If you've been following the various iPhone 5s reviews, you'll see that the iPhone 5s is a real winner with the critics... I mean, it makes sense, right? An incrementally better iPhone that iterates on the already amazing iPhone 5? Of course everyone is going to love it. Well, after an epic night spent in line and as of this writing, well over 24 hours of being awake, I'm here with some first impressions of my just-unboxed iPhone 5s.

I've fiddled with a ton of games on the iPhone 5s, and you can sum up the experience in all of them with "It's just like playing on the iPhone 5, but with higher frame rates." 3D games scream, although without taking advantage of the brand new Open GL ES 3.0 support, all of them seem to look the same, even though they might be running a little better. The only game we really have to go off of to see any kind of improvement between devices is Infinity Blade III [$0.99], which as far as I can tell is the only game that's even vaguely optimized for the new device.

...And, like everything else, it runs better but you've really got to look hard to see any significant difference in the graphics department. Here are some screenshot comparisons to scrutinize, iPhone 5 screens are on top, iPhone 5s screens are on the bottom:

iPhone 5:

iPhone 5s:

iPhone 5:

iPhone 5s:

iPhone 5:

iPhone 5s:

iPhone 5:

iPhone 5s:

Aaaand finally, here's a quick video capture of some Infinity Blade III on the iPhone 5s, essentially starting exactly where those screenshots left off:

We're really going to need to dig into upcoming games to see which take advantage of the new features and functionality of the iPhone 5s, but right now I need to sleep with my fingers crossed that Jared comes home with more energy than me. Let me tell you, I vastly prefer the preordering process to this whole (at least in the Chicago area) stand outside for 12 hours in the rain thing!

Fingers crossed the next iOS device release isn't another line to stand in...

UPDATE: Well, in just my haven't slept in 28 hours and counting luck it'd seem that Chair released an update that apparently enables all sorts of iPhone 5s stuff... So, the reason these screens don't look that different is because all the extra effects weren't actually enabled until a few minutes ago. I'll redo the screenshots and video as soon as I get the update downloaded, which, of course, is taking forever.

UPDATE 2: OK, screenshots have been replaced with screens from the new updated version. For a look at the differences in antialiasing, check out the cloth canopies full size in both images.

UPDATE 3: Alright guys, I re-shot the whole video with the exact same fights with the new updated version of Infinity Blade III. If you want to get super-scientific, you can compare the old non-updated version of the game with the new version, as I'm keeping both videos on our YouTube channel for the sake of analysis.

  • Dorfdad

    The biggest boost ive noticed while not specifically on gaming is that the menus open fasters. On my 5 it had a half sec lag now it's quick. Also as for the game it's fantastic on 5S but ive had quite a few crashes of it on a brand new 5S with IOS7.01 installed

    • defunct32

      7.01 already?

      • dancj

        I think 7.01 is out for the iPhone 5s only.

      • Dammster

        And 5C.

  • Colin Hart

    Update just came out that improves fidelity on the 5s. You should take new comparison shots.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp


      • Rothgarr

        Are these the new screenshots after the update? I still can't tell the difference...

  • McBlink

    By the time enough apps take advantage of the A7 chip the six will be out and I'll jump on that.

    • sbnewsom

      Then there will be an A8....stop finding excuses and buy something whenever it is right for you.

      • McBlink

        "stop finding excuses and buy something whenever it is right for you." I will, when the iphone 6 comes out.

      • xexe


      • Brown Cow

        You mean the week before the iPhone6S is announced? Have fun always waiting for a better phone....

  • Boobi

    I pre-ordered my iphone5s cause I did not want to stand in line. Although I now have 2 weeks to wait. Its a trade off, pre-ordering it months ahead works better I agree with you there. I belie though that it cause problems because people online ordered and also went to store and if they found what they wanted they nought it and cancelled online order. Apparently there was a lot of that. Anyway happy to those who got their 5s today. Definitely let us know how specific games run on it. Any schumps bullet hells people want to try? DoDon Pachi resurrection.

