inch size of the screen is good enough though, as while I might be a fan of the larger screen for movies and internet browsing on the Samsung Galaxy S6 or HTC One M9, the iPhone 5S is a good phone for people that hate the idea of being forced to live with a bigger screen they don't want.
It's not perfect though, as despite what Apple would have you believe, the screen is just a tad too large to operate easily with one hand.
With a small amount of shifting you can get the thumb all the way across, but given you have to jiggle the phone in the palm a little bit to do so, it kind of feels redundant.
In terms of the clarity of the iPhone 5S' display, I'd say it's excellent in terms of colour reproduction and general effect, but there are better displays to choose from - the Sony Xperia Z5 is worth looking at, for example.
The sharpness is great, the colour reproduction still industry leading, but the brightness can be a little erratic for some low-contrast movies and isn't big enough for speedy typing. HD movies still look acceptable on the device, but I've seen a much more jaw-dropping effect on rival devices, such as the LG G3 and its successor, the LG G4.
I like that Apple is leading the charge to stop screen sizes going too far in the wrong direction, but there could be something more that's done here.
Even a display with a thinner bezel would have impressed (although scaling apps might have been a problem, with is something Apple is so proud of) but I still think in the face of fierce Android opposition the iPhone 5S display could be better.
One big change on the iPhone 5S was the fact it arrived with iOS 7. This was clearly the flagship device for the new operating system, and it showed off the UI redesign superbly.
Now we're all the way up to iOS 9 and beyond, bringing a few new refinements and extra features, without really altering the aesthetic established by the iOS 7 overhaul.
Right now, the latest iPhone 5S software rests at iOS 9.2.1, with the recent addition of new emojis. The Health app is now here, and the HealthKit framework, offering the chance to track your fitness and health (and even your caffeine intake) as well as connect to more devices within the home.
It also finally opens up things like the keyboard, which means you're able to customise your phone in ways you couldn't before.
Unfortunately Apple Pay, a new way of paying for goods and services in store and online, is not going to work on the iPhone 5S because it lacks NFC, but pair with a new Apple Watch and you're laughing all the way to the bank (until you see your balance anyway).
The colours on offer are fun, fresh and most importantly distinctive, giving a real unique feel to iOS 7, iOS 8 and iOS 9 that other platforms might not have. Photos, Safari and Music have all changed a great deal in the last couple of years, as well as a host of other apps too, and while some have labelled them 'childish', they're clearly indicative of the new style Apple is looking to create.
What I do find frustrating in iOS is the dependence it has on the Settings menu, with various app controls all housed here instead of within the apps themselves.
It's annoying if you're in the Facebook app for example and want to adjust the notification settings. You have to exit the app and navigate to the setting menu instead.
Look beyond the UI though and you'll see that the iPhone 5S is much easier to use than the phones that came before it, which is impressive for a phone that was already market-leading in its simplicity. The software is almost identical to that running on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Dragging upwards from pretty much anywhere on the phone will open the Control Center, giving access to the music player, brightness, quick apps such as a timer, torch and calculator, as well as allowing you to switch on and off elements like the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Yes, it's a notion that's been part of Android for a number of years, but it's been done in a way that feels a lot more solid and intuitive, never changing with notifications so you can easily trust that when you need a torch you can get to it easily.
That said, the torch was an odd area of the Control Center. Whenever lifting up the tab to access said function, you'd always need to wait a second or two before being able to hit any of the quick app icons. It's not a huge problem, but one that quickly got tiring. It's like the whole drawer needs a second to boot up.
I also found an odd glitch here too: the music controls don't work over Bluetooth headphones, nor on the lock screen. This was fixed with a reboot, and hasn't happened for a while, but it didn't give me massive confidence in the device.
There's also the recently added notification area, accessed by dragging downwards. Thankfully unlike the Control Center, this can be customised: you don't need to have to look at stocks or your upcoming meetings or lack of social engagements if you don't want to, but there's always information on the weather there, which is nice when you realise you'll need a coat.
This is also the place where you'll get any missed notifications, be it a call, message or that jacket on eBay you were looking to buy when someone's outbid you on it.
It was a bit of a wasteland, but Apple has changed that with the iOS 8 and iOS 9 updates, adding more intuitive interactions, and live widgets that update with key information – plus the ability to directly reply to messages there too.
Both of these areas are nicely designed too, with translucency that allows you to see very vaguely through to the rest of the phone. This gives the whole handset an air of completeness. It feels like a phone that's able to connect within itself and not fall apart when a new app rolls into town.
Since iOS 7.1 the phone and messaging buttons have been toned down in colour somewhat, meaning less neon green and a more pleasing look to the eye, and the multitasking in the latest version of the software works much better than it used to.
