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iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Should you upgrade to the new iPhone?


iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Should you upgrade to the new iPhone?

Do you go iPhone 6 or buy the iPhone 5S? We've lived with both Apple smartphones and here's our verdict

The iPhone 6 remains one our favourite flagship smartphones even with the arrival of the 3D Touch-packing iPhone 6S. While the design changes Apple made from the iPhone 5S were pretty radical, Tim Cook and company made the improvements where it really matters. We got a better camera, improved software and just a little more battery life among other things.

There will no doubt be many of you out there packing an iPhone 5 or even an iPhone 4S, weighing up the decision whether to save some money and upgrade to the 5S, or to go for Apple's latest handset.

We've been fortunate to spend considerable time using both Apple smartphones and we feel well placed to let you know what you'll gain or lose depending on which iPhone you go for.

The one obvious difference is that one will take up less space in your pocket, but there's a lot more to it than that to consider.

Here's our iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S verdict.

Watch our iPhone 6 video

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Design

iPhone 6: Curved aluminium, gold or light/dark silver, 6.8mm thick

iPhone 5S: Aluminium, gold or light/dark silver, 7.6mm thick

Let’s get this out of the way first, both these phones are at the top of the pile when it comes to design. Swathes of metal and glass cover each of them, giving both a truly high-end finish and a lovely feel when they’re resting on your palm. There’s no flimsy plastic, poorly finished details or sludgy buttons here.

While we’re big fans of the chamfered edge on the iPhone 5S, the curved body of the iPhone 6 fits better in the hand, though both phones still suffer from a lack of grip, mainly down to the lack of any texture on the back. We found ourselves having to put a case on the iPhone 6, as the bigger size meant it felt even more likely to slip unwillingly out of our grasp.

Apple may have removed the two tone colour styling that was present on both the iPhone 5 and 5S, but we still prefer it to the new banding that weaves itself around the rear of the iPhone 6. This design choice is there to improve signal, but it’s the one element that lets the looks of the 6 down. Granted, on the Space Grey model it does look a lot better than the two white models.

Shaving 0.6mm off the width of the iPhone 5S, the 6 is one of the thinnest devices we’ve ever laid our eyes upon. Though holding both in your hands you wouldn’t instantly notice the difference. While the iPhone 6 is slimmer, its size increase does come with a bit of a weight gain, going up from 112g to 129g. Again, this weight increase is far from noticeable and the iPhone 6 almost feels unusually light.

Related: iPhone 6S vs Samsung Galaxy S6

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Screen

iPhone 6: 4.7-inch 1334 x 750, “Retina HD” LCD with Ion strengthened glass, improved polariser

iPhone 5S: 4-inch 1136 x 640 IPS LCD

If you’re looking to upgrade from the iPhone 5S to the iPhone 6, the biggest reason why is probably the increased size screen and resolution. Moving from 4-inches to 4.7-inches is the biggest jump we’ve seen in screen sizes (not counting the iPhone 6 Plus) since the inception of the iPhone back in 2007 and it fundamentally changes the iOS experience.

Along with a bigger canvas to play with, the iPhone 6 also ups the resolution to Retina HD, or 750 x 1,334. While this is only technically slightly more than 720p, the iPhone 6's LCD display is beautiful. Colours are accurate, saturation is on point and there’s just the right amount of clarity. No, you don’t get those popping bright colours you would get on one of Samsung’s Super AMOLED panels, but it’s the accuracy and brightness that’s key here.

Both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 have great displays, with no pixels to be found in sight and they also boast the same 326 ppi pixel density. Viewing are impressive too. Tilt the phone to the side and you won’t be met with any shading or colour loss, which is always something we love to see.

If you’re looking for something bigger, the iPhone 6 is the clear winner and we really feel the 4-inch screen doesn’t have long left. But, the display on the iPhone 5S is still one of the most accurate around and we have no issue recommending it.

Related: iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S6

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Connectivity

iPhone 6: Bluetooth 4.0, 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, NFC (Apple Pay only), Lightning connector USB 2.0, Airdrop, Continuity, Car Play

iPhone 5S: Bluetooth 4.0, 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Lightning connector USB 2.0, Airdrop, Continuity, Car Play

Every update Apple increases the connectivity options in its flagship smartphone and the iPhone 6 is no exception.

