DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

Apple’s iPhone line arguably launched both the mass-market smartphone era and the practice of what we now call mobile photography. The iPhone 5s sees the continued refinement of that line, with little exterior change to differentiate it from its predecessor but a lot of new stuff going on under the hood. 

The 5s follows the recent pattern of Apple’s “S” releases, with internal upgrades that promise improved performance and new features. In this case, the 5s packs a more powerful processor, a fingerprint reader and a fresh operating system (iPhone 4 and later models also get the OS upgrade). Most relevant for the mobile photographer, Apple has enhanced the camera with a slightly larger sensor (1/3 vs 1/3.2 inch), an innovative flash design, a fast burst mode and a few new software features.

Apple remains the only company whose product launches are widely considered international news, but the 5s finds itself facing unprecedented competition from a nuanced menu of Android handsets and serious imaging innovation in the Windows Phone camp courtesy of Nokia. We put Apple’s flagship through its photographic paces to see how it holds up against the rest. 

Key Photographic / Video Specifications

  • 8 megapixel 1/3-inch sensor, 1.5 micron photosites
  • Five-element 30mm equivalent F2.2 lens
  • Color temperature-matching dual LED flash
  • 1080p 30fps video recording
  • 720p 120fps slow-motion video recording
  • 1.2MP front camera
  • Panorama mode with dynamic exposure
  • Automatic best-image selection in single shot mode
  • Image-blending stabilization
  • 10 fps burst mode
  • HDR mode

Other Specifications

  • A7 dual-core 64-bit processor
  • iOS 7 
  • 4-inch 1136x640 326 ppi display
  • Fingerprint reader
  • 16, 32, or 64GB internal storage

Our 11-page review

We've considered every aspect of the iPhone 5s camera, with the photographer in mind. We examined the user interface of the native camera app and its special features. We experimented with the camera's performance when taking stills and video, and had a play with the device's many special feature modes. Click any of the links below for more information of specific functions and continue to our conclusion for a final summary of our findings.