The double-tap action now sees the screen you're viewing shown in a deck of cards – cards showing all the other apps running in the background. You can quickly swipe between them to find the one you're after, or swipe up to close an app.
The iOS 8 and iOS 9 releases we've seen since the iPhone 5S first appeared have only added to the quality of the phone (and blurred the distinction between iOS and Android even more).
Maps, Notes and Photos have received significant upgrades as Apple looks to keep pace with Google, although it feels like some other native apps, such as Mail, are being neglected.
The Low Power Mode introduced with iOS 9 should give you a few extra minutes of battery power when it's at a low level, and Siri and Spotlight have been upgraded too, so you get smarter assistance and results for your searches based on previous behaviour.
Apple's personal assistant is now proactive, being able to make suggestions of its own, such as appointments you might want to add to your calendar.
Not forgetting the brand new News app introduced with iOS 9, Apple's attempt to get publishers on its own platform rather than the wilds of the web.
There are signs that Apple is opening up iOS, with extensions now available for Photos and Safari, and those third-party keyboards we mentioned earlier; but it feels like the OS is due another major overhaul, which we'll perhaps see this year.
We're all the way up to iOS 9 now, or more specifically iOS 9.2.1. The highlights include improvements to Apple Maps, which now has public transport information in certain locations, plus an overhaul to Siri's functionality.
Apple's personal assistant is now proactive, being able to make suggestions of its own, such as appointments you might want to add to your calendar.
There's also a new News app, which works a bit like Flipboard, giving you a personalised feed of sources and stories you might be interested in. Plus iOS 9 improves the efficiency of devices and tweaks the keyboard to, among other things, make it easier to tell whether caps lock is on or not.
Now we're getting onto something that's really rather special: the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5S. You'll find it on the new iPad Air 2, and obviously the most recent iPhones, and it gives them a whole new level of functionality – it's much harder to enter a passcode on two-handed devices.
Touch ID is a system that came as something of a surprise with the iPhone 5S, as when the device launched in September 2013, fingerprint scanning was relatively written off as being something that was just too cumbersome to implement.
Just look back at the Motorola Atrix with its back-mounted sensor… that didn't work at all.
Well, that's not true with the Touch ID sensor on iPhone. It's phenomenal in the way it works, making it possible to have a phone that is as secure as having a passcode, but without the irritation of having to enter it a million times a day.
Press the home button and let your finger rest there, and the phone just opens itself up. It's hard to explain just how cool the motion feels.
Yes, it's not 'properly' secure – there's still a passcode right there for those that don't want to use the fingerprint scanner, and if someone reads that over your shoulder they'll still be able to steal your phone and get in.
This should explain the insanity that some are peddling, such as how robbers will be cutting off fingers or forcing users to unlock the phone. Firstly, the sensor is capacitive and therefore needs an actual, alive, finger to use it.
Secondly: this isn't a way of securing national secrets. If someone is that desperate to get into your phone, there are myriad ways. But if you want to avoid pecking out a passcode time and time again, this is a brilliant method of doing it.
Moreover, you can use Touch ID to replace your iTunes password. This is an excellent way of not having to pop in your special word over and over again when you're buying items or downloading certain apps. It might only save a few seconds, but more importantly than that, it's just so goshdarn cool that I can't help but love to do it.
And on the point of security, Apple may have pushed that element further than it needed to – but that should give consumers decent peace of mind.
The Touch ID sensor communicates directly with the stored fingerprint on the A7 chip, and not even the rest of the phone can see it.
This means your fingerprint won't get backed up to iCloud and accidentally shared with the world. But you won't be able to use different digits to open other apps, which would have been awesome from the lock screen.
Imagine being able to press a single digit to the phone to unlock it… okay, that's here now. But then press a different finger and open the music player, and a third will take you straight to your Pocket reader.
It would be an amazing way to do things and show that the iPhone is more built around the user – however, I suspect that Apple is erring on the side of security here, and that's not a bad thing at all.
The system was opened up to third-party developers with iOS 8, so every app can take advantage of the Touch ID functionality – Dropbox is one that's done so.
In terms of setting up your finger recognition, there's nothing to it: press your digit up and down on the sensor and the phone will buzz every time it learns your fingerprint. And not only that, but you're then asked to show the edges of your finger to get a larger image of the print, giving more accuracy.
I never really found a problem with the accuracy of the iPhone 5S' Touch ID sensor, but it appears that some people did. Apple reckons it's managed to improve that somewhat with successive iOS releases, meaning it won't 'forget' your fingerprint as easily as before.
In practice you can turn your finger or thumb any way you like on the button and it will still register just the same – there are some mis-scans, but on the whole it's really rather excellent and accurate. It's not 100% accurate all the time, which can grate.