New for the iPhone 6 is wider support for even more LTE bands, faster Wi-Fi with the 802.11ac speed and finally, NFC.

NFC, or Near Field Communication, has been commonplace in Android phones for years now, but Apple has always refrained from putting the tech into its phones. However, before you get your hopes up that you’ll be sharing info with a tap and connecting to compatible speakers instantly, the chip here is solely for one purpose, Apple Pay. Apple Pay in itself is a new feature for the iPhone 6 and lets you tap to pay at compatible outlets. While it’s currently only available in the US of A, we’re hoping it’ll land on UK shores sometime in 2015.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs Samsung Galaxy S5

Apple did a similar thing last year, only letting users use the Touch ID fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device, but with iOS 8 that all changed. Let’s hope the Cupertino company does something similar with iOS 9 and opens up the NFC chip to all.

Both devices boast Bluetooth 4.0 and this is especially necessary if you have a Mac running Yosemite, as it allows the two devices to connect with each through Continuity. This frankly awesome feature lets you start a message on your Mac and continue it on your phone or quickly switch from viewing a webpage on your iPad to seeing it on your laptop.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Performance

iPhone 6: 64-bit Apple A8 dual-core, 1GB RAM, M8 co-processor

iPhone 5S: 64-bit Apple A7 dual-core , 1GB RAM, M7 co-processor

As you’d expect, the newer iPhone 6 ups the internal specs in almost every way. The processor has been increased from the A7 to the A8, though it remains dual-core and the quad-core graphics have the pushed from a PowerVR G6430 to a PowerVR GX6450 CPU.

The motion co-processor has also been beefed up, moving from the M7 to the M8 and it now, amongst other things, calculates how many flights of stairs you traverse every day. It’s a neat trick, but probably not one to update solely for.

Swiping through menus, scrolling websites and playing even the most graphically games intense are all done with ease on 64-bit processors of both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S, though as time passes we expect to see more apps and updates from Apple to take advantage of the extra speed produced by that A8 chip.

RAM is, sadly, still at 1GB on the iPhone 6. Which for a high-end device is somewhat of a disappoint especially as Apple kitted the iPad Air 2 with 2GB. While the lack of RAM doesn’t make that much difference, you do notice that web pages always have to reload and your in app state won’t be saved for very long. We’d bank on the iPhone 6S (or whatever it’s called) to come with 2GB.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Speaker quality

iPhone 6: Single speaker on bottom edge

iPhone 5S: Single speaker on bottom edge

In terms of sound quality, both phones are evenly matched. That is to say that neither of them is very good.

Apple has stuck with keeping its speaker on the bottom edge of the phone for the iPhone 6 and having the sound point down, rather than at you, means you’ll often block it with your hand.

If you are hoping for the pounding audio you get with HTC’s BoomSound speakers, then you’ll be disappointed.

The iPhone 6 probably just pips the 5S to the post. Music and loudspeaker conversations are both a bit clearer and it packs a decent hit more volume to boot.

More: iPhone 6 camera: A Photographer's Perspective

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Software

iPhone 6: iOS 8.4

iPhone 5S: iOS 8.4

One of the things that Apple does well is ensuring older devices are running the latest software, so you won’t find the iPhone 6 rocking a separate version of iOS or coming packed with loads of exclusive features.

There are a couple of unique features though, one being a choice of homescreen views - Standard or Zoomed. Zoomed mimics the iPhone 5S and gives you larger icons and bigger text, but doesn’t really make the most of the new display size, while Zoomed spreads things out, shrinks down the icons and makes everything feel that extra bit roomy.

Another new addition is Reachability, which brings the whole display down with a double tap of the home button.

All the features that came with iOS 8, notably Continuity, Notification Center widgets, the Health app and improved APIs all work the same whether you’re rocking the iPhone 6 or iPhone 5S.

If you made the upgrade to iOS 8.4 then you've done it so you can enjoy Apple Music. This is the company's first music streaming service, which features single and family subscriptions with a 24/7 radio station where you can request songs to be played. Apart from that, there's a few bug fixes but it's really all about the music.