  • Der-Kleine

    I know it's slightly off topic (not related to the comparisson of the iPhone 5 with the 5S), but am I the only one who finds the rather empty/small environments in Infinity Blade games somewhat unimpressive?
    What I'm trying to say is that I think devs like Chair could still get way more out of both the iPhone 5 and 5S (and other iDevices) if they tried.

    Maybe after seeing what Killzone: Mercenary can do with 2 year old hardware that has the same GPU as in the iPad 3 I'm just hard to impress...

    • B3nlok

      Obviously its a designbudget choice rather than technical limitations.Why would they increase environments densityassets while still keeping the core mechanics on-rails? If the benefits of having a more detailed area cant go beyond a pure aesthetics then there is no point in doing it.
      Furthermore i really dont see anything impressive in KZ M, other than nice real time reflections and good art design .

      • Der-Kleine

        They could have added some kind of interactivity with the environment to the combat, so the benefits could go beyond better aesthetics.

      • B3nlok

        I agree. I have been saying similar things for a while now. Utterly pointless sequel.

    • http://entrepreneurialblog.com Niclas Johansson

      KZ:M costs $39.99 on Amazon. Extrapolated from how supply/demand works, this implies that $39.99 is an accepted pricepoint for games on that platform. Try charging $39.99 for a game on the appstore and see what happens. Good luck!

    • Alan Baldwin

      Chair DOES have to target the lowest demographic - at this point, the 4S. On the 4S, IB3 chugged pretty hard on some parts (specifically, in the desert with the giant fans circling in the background.) and was nigh unplayable for a single fight.

    • C4

      It is one generation ahead 🙂

      It looks better then early Xbox 360 and PS3 games in some places.

      Memory bandwidth and access is also much higher on Vita which is important for "AAA" engines. The GPU is modified for texture and memory access hence the + in its name. On the other hand I doubt they run it at 300 MHz like the iPads.

  • Ahiru Nakamura

    I don't know about FPS or HDR/glooming effects and whatnot, but I think it looks better on 5 than on 5S, comparing the screens that is...

    • Der-Kleine

      I'd say the iPhone 5S shots look just a little bit better, the second set of screenshots shows it the best: On the iPhone 5S textures that are further away from the camera are just a little bit sharper. (They probably turned up the Anisotropic filtering in the 5S version)

      • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

        Agreed, the 5s shots do look just a touch better. Not dramatic by any stretch though. I would expect the biggest benefit being in motion and not stills, as well as loading times.

      • Ahiru Nakamura

        exactly.. it looks like 5S lacks anti-alias or something... the mountains to the left and right of the screen looks smoother and more realistic on 5... I dunno, maybe it's just me....

      • Der-Kleine

        The mountains look smoother on the 5 because the texture for those mountains is blurry due to how far away it is. The Antisotropic filtering makes it a lot sharper, which also makes it look a little bit more pixelated.
        Where the iPhone 5S undeniably looks better than the 5 is when you look at the grass to the right of the titan. It's a lot sharper on the 5S.

      • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

        It probably isnt just you, hearing they didn't even optimize it yet for the 5s. I guess they wanted to wait until release.

      • sbnewsom

        The screenshots haven't been updated with
        Actual 5s features yet.

  • zergslayer69

    I'm excited, I expect the ipad 5 to be at this performance if not slightly better! Imagine that, beautiful IB3 graphics on the big screen! (the ipad, not hdtv)

  • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

    I'm super curious to hear how much ram is in it. If it isn't 2gigs, I'll be a bit disappointed. Regardless, it'll be a huge boost for me, upgrading from a 4.

  • FraggleJP

    Yeah, the 5s seems even better graphics, but I'm still disappointed by the game compared to 2. And it's hard not to be suspicious about TAs automatic 5 stars to these big name games from uber companies.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      OK bro.

      • JJE McManus

        29 hours without sleep and counting
        Hang in there Eli

  • Taclys

    I honestly don't see a massive difference in the photos. The video does look and feel nicer though, frame rate is something you can't capture in pictures.

  • merrickal

    But considering apple is trying to sell rehashed iPhone 5, I hope that developers continue to support the old 5 (or 5c) and only apply optional graphical boosts to those with 5s. Otherwise a lot of people will miss out on playing awesome games just because their hardware ain't top of the line.

