The big day has finally arrived! Apple’s media event today went off without a hitch and the company did indeed announce two new next-generation iPhones. Most of the rumors that have been circulating recently have been proven out. The iPhone 5S release today saw the advent of biometric security for the device, as well as the A7 64-bit CPU and the new champagne (gold) color option. This new paragon of smartphones is scheduled to hit stores on September 20th.
The iPhone 5S is the first smartphone to offer biometric security with a Touch ID sensor that allows the phone to be unlocked with just the touch of your fingertip. This is one of the most noticeable changes to the new generation of iPhones. The sensor is built into the Home button. It measures just 170 microns thick and can sense 500 pixels per inch in order to scan the sub-epidermal layers of the user’s skin. The sensor is capable of reading fingerprints from any orientation in 360°. The Home button has been upgraded to be composed of sapphire crystal in order to prevent scratches and damage that could impair the sensor.
The sensor has the ability to recognize multiple fingerprints, meaning that specific device parameter may be able to be attached to individual prints, giving parents and others a better way to control access on the device. The data collected during use of the Touch ID sensor is not exposed to other software nor backed up on Apple’s internal servers. These precautions give the device a very reliable security feature that cannot be stolen unless the device itself is somehow accessed (unlikely with biometric security).
The new top-of-the-line iPhone 5S is outfitted with a 64-bit chip that has been used in the past as an exclusive desktop-class chip. The A7 makes the iPhone 5S the first-ever smartphone to have such capabilities. The processor contains over one billion transistors, double the amount available in the A6. The next generation of the operating system, iOS 7, has been designed to take advantage of the new, faster processor with 64-bit capability on libraries, drivers and other aspects of operation.
The new A7 processing powerhouse is roughly twice as fast as that found in the A6. Graphics performance is also much better, about twice as fast as was available with the A6. Some Apple higher-ups have boasted about the faster speed of the iPhone 5S, saying that it is about 40x faster than was possible in the original iPhone.
M7 Motion Processor
The iPhone 5S also got a whole new piece of hardware, the M7 motion co-processing chip. The chip carries out measurements of motion data on a constant basis, meaning that a whole new world of health and fitness apps have opened up for the device. Some companies, like Nike, have already signed up to take advantage of these new capabilities. Its app, Nike+Move will utilize both the M7 chip and the internal GPS to track user activity.
The iPhone 5S sees upgrades to its camera, too. The new design offers an f/2.2 aperture and an Apple-designed 5-element lens. The sensor area is about 15% larger, allowing larger pixels and higher-quality photos. With iOS 7, the camera offers automatic white balancing, exposure levels, stabilization and autofocus matrix metering. It will also automatically choose the photo with the sharpest focus out of a series.
The flash also got an upgrade and has been dubbed as a “True Tone” flash by the company. The new flash sports dual LEDs and will address issues with color temperatures that have clashed in the past. The new flash helps improve the quality of low-light photos.
The camera has also been upgraded to offer both a “Burst Mode” that can capture ten FPS (frames per second) and a slow-motion video capture capability that functions at 120 FPS in 720p high definition. Both new features are easy to access and use, as they are integrated parts of the camera software.
The design of the iPhone 5S is not much different from that of the previous incarnation, the iPhone 5. The 5S still employs a high-grade aluminum back and cut, chamfered edging. The new iPhone 5S doesn’t look much different, but it has very different capabilities. It is also going to be offered in different colors than previous versions, including “space gray,” white with silver accents and the all-new gold option with white accents.
Talk Time and Battery Life
Apple insists that the increased processing power won’t be a huge drain on your battery. The company claims that the iPhone 5S will be capable of up to ten hours of talk time on 3G and about 250 hours of standby time. You’ll be able to listen to 40 hours of music in playback and have around ten hours of LTE browse time.
Pricing and Availability
The iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C (also unveiled Tuesday) are expected to be available in stores in the US, Canada, France, the UK, China, Australia and others as of September 20th. Even with the new capabilities, the iPhone 5S will stick with the price point of its predecessor at $199 when purchased with a two-year service agreement. This applies only to the entry-level 16-gig model. If you want to get the 32-gig model, it’ll run you $299 and the 64-gig model will be $399 if purchased with a two-year service agreement.