There's of course the prospect of iOS 9, which is set to hit sometime in either September or October, and while this isn't going to be a radical overhaul to the operating system it will add some nice new features. A new News app will replace the frankly awful Newsstand, taking a Flipboard-like approach to keeping you updated with all the latest stories.

Notes has seen a radical redesign which adds text formatting and plenty more, while Siri is now much smarter. A quick swipe to the left from the homescreen will bring up Spotlight, plus location relevant information and contacts. iOS 9 will work with both the iPhone 6 and 5S, with no features seemingly exclusive to the latter.

iOS may trail Android when it comes to customisation, but it still stands tall as the winner when it comes to apps. The App Store is packed to the rafters with useful, fun and productive tools and games and it’s really the iPhone’s standout feature. Apple also gives you free downloads, if you buy either an iPhone 5S or iPhone, of apps like its iWork suite and Garageband.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Camera

iPhone 6: 8-megapixel sensor, digital optical image stabilization, TrueTone flash, face detection, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1080p HD video recording

iPhone 5S: 8-megapixel sensor, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1080p HD video recording, TrueTone flash

We’ve spent plenty of time with both cameras on these two phones and we have to say they are both really quite fantastic.

Even though it’s now over a year old, the iPhone 5S still keeps up with the big boys of 2015 when it comes to detail and as it boasts the same amount of megapixels as the iPhone 6, picture quality is not too different.

But, there are a lot of improvements in the new model. Focussing is much quicker and more accurate, locking onto your target is almost instantaneous and you can quickly change to something different with equal amounts of speed.

Shots taken in the dark are also much improved. Pictures are still not perfect when the lighting conditions are less than stellar, but people and detail is much more visible and the iPhone 6 provides some of the best low-light shots on any smartphone.

Video has also been drastically improved on the iPhone 6. Footage is ridiculously smooth at 1080p and detail is fantastic. A new super slo-mo mode which records at 240fps (the iPhone 5S only does slo-mo at 120fps) again shoots professional looking video that can be slowed right down.

Have a look at our camera samples for a full-on comparison below

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S daylight photo comparison

iPhone 5S sample in good light

iPhone 6 sample in good light

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S low-light photo comparison

iPhone 5S low-light photo sample

iPhone 6 low-light photo sample

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S low-light with flash comparison

iPhone 5S low-light (flash) sample

iPhone 6 low-light ( flash) sample

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Battery Life

iPhone 6: 1810mAh non-removable battery

iPhone 5S: 1560mAh non-removable battery

Looking at the numbers you’d think that the iPhone 6 would have the better battery life, but due to the larger, higher-res display and beefier internals eating through more juice, that’s not really the case.

In real world testing, both phones last about the same amount of time, roughly a day of medium to heavy use. Unplug them in the morning and with a full day of use they should both have just about enough to see you through until bedtime.

We did find that the iPhone 6 lasted at bit longer when playing games and binge watching Netflix videos, but it seemed to drain more juice with doing the more mundane things like replying to emails and answering the phone.

Sadly, there are no nifty battery saving modes built into iOS, this is coming in iOS 9 though, so there’s no automatic way to conserve battery when you hit the red. However, as both phones are quick chargers, you won’t be waiting for too long by the mains plug.

SEE ALSO: Best iOS 9 features

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Price

The iPhone 6 is available in three flavours - 16GB, 64GB and a mammoth 128GB version and with prices starting at £539 SIM-free, it doesn’t come cheap. That price jumps to £619 for the 64GB model and again to £699 if you want 128GB.

It does seem a little unfair to compare the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 5S in terms of price because upon release, the iPhone 5S came in at the same price points. In fact, you’re actually getting more bang for your buck with the iPhone 6 because for the same price you’re getting 64GB instead of the now defunct 32GB.

If you buy a iPhone 5S right now, you have two options. For £459 you’ll get 16GB of storage, but for £40 more that will be doubled to 32GB.

The Verdict

Every year Apple releases an update to the iPhone line and every year it manages to improve the device in enough ways to make the upgrade worth it.

With the screen size jump this time around the decision to upgrade is even more important to think about. If you’ve been longing for an iPhone with more room for games, video and reading the iPhone 6 is most definitely for you.