But compare it to the same trick Samsung has tried to employ on its Galaxy phones, which need a swipe, and you'll see how hard it is to implement a system that's even this good – plus the iPhone 6/6S and 6 Plus/6S Plus upgrades feel even more accurate, and come with Apple Pay to boot.
Apple imbued the iPhone 5S with not one, but two, chips that it thinks made the 5S one of the powerful phones on the market in 2013. A lot has changed since its launch, and there's now a raft of newer handsets packing in more power – but the 5S is no slouch.
It's almost insane to think of the power running under the hood here, and there's no doubt that it gave things a real performance boost over the iPhone 5 – that said, it's not realised the potential of that chip in the way other phone manufacturers have, although it's still impressive when it comes to graphics reproduction and similar tasks.
The A7 chip from Apple inside the iPhone 5S is worth noting: not only did it bring a huge boost in power, it offered 64-bit computing inside an iPhone for the first time too.
To most people in 2013 that label meant nothing more than suggesting their phone was as powerful as a Nintendo 64 – in reality, it was a pretty important move for the company.
Simply put, a 64-bit chip allows for more powerful processing and a greater amount of power to be plugged through the phone for most tasks. It can also work with a greater amount of RAM.
It didn't really mean much to the consumer when the iPhone 5S launched, but 64-bit is the industry standard now. There are some noticeable elements that take advantage, with the camera being much faster and able to handle so much more smoothly. And I'm willing to bet the Touch ID sensor is going to need a hefty whack of power to enable such tight security on the phone.
Thanks to that future-proofing 64-bit technology, you can pick up an iPhone 5S safe in the knowledge that all the latest apps and games are still going to work with it… and the iPhone was already a slick and fast beast before the processor upgrade.
It was partly a marketing exercise, and partly Apple future-proofing itself, enabling its phones to add in new layers of security and providing developers with the tools to make even better apps. That future-proofing means the iPhone 5S is still a decent-value proposition in 2016.
There's another cheeky little chip under the hood that sits alongside the A7 main unit: the M7 chip, which is there to make the iPhone 5S a rival to trackers from the likes of Jawbone and Fitbit.
It enables the main CPU to snooze while it tracks the motion of the phone, through the accelerometer, gyrometer and compass.
This means that it will know when you're jogging or when you're in the car, and can take that information and store it without needing to drain the battery by having the main CPU chugging away.
It can even retrofit the data to apps that you download at a later date, meaning any M7-enabled app that uses the new CoreMotion API will be able to give you information on recent training.
It will also seamlessly slip from walking to driving navigation on Apple Maps, which is a nifty extra, taking another hassle out of life, and especially useful for keeping drivers safe behind the wheel.
We're seeing the benefit of what's on offer with the M7 chip now that Apple has released the Health app. It's a comprehensive record of your activity and a place to store important health data, and it ties in with all the top fitness apps and wearables.
As with the Health app, other apps are able to plug into the M7 chip just as easily as the M8 and M9 upgrades in the newest iPhones.
This is where iPhones are expected to shine, and the iPhone 5S really rather does, even two-and-a-bit years down the line. Apple decided to push harder with the camera sensor in this handset, trying to create something squarely between the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 – two of its main competitors in 2013 – and beat both.
It mostly pulled it off too, although the other two flagships of that year were also really decent snappers, and in many ways were also class-leading – for instance, there's no background de-focus here with the iPhone 5S.
Let's dial it back a little and explain: Samsung is all about staying true to the 'megapixel wars' and wants to cram as many as it can in there, which is why it has such a complex sensor. It can't function as well in low light, but get the shot composition right and you're going to get some really nice snaps.
The approach HTC took with the One M8 was almost the opposite: it enabled you to get some really great low light shots thanks to the improved Ultrapixel camera. It only sports a 4MP sensor, but with much larger pixels which let in more light.
This means better night time performance and a faster shutter, and with this camera you get a wider gamut of shots to take away with you, although you probably won't want to blow them up for the wall. (HTC has since rejoined the megapixel wars with the HTC One M9.)
The iPhone 5S, as I said, falls in between these camps, coming with an 8MP sensor and pixels 75% the size of the HTC One M8's offering. The result is a strong blend between sharpness and low light ability, where the iPhone straddles the categories without being market leading in either back when it first appeared.
That said, the updated camera interface, combined with the A7's ability to easily combine three snaps to make the best picture it can, mean this is a truly awesome camera phone.
The UI of recent updates enables you to simply slide between modes, be it panorama, a new 'square' mode for social networks, the standard photo, video at 1080p or the all new Slow-mo mode, which can capture 120 frames per second at 720p resolution and gives you the option to choose when the slow down and speed up happens.
There's also a new timelapse mode now, which lets you use the iPhone 5S to capture videos over a very long period of time. A timer and exposure control have also been added to the Camera app since the handset first went on sale.
