Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Apple's iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S: The reviews are in

September 18, 2013: 7:56 AM ET

No rotten tomatoes. The stock is starting to recover from last week's drubbing.

401197244294FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) should be pleased with the notices that came in overnight. All the reviewers so far have liked the new iPhones. The only question was which device they liked best.

Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal: A New Touch for iPhone. "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. You can get the new OS free of charge... Overall, however, the new iPhone 5s is a delight. Its hardware and software make it the best smartphone on the market."

David Pogue, New York Times: In Arrival of 2 iPhones, 3 Lessons. "Now, Apple's competition in the Android world is fierce and gaining; the competitors include phones that are equally beautiful (from HTC), phones that take spoken commands without your having to press a button (from Motorola) and phones in every conceivable screen size (Samsung). But that doesn't mean that the iPhones have been overtaken. The iPhone's ecosystem is a deal-sweetening perk — the best apps; the best-stocked online stores for music and movies; smooth synchronizing of your calendars, addresses and even photos among Apple phones, tablets and Macs; and enough cases and accessories to reach from the landfill to the moon."

Rich Jaroslovsky, Bloomberg.  Solid New IPhones Fail to Excite. "After a week of using them, my view is simple: If you like Apple products, you'll like these; if you don't, you won't. With its ease of use, enormous wealth of high-quality apps and content and well-integrated online services, the iPhone still provides the best overall user experience of any smartphone. But while Apple has never introduced this many iPhones, it's also never changed so little from the previous generation."

Anand Lai Shimpi, AnandTech: The iPhone 5s Review. "The iPhone 5s is quite possibly the biggest S-update we've ever seen from Apple. I remember walking out of the venue during Apple's iPhone 5 launch and being blown away by the level of innovation, at the platform/silicon level, that Apple crammed into the iPhone 5. What got me last time was that Apple built their own ARM based CPU architecture from the ground up, while I understand that doesn't matter for the majority of consumers -- it's no less of an achievement in my eyes. At the same time I remember reading through a sea of disappointment on Twitter -- users hoping for more from Apple with the iPhone 5. If you fell into that group last time, there's no way you're going to be impressed by the iPhone 5s. For me however, there's quite a bit to be excited about."

Scott Stein, CNET: Same look, small screen, big potential. "The good: The iPhone 5S delivers an improved camera, a nifty fingerprint sensor, and a next-gen CPU and motion-tracking chip. Apple throws in the iWork app suite for free. iOS 7 adds some nice step-ups, too, including AirDrop file transfers and the Android-like Control Center. The bad: External design is identical to that of the iPhone 5, including a 4-inch screen that looks downright tiny next to Android competitors. For now, the fingerprint sensor only works with Apple apps. The 64-bit A7 processor and M7 motion-tracking chip don't have killer apps yet. iOS 7 differences are potentially jarring for longtime iPhone users. The bottom line: The iPhone 5S is not a required upgrade, but it's easily the fastest and most advanced Apple smartphone to date."

Myriam Joyire, Engadget: iPhone 5S review. "Is the 5s the best iPhone ever made? Yes, though that shouldn't come as a surprise. Apple took a good product and made it better through hardware upgrades, new features and a completely revamped software. In what would otherwise be considered a mundane update to the iPhone 5, Apple somehow managed to appeal to both the geek (64-bit support, M7 coprocessor, Touch ID) and the average Joe (a fresh, colorful iOS 7), all while laying the groundwork for the company's future."

Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch: iPhone 5S Review: Apple's Latest Smartphone Goes For (And Gets) The Gold. "With the iPhone 5s, Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available. The hardware may resemble its predecessor in many key ways, as with the 4-inch Retina display, but it improves dramatically in areas like the camera where it makes the most difference to every day users, and in the addition of the fingerprint sensor, which is already a feature I miss when I switch back to older generation devices or the iPhone 5c. And thanks to the 64-bit A7 processor, this phone, more than any iPhone before it, is likely to be the device that grows more appealing as the software ecosystem catches up, which is great news for buyers looking for something that isn't so easily replaced by the next big thing that comes along."

Jim Dalrymple, The Loop: The iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. "There are a couple of reasons a company makes changes to its products. One is to improve it, making it better for its users; the other is to give people the perception of change in hopes of selling something shiny and new, when it really isn't. I'm all for new features, but if they don't actually help me get things done more efficiently, then you have to ask, "what's the point?" I ask myself that question quite a bit when I'm looking at any new product, including the new iPhones. I must say, I'm quite happy with the answers I've come up with."

Harry McCracken, TIME: Apple's iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iOS 7. "Apple is never going to be a company that makes a phone for everybody. That's fine, because everybody who isn't smitten with its products has other worthy choices. But with the iPhone 5s and 5c, the company is finally offering new models for two different types of somebody. Just as important, anyone with an iPhone 4, 4S or 5 can upgrade to iOS 7, Apple's freshest thinking on what a smartphone operating system should be in 2013 and beyond. Which means that the news isn't just about two new iPhones. It's about a whole new iPhone, period, and millions of people who thought they had old iPhones will be along for the ride."

Vincent Nguyen, SlashGear: iPhone 5S Review. "Would we pick the iPhone 5s over the iPhone 5c? In a heartbeat. The camera, convenience, and performance increases make that a no-brainer decision for smartphone power users. That trifecta of talents also makes a strong case against the top-tier Android devices, too: Apple still dominates the market for hand-friendly phones with flagship performance. The iPhone 5s may be Apple's evolutionary stage, but the combination of usable technological advances and the benefits of iOS 7 add up to a supremely compelling device."

Ben Bajarin, Techpinions: S is for Superior. "I've stated before that my personal preference is iOS. I've vetted and tested every competing device and OS flavor out there and after all this experience I concluded that the iPhone continually helps me be more efficient and more productive day to day. What I have realized is that although Android does many of the same things, the iPhone simply does them better. And with the iPhone 5s and iOS 7 it now does them a lot better."

John Gruber, Daring Fireball: The iPhone 5S and 5C. "You can't swing a stick and not hit some Apple bear beating the drum that Apple is no longer capable of innovation. They could do it under Steve Jobs, can't do it without him, and the proof is in the pudding. Under Steve Jobs, Apple released innovative products like clockwork: iPod, iPhone, MacBook Air, iPad. Under Tim Cook, nothing but the same products, slightly improved.

"What a pile of crap."

Join the Conversation
About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

Email | @philiped | RSS
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.