But, it’s not just the increase in screen size that makes a iPhone 6 a worthy upgrade as there’s plenty more improvements too. A beefier A8 processor, fantastic camera that produces point and shoot worthy snaps and smooth slow-mo video at 240 fps and a crispy, accurate and bright display all combine to make this easily the best iPhone yet.

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Go to comments

Billy Paradise

January 24, 2014, 8:20 pm

Billy Paradise Iphone, ipad, macboock none of them are good, I will never buy one of those products apple again. The macboock after 15 months is completely slow, I can write 2 letters at the time than wait 20 sec than write again, iPhone 5 S 64 gb, no signal, close down when talking les than 3 months old, iPad: I went to genius bar to fix my iPad, but because I was going from work in working trousers(carpenter dust, caulk, glue) they haven't talk to me or helped me. I understand one product is not good but all products are bad after a few months. There is something wrong with apple

Kellan Fitsch

January 24, 2014, 8:29 pm

All I have to say is that apple products are too expensive to the point where I have decided to wait until the iPhone 6 is released and the price of the iPhone 4s is reduced before I actually PURCHASE one.


January 24, 2014, 9:32 pm

I think there is just something wrong with you. I'd have my Macbook since 2008 and it's still trucking.

Victor A. Ceja Jr

January 25, 2014, 4:11 am

I'm not sold on the rumor of the Iphone 6 being 4.8 inches. I will believe it when Apple announces it.

Ruslan Gaynutdinov

January 25, 2014, 6:12 am

IPhone 5s is already yesterday's news


January 26, 2014, 2:39 am

Ive had the same experience with samsung unfortunately because I like their products but after 2 samsung 2 s2's, 2 s3's, and 4 s4's and my tablet freezing out the box and when replaced same things again except 2 days later. No it's samsung so I'll continue to use apple and HTC until samsung proves me wrong about their products!


January 26, 2014, 8:26 am

Yeah, there is something wrong with Apple, you got that right! The most successful tech company with the largest base of customers, arguably best products, having other companies following it's lead---- well, according to you most really be doing something wrong!! On a serious note though, what have you been smoking? Seems like pretty strong stuff!!


January 26, 2014, 5:15 pm

It's the same story that was going around last year about the 5s and the year before about the 5.


August 5, 2014, 6:04 pm

thats disghuisting

Best Computer Monitor

August 7, 2014, 1:38 am

I don't like big smartphones. I hope it will not be excessively big.

Val Darling

August 9, 2014, 9:08 pm

My provider - Verizon - says I can upgrade on 08/22. Hate my current phone (my bad, went back to a Blackberry and it's just nothing like the Blackberry I loved years ago) I really want to make the change, but is it stupid to upgrade to an iPhone 5c in two weeks? Will waiting three or four weeks to get the iPhone 6 ..... while annoying! ..... be worth the wait in the end?


September 10, 2014, 6:29 am

Having a 5S myself, I would only upgrade to the 6+, but the price is insanely high compared to the G3.

Prem Desai

September 10, 2014, 9:48 am

In response to the headline - absolutely yes!!!

If you already have a 5s, you have demonstrated that you have disposable income and don't mind wasting it on mediocre objects. You MUST get this - pay extra or queue up outside the Apple shop a week early if need be otherwise you won't be able to get one for a while because of the artificially created shortage.

The smart people will buy something like a Moto G, Nexus 5 or a second-hand 4s (smaller).

This is not an iOS / Android thing as both do pretty much everything albeit slightly differently.

Once you dress up the 6 in the mandatory case, the slimness disappears. If you had a 6 in one pocket and the Moto G in another pocket, you wouldn't appreciate the difference
But your bank balance will.


September 10, 2014, 5:24 pm

How do you know it's mediocre until you've tried it?

Any phone loses slimness once it's in a case.

Got any rational or fact-based arguments? Or are you an Apple hater?

Prem Desai

September 10, 2014, 10:48 pm

No. Of course I haven't tried it.

How do you know it isn't mediocre - have you tried it?

Like most people, when I see a piece of poo on the street, I do not need to touch it or smell it - I just stay clear. Same with the iphone 6 - it looks like poo to me.

That is only my opinion. I will not hate you or tease you for getting it. Everyone has their own requirements, etc.