The CPU is at its best here, with the shutter speed really great, the burst mode working well (simply activated by pressing the shutter button for any length of time) and giving seemingly unlimited shots. The iPhone can also intelligently work out the best shot and the suggestions usually get it pretty bang on, where other handsets with the same functionality can't every time.
Apple was pretty late to the burst mode game, but it's implemented it in a way that really works rather well. At least the ability to lock focus is on board, as well as locking exposure - these are closer to pro-photographer moves, and allow for some interesting shot composition.
The UI is a something of a bugbear though, despite looking so flashy. The options to enable HDR mode, turn the flash on and off or change to the front facing camera don't always want to come on when you tap, which makes it hard to use the camera when you're trying to take an arty shot in lower light that doesn't need the flash.
Auto HDR mode, ushered in with iOS 7.1, is another cool feature. This will fire up automatically when light levels are going a bit all over the place and will give you a much richer (if slower to snap) picture without you needing to mess about with the settings.
Clever work from Apple – it's up there with the real-time HDR introduced with the Samsung Galaxy S5.
This leads me nicely onto the other big change over the iPhone 5, with the flash getting something of an update thanks to an increase to dual LED. This is nothing new in smartphones, but Apple's been smart here as well, thanks to bringing a white and amber option into play.
What this allows the iPhone 5S to do is analyse the scene with a primary flash and then mix the amber and white colours together to reproduce colours more accurately and stop everything looking so washed out.
It's actually a more impressive feature than I thought it might be when it comes to colour rendition, but I can't say it made me want to use the flash any more than normal. As per usual, it got turned off pretty soon and didn't come back on again, which is partly due to the impressive low light performance.
To summarise: the iPhone 5S camera beats its predecessors by some distance, thanks to its simplicity of use and the great modes on offer (there's even an area that allows you to choose a filter before you start snapping, with real time previews so you can check each one out.)
That's actually something that I found a little odd: when you pull a filtered photo from your iPhone 5S onto your computer, the filter has been removed. However, share it through Airdrop or in the Mail app and it will display with Chrome or Mono or whatever filter you went for.
However, that's a terribly minor niggle compared to the hugely impressive camera, which I urge you to try with a little more depth should you get the chance. I would like to see Apple enable 16:9 photos at some point soon, as the UI doesn't lend itself to the 4:3 options that come out.
I understand Apple is trying to stay close to more professional photography, but most phones make full use of the screen, and it would be great if Apple followed suit.
And what of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus cameras? Is the extra expense justified in the extra photo quality? Well, the 2014 phones feature some subtle upgrades that leave your pictures looking better than ever, while the 2015 pair ups the number of megapixels.
The iPhone 5S can still hold its own in the photography department, but real enthusiasts should consider one of the latest models; particularly the two Plus models, which offer optical stabilisation.
Video on the iPhone 5S isn't anything overly special, beyond offering decent footage without having to try very hard. As for stills shooting there's no optical image stabilisation on board, which means that anything that comes with a shaky hand will have the same judder in the footage.
This is especially apparent when zooming in on the footage when you're filming, which can now be done at the same time.
However, the general clarity and smoothness of the video is impressive and will help you capture the precious moments in high clarity. The only other real option is to turn the LED light on to get some real illumination, but be warned: it's bright.
Another trick enabled by the A7 chip, slow motion has been added to the iPhone 5S. It enables 120fps capture at 720p resolution, but more importantly you can choose when in the footage to speed up and slow down the action, so if you've got a squirrel falling from the tree you can make it so that only the really hilarious bit is at the slower speed.
It's a really neat system for editing your footage, with little tabs to trim the movie to get rid of any waiting around at the start or the end. The slo-mo capabilities have been upped to 240 frames per second at higher resolutions in the later models.
While the effect is cool, it's not something I'm particularly bothered about in terms of a killer feature on a smartphone. The results are fun and pleasing, but they don't really make me want to pull out Slo-Mo mode all the time.
On top of that it's very hard to share the slow motion video, as you can't just pull it off the phone, with the resulting .MOV file jumping and skipping somewhat when viewed back on a PC.
So while I like the idea, Slo-Mo left me feeling rather cold.
Originally, upon opening the iPhone 5S Photos app, you were taken through a few options. You could view your album, your Photostream through iCloud or the myriad videos you'd nabbed during your time with the device.
Once into your camera roll, you could organise by moments in time, location or just general collections, with only a couple of taps being needed to make it easier to share the content with a social network.
After a few complaints, Apple included an option to switch back to the traditional Camera Roll view in the iOS 8.1 update, and with iOS 9 the brand new iCloud Photo Library service is available, designed to make automatic online backups more straightforward.
