There’s a new iPhone. Well, to be completely accurate, there are two new iPhones. But the new iPhone 5s is Apple’s flagship phone, and it’s the best iPhone you can buy. It looks exactly like how the iPhone 5 looked last year but with improved internals and guts that will make everything run even faster. Twice as fast, Apple says. Oh, and it also has a fingerprint scanner.
There’s nothing too different about the design of the new iPhone 5s compared to last year’s iPhone 5. The icon-less home button has a silver (or gold) ring around it to signify the 5s-exclusive fingerprint scanner, but everything else is pretty much the same. Same unibody aluminium body. Same two-toned design. Same 4-inch display. All your cases for the iPhone 5 will work with the 5s.
One thing is new though: The iPhone 5s now has a new gold colour option, along with the usual black and white (which is now weirdly called “space gray” and silver).
Powering the iPhone 5s is Apple’s new A7 processor, which is a 64-bit chip. It’s the first 64-bit chip in a smartphone, and it will make the iPhone 5s two times faster than the iPhone 5 (and 40 times faster than the original iPhone). The 5s runs OpenGL ES 3.0 which makes the graphics performance in the 5s is pretty gnarly too (that’s 56 times faster than original iPhone). The A7 chip has three general-purpose registers, two floating-point registers and over a billion transistors.
Along with the A7, Apple is using a “motion coprocessor” in the 5s called the M7. It continuously measures motion data with an accelerometer, gyroscope and compass support. It’s supposed to “enable a new generation of health and fitness apps” by letting apps use all that motion data without tapping into the A7.
Just as we expected, the iPhone 5s’ home button pulls double duty as a fingerprint scanner. Apple dubs the feature ‘Touch ID’. The scanner adds another layer of security to your iPhone by allowing you to use the fingerprint scanner in lieu of a passcode. Place your thumb down on the new sapphire crystal home button and the iPhone 5s will unlock. The silver ring around the home button will detect when your finger is on it so you don’t have to actually press down on the button.
You can use Touch ID to make purchases in iTunes, and you can set it up so it can read multiple fingerprints.
The fingerprint sensor has a 500ppi resolution and 360-degree readability.
As with every new iPhone, Apple focused on making the camera even better. The iPhone 5s has dual-LED flash that might make the flash on the iPhone camera actually usable. Or at least slightly better than the weak excuse of a bulb that did more harm than good in previous iPhones. The dual-LED flash — one is white and the other is amber — in the iPhone 5s may help make your pictures look more natural and balanced because the iPhone can combine the right percentage and intensity of the two bulbs to create 1000 different variations of a flash.
The camera has the same eight megapixels, but megapixels never tell the entire story with cameras. The iPhone 5s has improved its camera by using a larger f/2.2 aperture and a 15 per cent larger sensor. Basically, that means the camera has 33 per cent greater light sensitivity, which will make for better-looking pictures.
Here’s an actual image taken with the 5s camera:
And here’s an image comparing the difference between the old flash and the dual-LED flash:
The 5s camera has an autofocus that’s twice as fast, auto image stabilisation and a new burst mode to capture 10 frames per second. The iPhone will analyse all those burst shots and show you what it thinks your best shot is. The iPhone 5s also has a slow-motion camera that allows it to record 720p video at 120FPS. Your videos of your cat will theoretically look more epic.
The iPhone 5s has slightly better battery life with 10 hours talk time, 10 hours LTE browsing and 250 hours standby. That’s an improvement over last year’s eight hours of talk time, eight hours of LTE browsing and 225 hours of standby. We’ll have to see how this actually translates in real-world use though.
Apple is in the accessories game. It’s selling a dock again for $39, which will fit both the iPhone 5s and the discontinued iPhone 5. There’s also a new leather case that comes in six different colours which will run you $48.
Price and Availability
The iPhone 5s will be available in Australia for a recommended retail price of $869 for the 16GB model, $999 for the 32GB model and $1129 for the 64GB model. It will be available to purchase in gold, silver or “space gray” on Friday, September 20 from Apple, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and other resellers.
iPhone 5s cases will be available in beige, black, blue, brown, yellow and (RED) for $48.
A new iPhone 4S 8GB model will also be available for $529.