There is no rational behind liking or not liking something. Even when you read a review, it is only the review's opinion - there is no measure for this.

I own and use several Apple products and do not hate Apple.

Regards the case, on this planet, ANY case will add some thickness to a phone. If you can show me one that doesn't, I'll eat my trousers.


September 13, 2014, 11:43 am

I also have a MacBook from 2008 that still works great. I only had to replace the battery about mid-way through.


September 14, 2014, 12:33 pm

For me the iPhone 5 was verging on the 'too large' size. The iPhone 6 is just stupidly large and the iPhone 6 plus is ridiculous. Looks like I'm stuck with my 4S and maybe upgrade to 5 as a last resort.

Prem Desai

September 15, 2014, 9:39 pm

Have you ever thought of jumping the good ship Apple?

To be honest, both Android and iOS do pretty much everything but slightly differently. All major apps are available on both (windows has fewer apps, but if have what you need, then it's also an excellent alternative).

This is NOT and Android vs iOS thing - both have strengths and weaknesses.

I'm just trying to make you aware that you have a choice .....


September 16, 2014, 10:13 am

We have all three operating systems here, Android phones (Samsung and LG), Android tablet, Nokia Lumia 900 Windows mobile and an old Nokia Windows phone. Plus an iPhone 3 and 4S and an iPad2 running iOS 6 and 7. I think I can say we have given them all a fair trial.

Both Windows phones took all morning to get running, going through repeated dialogue boxes asking for the same information. Now we have them active, the Lumia is use solely as a nice device to watch films on the train, the other sits in a drawer. The LG lasted about three days and the Samsung about a day.

After years of using operating systems ranging back to CPM we decided that Android is one of the worst. It feels like work in progress, keeps you at arm’s length until you specifically set things up to use it. This is in the name of ‘user choice’.

My choice is that I want to pick up my phone and just use it. I want it to connect without hassles to Bluetooth, wifi, printers… and I want to be able to up and download to it without having to find an app to do so.

We got a new Canon printer recently, the iPad and iPhones connected automatically without any intervention, printing and scanning over the Internet from anywhere in the world. It has taken us a lot of time trawling the web to find out how to get the Android devices connected, including finding and entering a 32 digit number. They can see the printer but have yet to produce anything from it let alone scan on it.

That just about sums up our thoughts on Android. A cheap (as in free) operating system that is for those who want to ‘fiddle’ with their phones and tablets. But still work in progress and a long way behind iOS for sheer usability straight out of the box.

Adam Sarnovsky

September 16, 2014, 6:07 pm

good luck getting tinder bitties on android yo

Prem Desai

September 16, 2014, 8:18 pm

I've done the rounds with software too. Done CP/M, also coded in assembler, etc.

I must say I have not had your experience with devices and Android. I jumped the good ship iPhone 2 years ago and haven't looked back. I use an Epson and an Oki printer - all good.

Truth be told, iOS, Android and Windows all have issues - none of them is perfect.However, they all do pretty much the same things but in a different way.

All I was saying is if your screen options are limited by Apple, you do have a choice.

If iOS works for you, so be it...

Timothy G Vilgiate

September 17, 2014, 6:48 pm

I have both systems too, an iPad and Mac Book Pro, and a Dell desktop, as well as Sumsung GS3 phone. I feel sorry for you folks who can only see one system as being good. I love my Apple products, but my Samsung phone runs circles around my friends iPhone 4s. Times change and the iPhone 5s and the new 6 may be great, but my 2 yr. old Samsung never gave me any of the problems you state above in you post.


September 18, 2014, 9:09 pm

How much apples did they give you to help them out?

Viesta Morris

September 19, 2014, 11:56 pm

I had a iphone 4, I upgraded to a Iphone 5c, we had a electrical storm here and my phone was plugged in for a recharge, so I had to get a new phone, I got the Iphone 5s, I don't have disposable income, so I sort dislike your comment! Ummm yeah!

Prem Desai

September 20, 2014, 7:47 am

You have just gone and reinforced my point.

The 5s is an expensive device. You get get a lot more for your money if you look around. There are cheaper devices which will do more.

There is life beyond Apple - honest ....!!

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