From the Photos app you can as create a shared photostream for the family to enjoy, or open Apple maps to see properly where the photos were taken. And if you want to zoom out a bit then all you need to do is tap the top left-hand icon, taking you from 'Collections' to 'Years' which means that if you've got millions of snaps then you can see them grouped properly together.
If you're not happy with the photos you have you can always tap the 'edit' button when viewing a particular picture to take you into an editor.
From there you have various options including crop, rotate, red-eye removal, eight filters and auto-enhance. The iOS 8 and 9 updates have beefed up the editing capabilities, and the app now supports third-party extensions as well.
As a result you can now fully tweak light and colour settings, digging into exposure, brightness, contrast, and a lot more.
With the most recent Photos update it feels like Apple is finally getting its act together in terms of images, although there's still a lot of work that could be done – it's neither as accessible nor as straightforward as Google Photos, for example.
If you're interested in sharing these photos with others, the Airdrop is your friend here. Apple's proprietary connection is one that's pretty darn good and beats the pants of the likes of S Beam on a Galaxy phone or the general need to pull one's hair out when setting up Wi-Fi Direct.
In this option you simply tap the photo you want to share, make sure the person you're looking to share it with has a compatible Apple device (and is visible) then tap on the icon of the person that comes up at the bottom in the Control Centre – this works really well and the photo sharing times are very impressive indeed, using Apple's implementation of the Wi-Fi ad-hoc technology.
It's startling how fast photos beam across, and it's more simple than competitor methods, providing you've made yourself available or accepted other users.
It pretty much removes the need for Bluetooth, at least as far as file sharing between iOS devices is concerned.
The iPhone range, now including the iPhone 5S as the smallest and cheapest of the line-up, is born from strong media foundations, and thus can deliver in pretty much every department, from music to movies to imaging.
With the backing of the iTunes store the iPhone 5S puts millions of songs and thousands of films and TV shows at your fingertips, available for purchase and download.
The heritage goes further than that of course, with excellent sound reproduction on offer and an improved interface making all manner of music and video a really great experience.
With its heritage in the iPod sector the iPhone has top-notch audio capabilities, with a fully functional music player and great sound quality enabling it to mix with the big boys in the mobile world.
Apple doesn't make as much of a fuss about audio as the likes of LG and HTC, but the iPhone 5S delivers simple and clear sound (as long as you upgrade the bundled earbuds and go for something half decent instead).
Apple's bundled buds aren't bad, but they still leak sound compared to some decent over the ear cans or the plethora of in-ear and noise-reducing buds on the market.
Back to the handset: you'll want to head over to the music player to get started. Here you can viewi all the songs saved on the 5S, as well as any you may have hanging around in iCloud, with a choice of sorting them by artist, song title or album.
As this is an Apple device album art is thrust into the mix, adding a bit of colour to the otherwise optician-white interface.
Tap a song to play and you'll be transported to the Now Playing screen which itself is pretty self explanatory. There you have normal play/pause, skip and scrub controls, with repeat and shuffle options below them.
If you tap on where the song details are on the now playing screen they will disappear to reveal a five star rating system, so you can let the iPhone 5S know which songs you favour. Tap again and the song details will return.
There's a button in the lower right corner below the album art which will bring up all the tracks on the album you're currently playing.
Of course you can now sign up for Apple Music as well, giving you access to millions of streaming tracks on demand. Apple's attempt to meld this with the traditional Music app hasn't been an unqualified success, and there are still various bugs that need ironing out.
Videos are, unsurprisingly, handled in the Video app, where you'll be able to view all your movies, TV shows and music videos you have stored on the iPhone 5S as well as iCloud.
If you're connected to Wi-Fi or trust your mobile signal not to cut out you can stream any iCloud content directly to the iPhone 5S, but if you're going on a plan or don't have a network connection you can always download the media to the handset to ensure fluid playback.
With the iPhone 5, Apple stretched the screen to provide a 16:9 aspect ratio and that 4-inch display is also present on the iPhone 5S making the video player a more pleasant experience.
I've already mentioned that the new iPhone's screen isn't HD at 1136 x 640 and held up next to video playback on any of the current crop of high-end Android phones (or the QHD display on the likes of the LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6) you can see the disparity.
Some will argue that the 326ppi pixel density means the human eye won't really be able to discern the difference, but the fact is that on comparison there is a noticeable difference.
Watch video on the iPhone 5S in isolation however and you're unlikely to have any real complaints with a bright screen and smooth playback – you might find yourself wishing for a bigger screen though, which the newer iPhones can now offer.
The iPhone 5S supports MP4 video files, and that's pretty much it. There are workarounds with third party video players available in the App Store which support different formats, but loading those videos onto the phone isn't overly straightforward so I'd recommend sticking with Apple's rules this time.
