iPhone 5S - Does it still make sense to buy?

By Arjun Onkarnath1

15th November, 2015

While using my iPhone 6 Plus as a primary driver, I was wondering which phone to use as a secondary device for my 'very personal' second number, and I thought of something that I have never even considered before - buying a smartphone model that's two years old.


I went ahead and bought an iPhone 5S for not one but 10 reasons. Here they are:


Apple Advantage 1: No need to unlearn or learn


As an existing iPhone user, using iPhone 5S was a breeze as I did not need to learn anything new nor unlearn anything. I have seen many iPhone users whose second phone is a cheaper Android phone and they keep struggling between using and understanding functionalities.


Apple Advantage 2: It fits your Palm


If you haven't paid close attention to the smartphone market, you might not be aware: The iPhone 5S is one of the last good compact phones you can buy anywhere in the world. One of the very few, that makes big sense for small hands. Or easily fit in a tight jeans pocket or the shallow pockets of a Bermuda. Or use on a moving bus or train with your free hand.


Over the past couple years, pretty much every company producing smartphones decided that big, beautiful and thin was the way to go; stretching screen sizes to 5, 6, even 7 inches to stay ahead of the pack. Even Apple wasn't immune: The newer iPhone 6 and 6S have 4.7-inch screens, compared to the 4-inch screens of their most recent predecessors. These days, an Android phone with a 5-inch screen is considered small. But the iPhone 5S has a 4-inch screen and outer dimensions that make it feel tiny or, if you're coming from a small phone era, circa 2013, it makes everything else feel unspeakably large.


Where did all the small phones go? Over dominance is always overthrown by revolutions. Here's the short version: Apple was eating up so much of the phone industry's profits that Samsung hit back successfully by starting big screen phone revolution with their original 'Note' devices. Thus began of the rise of the 'phablet'. Soon there were more than a dozen vendors, Indian, Chinese, American, Korean and Japanese brands, selling 5” to 7” screen phones.

That meant "people with small hands" and "people who prefer smaller phones” were ignored and were taunted by the brands to migrate to the phablets. Final nail in Steve Jobs coffin was when Apple launched iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.


Apple Advantage 3: It fits your purse (Believe it or not!)


The price point of around Rs. 27000 got me interested in iPhone 5S. It is a great price for a phone of this capability. I could say at this price point it was “best and cheap” deal out there.


Just check out the iPhone 6s and 6S Plus launch price in India. Probably the most expensive when compared to any other market of Apple in the world - with prices starting at Rs. 62,000 (that's almost $1000). In comparison, at Rs. 27,000  - iPhone 5S seems like a no brainier deal.


The Apple advantage 4 – iPhone 5S runs the latest iOS9 OS


I hear what you're thinking - Isn't the iPhone 5S still too old? Wouldn't someone be better off with a Galaxy S5 from last year?


Not necessarily. Unlike Android phones -- which generally depend on a complex relationship between phone makers, cellular carriers and Google to stay relevant and get the latest software updates -- the iPhone only depends on Apple. Go ahead and search Google for "Galaxy S5 Lollipop," and you'll see just how long it can take for last year's top Android handset to get new features and how many nasty issues can pop up. And surely very few of the last year's android phones (except for the 'Nexus' branded ones) would ever see the latest 'Marshmallow' update from Google.


Meanwhile, the iPhone 5S was running iOS 9, the latest operating system from Apple, on the very same day it came to every other iPhone. In fact, Apple brought the iOS 9 update to the earlier iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S as well...which is a pretty good thing for folks who might buy a new iPhone 5S for the first time and hope to get similar software updates down the road.


The Apple advantage 5 – All Apple Store apps run on iPhone 5S


Even a year or two from now, I bet you'll be hard-pressed to find apps that won't run on an iPhone 5S. We all know that there are only strictly qualified apps in Apple Store unlike Google Playstore.


The Apple advantage 6 – iPhone 5S is slim from both inside and outside


Samsung and other manufacturers of Android phones (except for the ones made under the brand name 'Nexus') are also notorious regarding filling up your phones with bloat ware - that's the technical term for unwanted programs that slows your phone down. That's why android phones with even 3 GB of RAM also struggles and stutters at times.  The iPhone 5S doesn’t thrust any bloat ware!


The Apple advantage 7 – iPhone 5S hardware is still powerful


The iPhone 5S hardware is also surprisingly not that out of date -- because the 5S was the phone that quietly set the bar for most every device that came after.


Though the Apple A7 chip is definitely a couple generations behind the latest and greatest mobile processors, that shouldn't scare you off the way it might with an Android phone. The A7 is still part of a continuum of Apple chips that app developers can't afford to ignore. For instance, the new Apple TV actually only has an A8 processor, not the latest A9, and it was only the most recent iPhone 6S and 6S Plus that finally saw Apple devices graduate to 2GB of RAM. The A7 in the iPhone 5S was also the first with 64-bit processing, so it should still be relevant if or when Apple phases out support for earlier 32-bit chips.


The M7 motion co-processor that lets it track your fitness and save battery life is still a fantastic feature.


The Apple advantage 8 – iPhone 5S camera is still difficult to beat


A vastly improved camera that let in more light, recorded 120fps slow-motion video and added a burst mode. Top end Android smartphone cameras are just now managing to surpass the photo quality, video quality and ease of use, which iPhone owners were enjoying two years ago.


The Apple advantage 9 – iPhone 5S is secure and future ready


The iPhone 5S was the first to introduce the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and keeps your phone safe from intruders. While you can't use that fingerprint sensor with Apple Pay to buy your next cup of joe, don’t worry as India is not going to get Apple Pay anytime sooner.


Icing on the cake is, the iPhone 5S is compatible with Apple Watch which just got launched in India. You can pair it with the new launched Apple Watch (review coming up) to add that functionality.


The Apple advantage 10 – iPhone 5S has loads of accessories to pamper it


You can find loads of old iPhone 5 and 5S cases and attachments at a steep discount these days. Also - Apple service in India is absolutely marvelous and you can also easily buy extended warranty (which I ALWAYS do with my Apple devices).


For hardcore pragmatists here is a quick decision table:



Decision Metric - Apple IPhone 5S




1. Hardware


Apple A7 chip and M7 motion co-processor

Powerful and fast


2. Software



Absolutely latest that is running on iPhone 6


3. Applications


Apple Store

Choose from best of qualified applications


4. Learning/Unlearning Quotient


Zilch for an existing iPhone user

Fits into your life seamlessly


5. Design and Ergonomics


4” Retina Display in a metal body

Fits in to your palm for “one hand use”


6. Camera


8MP iSight camera (rear) and 1.2MP Facetime camera (front)

Still one of the best cameras in business. Lifelike photos and crystal clear videos


7. Security


Touch ID finger print sensor

For ensuring secure access to your phone thereby protecting your private information


8. Future Proof

Compatible with latest iOS9, Apple Watch etc

New technologies and services launched by Apple is made compatible with your phone to keep it relevant


9. Service


Apple Service centers and Apple Protection Plan

Upgrade Warranty and also get service support close to your place anywhere in India




Around Rs. 25000

Just about Rs. 1000~Rs. 1200 per month if you choose the right EMI plan



Bottom line:


I'm indeed an Apple fanboy, and for a reason. I have used a magnitude of Android and Windows phones for day-to-day use. I've gotta admit I'd pick a 2-year-old iPhone in a heartbeat over a 2-year-old Android handset -- particularly an iPhone 5S, and not just for those looking for a second handset which is secure and personal.



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