The iPhone 5S

The iPhone 5S

My favorite phone, still.

I know, I know. The iPhone 5🅂 is OLD. It first came out in 2013. I remember convincing my girlfriend (now wife), to wait in line with me at the SoHo Apple Store in New York to pick up the first phone with TouchID.

I’ve owned every iPhone except the 6🅂. I was a little late to the original iPhone party, grabbing mine around October 2007. Then the 3G with faster cellular data, the 3G🅂 had much-improved speed (and actually recorded video!), the 4 was a gorgeous glass slab, the 4🅂 brought Siri, and the 5 gave us that HUGE 4” screen.

Then the 5🅂 came out with another massive speed-bump and Touch ID. The iPhone 5 industrial design is still my favorite. The 5🅂 kept the design (and that same look and feel lived on until last month in the iPhone SE). It feels great in the hand and even better in the pocket.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my iPhone X🅂 Max. I was a little uncomfortable on my old iPhone X because the keyboard was so small for my sausage fingers. Getting back to the “Max” size makes typing much easier for me. But, there’s something so appealing about a tiny little 4” phone.

I dug my old 5🅂 out of a drawer just to see how I felt about it. After a bit of wrangling to get iOS12 on it, here are my 2018 thoughts on a 2013 phone.

  • The size of the device is great. I forget how small phones used to be.
  • The size of the screen is not great. Typing on this tiny thing is damn near impossible at this point. Which is weird, because I used to think I was a pretty good typist on the smaller phones.
  • iTunes is still a mess. After 20 minutes of DFU mode and resetting the phone, I couldn’t get iTunes to see the phone. I opened the fantastic iMazing app and it saw the phone immediately and restored it in a few minutes.


  • The bring-your-phones-close-together setup thing worked flawlessly. Brought my X🅂 Max next to the 5🅂 and my AppleID, Wifi Password, and other info was transferred immediately. After a couple minutes of “Setting up your Apple ID”, we were up and running. I chose to set up the little guy as a new phone.
  • I immediately took a screenshot of the home screen. I Air Dropped it to my iPad, and it took nearly 30 seconds to “Prepare” the image to send. This thing is pretty slow by today’s standards.

iPhone 5S is SLOOOOOW

  • Here are the two screens, side by side in all their glory. That screen is tiny.

iPhone 5S to XSMax Comparison

  • Here are the two keyboards for comparison. I can’t believe we typed on that tiny thing.

Tiny Keyboards!

I’ve installed the Shortcuts app and put a few shortcuts on the phone (including the one to frame the iPhone 5🅂 screenshots). I’ve connected it to the WiFi and did some web browsing. The browser is still reasonably snappy. I loaded this site on both phones, and the 5🅂 managed load the home page just as quickly as the X🅂. Of course, I don’t use a bunch of trackers or javascript, so your mileage may vary.

All in all, this is still a pretty solid phone. The camera isn’t nearly as good, and it’s pretty slow, but it still runs the latest operating system and gets most of the new features. For a back-up phone or a kid’s first phone, the 5🅂 is still a decent choice.