It's a shame these restrictions are in place, as many phone these days support a wide range of video formats and Apple's limiting approach may well put off some prospective punters – although iTunes is rather adept at conversion if you're that bothered.
Video player controls are very simple. You get play/pause, skip, scrub (at varying speeds depending on how far you drag your finger up and down the screen) and volume, and that's it.
If your video supports subtitles then an icon will appear in the bottom right of the video player where you can select your language and toggle them on and off.
I found the iPhone 5S was averagely comfortable to hold for extended periods of time, with the thin frame and sharper edges not making it conducive to lengthy watching, although if you invest in the leather case you'll be able to prop it up against a mug or seat back without it sliding all over the place.
One issue I had was with the placement of the headphones port which is right on one side of the handset, meaning the rigid plastic connector sticking out of the bottom of the phone does get in the way of your hands somewhat.
I should also mention that when it comes to video it still absolutely pays to have an iDevice, as things like BBC iPlayer, 4OD and Sky Go all have downloads available on the iPhone 5S. I'm aware this happens on Android phones too these days, but it always feels like an afterthought compared to being iOS-first for most video brands.
While the iPhone 5 brought with it an improvement in battery life for the iPhone range, there was still room for more, and to an extent the iPhone 5S delivered.
When we first reviewed the phone the main improvement was the fact that leaving the iPhone 5S on standby, perhaps overnight, sees very little drain on the battery. One night I noticed around 15% drop, but after that it was merely 4-5% on average which I can put down to iOS 7 keeping its apps in order a little better. On iOS 8.1 the battery dropped around 7% overnight, and iOS 9 scores about the same based on the most recent tests run on the handset.
So that's a big problem of the iPhone battery sort of solved: if it's in your pocket, it won't inexplicably run out of juice.
However, there's still a rather large issue I need to address with the battery, and that's the problem of actually using the phone. I test a large number of devices here at techradar, and in the more intensive tests it's always interesting to see which phone fares better.
A little photography, web browsing, video watching and flicking through apps not only warmed up the 5S quite considerably but also saw a rather rapid drain in the battery. For instance: streaming BBC iPlayer on the train home for half an hour saw a 20% drop in the battery life.
I can't see how the claims of eight hours' browsing on 3G holds any water, as that was one area that really hurt the battery and caused the phone to heat up. Talking also drained the power pack, and Apple originally quoted up to 10 hours on 3G back in 2013. Again, I can't see it.
It's not horrendous, and if you're an iPhone user you'll be used to a faster battery drain, but there's definitely a wistful air that hangs over me every time I check out the battery percentage in the top-right corner.
With iOS 7.1 we saw a 17% power drop in our techradar video loop test, which is decent enough, but with iOS 8.1 that became an even larger 25% drop. By the time we ran the test with iOS 9.2.1 that was up to 33%.
With the latest iOS 9.2.1 installed, we were seeing drops of around 15% every half hour when gaming, and a whopping 15% every 10 minutes when using the sat nav in Apple Maps.
There is a caveat here: if you buy a new iPhone 5S from Apple you'll get a brand new battery, not one that's been charging and draining for the past two-and-a-half years like the one in the techtadar test unit – it's pretty much on its last legs.
Those are still disappointing battery scores, though. With a new battery and iOS 9.2.1 (Low Power Mode and all) you might see a significant improvement, but this is a phone that's going to struggle to get to the end of the day if you use it in any serious capacity.
However, here's a great little update that will cheer you up: the iPhone 5S charges phenomenally quickly. REALLY quickly. I timed a charge at just a little over two hours from nearly dead – that's great if you just need a slug of juice on the run.
Unsurprisingly the iPhone 5S comes will all manner of connectivity options, but NFC is still the high-profile absentee at the Apple party. Not even the plastic clad iPhone 5C could tempt the firm to give us a bit of contactless tech, and it clearly paints a picture of where the brand stands in this area.
The latest iPhones and iPads have put Apple's NFC connectivity game on the map, but it's sadly lacking on the iPhone 5S. It's annoying because it means Apple Pay won't work with the iPhone 5S, even though it has the Touch ID component.
It's worth mentioning again that the iPhone 5S sports Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, 3G and 4G connectivity, with special mention of the latter as this phone supports the most LTE bands than any other smartphone of its vintage, allowing even more people to take advantage of the super-fast network.
As is now standard on iOS, the Control Center gives you a quick way to control Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, which are accessed with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen as mentioned before.
This brings up some shortcut settings, including toggles for both connections, plus you can also enable airplane mode here if you want to go off the grid – or, you know, if you get on a plane.
GPS and GLONASS also make an appearance to help you locate yourself in Maps with earth shattering accuracy (and very quickly, too) and navigate you round the world with the free turn-by-turn satellite navigation system.
