Apple Steps Up its Camera Game with iPhone 5s

| Analysis

The iPhone's camera has been sitting at 8 megapixels ever since the iPhone 4S, and with the introduction of the iPhone 5s, that hasn't changed. Even though other smartphones offer higher camera resolutions, Apple has managed to find ways to make its 8 megapixels look surprisingly good, and with the just announced 5s, it's working to make those 8 megapixels more compelling, too.

Apple's iPhone 5s camera makes more of its 8 megapixelsApple's iPhone 5s camera makes more of its 8 megapixels

The iPhone 5s's 8 megapixel 1.5μ pixel camera bumps up the sensor size, and includes an f/2.2 aperture instead of the f/2.4 aperture from the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c. That combination means users can get higher quality images from the iPhone 5s compared to other iPhone models, and that photos taken in low light conditions should look clearer, too.

Apple's 64-bit A7 processor bumps up camera performance overall for faster image capture and auto-focus. The camera also supports auto-image stabilization, includes a burst mode that captures 10 images a second, and the new dual flash offers more natural lighting than previous iPhone models. On the video side the iPhone 5s supports HD video, just like the iPhone 5, but also supports slow motion video capture at 120 frames per second.

Rounding out the specs, the iPhone 5s camera includes a five-element lens, a hybrid IR filter, face detection, photo and video stabilization, and photo geotagging.

Bundle up all those features and its clear that Apple is serious about the images iPhone users take, megapixels be damned. The best camera is always the one you have with you, and since your iPhone likely goes pretty much everywhere, Apple wants to make sure that's your go-to choice.

Selling consumers on the iPhone's comparatively lower megapixel count won't be much of a problem for Apple. Instead of focusing on technical specs, Apple targets emotion with its ads and shows how its products fit user's lifestyles. That emotional draw pulls at consumer's hearts, and except for those that always go by the numbers, makes for a compelling reason to pick up an iPhone over other smartphones.

That said, Apple is backing up its emotional pull with some nice features. Burst mode will no doubt get plenty of use at sporting events, and the built-in facial recognition plus better low light image capture will be welcome at social gatherings.

People will line up to buy the new iPhone anyhow, and Apple knows that. Giving us more with the built-in camera means we're even more likely to leave our point-and-shoot at home.

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]

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8MP is plenty for most uses anyway. How often are you going to make a 20x24 inch print from a iPhoto shot? 98% of these photos end up in the bit bucket, and the rest are posted to Facebook at 640x480.

Good on Apple for not bloating file size for its own sake. Make the images look good, and the millions of extra pixels don’t matter.

Lee Dronick

The new camera, and the Touch ID may compel me to upgrade sooner than I usually would. I have been taking more photos with my iPhones than I have ever had with film or my digital cameras. I still have and use my Canon Rebel, but the iPhone is almost always with me.


Here’s the problem: People like someone posting on MacRumors “Apple should have used a larger sensor with at least 10 Megapixels”. That is people who don’t realise that “10 Megapixels” means the sensor is cut into 10 million instead of 8 million pixels, who don’t realise that cheap cameras are sold with more megapixels without increasing the sensor size which just reduces quality, and who don’t realise that Apple actually _did_ increase the sensor size.

Lee Dronick

Good point Gnasher. Also the proof will be in the pudding when we see more photos from the new camera compared to what the competition has.


I too have been using my iPhone 5 more and more as a camera. I also use lenses from Schneider Optics - the iPro Lens, all 5 of them, and have got excellent macro and portrait shots. For the camera alone, the 5S is a great buy.


Barry, you make a good point. I have been looking at DSLR’s while my Powershot G11 sits gathering dust. It is a great camera on it’s own, for the money, with vastly better image processing apps than any camera out there.

One additional feature Jeff was the addition of exposure correction during panorama shots… this is going to be bomber… smile


I’ve taken some really good HDR shots with my 4s.  So I’m expecting even more when I move to a 5s. I just wish I could see the screen better in bright sunlight…

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