  • cofunguy

    Also like that on the 2nd pair of pics, the 5s has a butterfly than the 5 can't show,

    Also it appears on the 3rd pair of pics, that the 5s is showing 2 moons in the distant ?!? (Or are those 2 pixels that didn't get filled in properly on the right side)

    Do see a few changes but not a lot in "whoa cool" type of reaction between the two.

  • dcompiled

    Looking forward to the new comparison shots! One thing I noticed playing Infinity Blade III on my iPhone 5 (not 5S) is that when the camera zooms in close on textures (like the fancy wood and gold doors in the first castle) they get quite pixelated and ugly. I'd love to know if the 5s improves the texture resolution for these close-up zoom levels….

  • Mhunt190

    The only difference I see is lens flare and field of depth that's the only difference you will see in the game the texture and shows are the same on all devices.

    • Mhunt190

      Sorry meant depth of field lol

      • Guest

        I'm pretty sure depth of field is in the 4S/5 version of the game as well. (I only know that it's definitely not in the iPod Touch 4 version that I'm playing (for obvious reasons) and it's not something the 4S/5 wouldn't be able to do)

      • Mhunt190

        Forgot about the reflective armor in the 5S that is one feature I don't see on my 4s on iPad 3.

  • iAnimus

    How does the game run on a 4S, anyway? I'm getting conflicting comments, with some people are saying great, while others are complaining about framerate issues. Absolutely loved IBI and IBII, so this one looks like a must-buy, but I don't wanna buy an app that runs like crap on my phone and I'm gonna skip the 5S (for now, at least).

  • Mhunt190

    It runs fine on a 4S almost a smooth frame rate...almost

  • Dark Jak

    Not entirely on topic, but related, I can confidently say that the game runs fine on the iPod Touch 4G. It's not perfect, there are sometimes short lag spikes, mostly when finishing flashy combos, but the game is more than playable. I've only had two crashes so far, and both happened when visiting the Potionmaster from the Hideout.

    • Der-Kleine

      One bug I've seen a lot on my iPod Touch 4 is that in the menus quite often half of the icons won't load (there are just black boxes). Is anyone else having that problem? (It doesn't happen all the time but it isn't a rare occurance either.)

      • Dark Jak

        I do have the same issue. Randomly, and frequently several item icons will be black rectangles. A little annoying, but seems to only be cosmetic.

      • Der-Kleine

        Good to know that's not just happening to me...

  • Hampus Jensen

    A bit more foliage, a bit of AA, some shadows (particularly around the edges of the screen?) and a bunch of blur. Not a big difference, the blur seems a bit over done as well, in shots 3 and 4 the characters look more detailed on the 5 due to the blur on the 5s...

  • themostunclean

    Whoopee freakin' do

  • Eillusion

    Just got the 32g 5s waited online for only 3 hours. Ib3 is simply amazing on it, been playin non stop. Can't wait for more games to utilize this graphically beast phone.

  • Eillusion

    Oh and you do see a difference but as they said above it's the only game to use SOME of the 5s power. Can't wait for future games to take it to the max

  • rewyan

    The sky is darker and the blue circles are smaller on the 5s. Otherwise, I would argue that it's the same picture.

  • curtisrshideler

    Findings aside, DUDE, thanks for all the hard work... so we can get off of work and excitedly grab our iPads and find out the one thing that's been on my mind literally all day. Kudos, man. Now get some sleep!

  • luffy246

    Whats the difference , lol ( still love my i5 though ) 😀

  • Johangsl

    I'm playing it right now on my 4S, looks great as always! and this one is an amazing improve. I already prefer using Isa.

  • Pivi

    Well, the iPhone 5 screens looks sharper to me... That's because it's more pixelated, but from an optimal view it looks better for my eyes. The iPhone 5s screens're more blurrier.

    • Sheza1

      It's called anti-aliasing.

  • GFYantiapplezealots

    WOW the 5s looks WAY better!! I can't wait to play this on the new iPad!!