The iPhone 5S sports Apple's latest Lightning connection port, so you shouldn't have any problem picking up peripherals or docks for the phone. The same standard is used on Apple's latest phones.
It provides a faster connection than the 30-pin port it replaced, enabling faster data transfer, so you won't be waiting around quite so long. Plus you can plug it in either way round, which saves scrabbling at night.
Apple's own cloud storage solution, cunningly named iCloud, is gradually getting more polished. It enables you to store all your vital information in its secure servers should the worst happen to your iPhone 5S.
You can back up everything from contacts, mail and calendars to photos, documents and notes to iCloud, and if you've owned an iDevice in the past you can download your settings from that onto your iPhone 5S, saving you from having to re-enter various bits of information.
iCloud also enables the 'Find my iPhone' feature, so if you were to misplace your new iPhone you can log onto the iCloud website and see where your phone is on a map.
Once located you have the choice of making play a sound so you can dig it out from behind the sofa, report it as lost or erase the contents of the phone – it's all very clear stuff.
No longer is there a reliance in Apple's desktop iTunes software when you come to starting up your iPhone for the first time – no physical connection ever needs to made to a computer during the lifetime of the 5S if you don't fancy digging out your Lightning cable (although you'll probably need it to charge the handset).
If you do decide it's time for things to get physical between your computer and iPhone then you'll need to make sure you've got the 11.1 and up version of iTunes installed, otherwise it will refuse to play with your new phone.
Why would you want/need to connect your iPhone 5S to your computer? Well perhaps you've got lots of music, movies and photos you want to transfer from your machine to your new phone - iTunes will pull it all in, churn it up and spit it out to your new iPhone in a useable format.
Using iTunes is a rather hit and miss experience, with the software performing far better on a Mac than a Windows PC, but either way it's usually a long, drawn out process which involves lots of syncing - so avoid it if you can, unless you're tremendously regimented in your music organisation.
It's another bit of software that Apple appears to have neglected while it focuses on churning out the world's best smartphones.
The iPhone 6 might only be one generation newer than the iPhone 5S, but to look at it you'd be forgiven for thinking there were several years between the two phones. It has a larger 4.7-inch screen and a whole new look, with a thinner, curvier design.
The iPhone 6 is also more powerful, as you'd expect with a generational leap, and it has noticeably better battery life, but beneath the surface much has stayed the same. The screen for example, while bigger and higher resolution (750 x 1334), retains the same pixel density.
It has an 8MP camera, just like the iPhone 5S, albeit with some improvements to the software, and both phones now run iOS 9.2.1.
With a starting price of £459/$549/AU$929 it is of course more expensive, and if you particularly want a small screen you may favour the iPhone 5S anyway, but if you can afford the extra outlay the iPhone 6 is a better buy for most. The increased screen size really is beneficial, and the better battery life improves on one of the 5S's main issues.
The iPhone 5S isn't really in the same league as the iPhone 6S, but as a one-time Apple flagship and a still fairly expensive phone it's worth comparing them.
Like the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6S sports a different and altogether more modern design to the iPhone 5S. It's also a lot more powerful, has a new 12MP camera, a larger 4.7-inch screen, better battery life and innovative new display tech in the form of 3D Touch.
While it's not a massive jump over the iPhone 6 it's night and day compared to the iPhone 5S. Of course with all these upgrades comes a big jump in price, as the iPhone 6S starts at £539/$649/AU$1,079. You also get the option of 128GB of on-board storage.
The iPhone 6S is the best iPhone yet and worth the money, but it's significantly more expensive than the iPhone 5S, so it's not remotely budget-friendly.
Few companies are making small smartphones these days, but with its Compact range Sony is still supplying them. The latest of these is the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and despite being a lot newer and almost packing flagship specs it's actually a similar price to the iPhone 5S.
It includes a 4.6-inch 720p screen, which is larger than the one on the iPhone 5S, but still pretty small and similarly sharp at 323 pixels per inch.
It's also powerful, thanks to an octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor and 2GB of RAM. Like the iPhone 5S it has a fingerprint scanner, but its battery life is way better and it has a top of the range 23MP camera.
The design perhaps isn't quite as premium but in most other ways you're getting a lot for your money and more than the iPhone 5S can deliver. The 5S might still look like a flagship, but the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact performs like one.
Remarkably the Samsung Galaxy S6 has now come down in price so much that you can get it for little more than the iPhone 5S and really there are only two reasons not to choose Samsung's phone- you want iOS, or you want a small screen.
At 5.1 inches the Galaxy S6 doesn't have a massive display, but it's substantially larger than the 4.0-inch screen on the iPhone 5S. It's also far, far higher resolution at 1440 x 2560, so images are crystal clear.
Unlike most previous Samsung handsets the S6 is also built from premium materials, with sheets of glass enclosed in a metal frame, leaving it looking just as high end as the iPhone 5S.
There is, of course, plenty of power too, not to mention a fingerprint scanner and a great 16MP camera. Battery life isn't great, but then nor is it on the iPhone 5S.
The latest creation from Google and LG is cheaper than the iPhone 5S, and is well worth considering if you want something that's both newer and less expensive – provided Android is to your tastes, of course.
The phone features an appealing design, some upper-mid-range specs and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with all the visual appeal of Material Design. The 5.2-inch screen runs at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
The camera is disappointing (as they often are on Android devices), so serious photographers will favour the Apple option. That said, the iPhone 5S is likely to get retired before the Nexus 5X, which only launched last year.
You get more power for less money with the Nexus 5X, although overall a lot of people would still plump for the iPhone 5S.
The iPhone 5S was Apple's attempt to stay at the sharp end of the smartphone market, and it's ostensibly an iterative update compared to the the two iPhones that followed it, which represent a real leap.
Detractors will point to the identical shell (colours aside) of the iPhone 5S and claim that it's not much more than a rebadged iPhone 5 (nope... that's the iPhone 5C, people) but to do that misses the point of this new device.
If you want to match the iPhone 5S spec for spec with other smartphones, then it's a difficult task - but it misses the point of Apple's device.
Below the surface Apple put together one of the most cutting-edge smartphones around in late 2013, imbued with a top-end camera and a really innovative feature with Touch ID.
There's only so much that smartphone manufacturers can do to differentiate these days, and while Apple can't expect consumers to be wowed by the same shell, it can expect to get some interest in the sharp camera and gives a sense of relief with the A7 chip.
The M7 chip is a really cool tool for developers to play with, although it still hasn't realised its full potential in terms of the the Health app and third-party tie-ins.
One bit of the iPhone 5S tech which definitely isn't out-dated is the 64-bit element of the A7 chip: it makes things like camera use so much faster, and facilitates the increased security in Touch ID.
I'll start with a different refrain: the screen technology on offer here is what upsets us most. Those people who upgraded from the iPhone 4S back in 2013 would have been disappointed to find they were getting the same screen resolution, albeit a bit stretched out.
In its own iPhone 5S world, the screen is just fine and looks great and clear – just as long as you don't clap eyes on one of the larger devices out there (like the iPhone 6 pair).
I do want to applaud Apple for sticking to its guns and offering up a decent choice for those that like a smaller display, but this is already too big for one hand, so a little more real estate wouldn't go amiss. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus upgrades are evidence that Apple agrees.
And then there's the price. Some reviewers don't seem to think this should be taken into account, that the mere fact Apple can command such a high cost for its phones, both on contract and SIM-free, and still sell millions shows this is a moot point.
Perhaps it was less of an issue when Apple was such a market leader, but now there are at least four worthy competitors out there, and they all cost less. Even taking the price drop into account the iPhone 5S still looks pretty expensive.
I can't see what lives in the iPhone 5S to justify it having been the most expensive phone on the market when it was released, although I do recognise the effort that's gone into the premium design and spec list for the 5S. Even in 2016 it remains at the pricier end of the scale considering the age of the technology.
Battery life is also little suspect for my liking, and you might want to considering buying a second charger to carry around when using the iPhone.
The iPhone 5S was, predictably, the best iPhone ever from Apple, but what's intriguing is just how much I enjoyed using this evolutionary device.
There's always a degree of apathy towards any kind of 'S' device from Apple, as it's historically just the same thing made a little bit better. But while it's true that the advances on the iPhone 5S are few, the ones that are there are very impressive indeed.
64-bit apps are now standard, and the A7 processor is clearly capable of some very heavy lifting.
Although we're over two years since launch and there still aren't that many high-power apps available to take advantage of this chip – which makes sense given there's not really enough RAM to support it.
The camera is improved impressively, taking some excellent shots with minimal backlift needed from the user, and the Touch ID sensor is the first real step into biometrics on a smartphone, and one that Apple has succeeded in implementing.
The new iOS 9 has helped things a great deal, adding features here and there, fixing bugs, and opening up possibilities for Touch ID and the M7 co-processor.
It's no longer the best iPhone on the market – that would have to be the iPhone 6S – but the iPhone 5S still has a place in the Apple ecosystem. For fans of smaller phones this is still the best option Apple has to offer, although as it ages, its place in that ecosystem will become ever more perilous.
The combination of iOS 9 to freshen things up with a powerful core and great camera mean this phone should be considered on its own considerable merits, and while the relatively high price will continue to put many off, anyone already wedded to the iPhone bandwagon, or even just on the fence, will find much to enjoy in a phone that's a lot more than an iterative update.