The iPhone 5S is finally here, complete with the long-rumoured fingerprint scanner, blazing guts with a second brain and all-new colours. Sounds good, but how does it feel? How does the thumbprint scanner work? The hands-on impressions have started rolling in, and the verdict is: pretty great, actually.
[The champagne iPhone 5s] actually looks better in person compared with the many leaked images we've seen. The sapphire crystal home button is not nearly as concave as previous models, a necessary change for Apple to integrate its new Touch ID finger scanner. it's almost flat but still maintains a nice, tactile feel when you click on it. We watched the fingerprint sensor unlock the phone quickly and easily (though we didn't get to try it ourselves), but presumably these were ideal conditions with iPhones that were fully acclimated to their handlers.
Typical of Apple, [the iPhone 5S is] a gorgeous looking phone. I went through the process of adding my fingerprint to the 5S and then unlocking the phone using the fingerprint. It's pretty seamless to do, just following the onscreen instructions. ...Unlocking the iPhone 5S was very slick — just rest your finger on the Home button and the phone unlocks immediately. You don't have to press or move your finger around waiting for it to be recognised — it just worked.
Apple's new home button is not only very impressive in practice — it looks good too, with the stainless steel ring adding considerably to the device's aesthetics. The new colours look good, too; 'space grey' replaces black and looks more like a graphite or a steel, and the gold colour, which I wasn't expecting to like, is actually pretty easy on the eyes in person.
It's certainly convenient: you can jump straight into using iOS 7 without even having to swipe the lockscreen. The sensor apparently works no matter what angle your finger or thumb is coming from, too, so even if you mash it awkwardly against the home button, you should get approval.
In the hand [the iPhone 5S] feels identical to the existing iPhone: the design, screen, weight, thickness and materials remain almost entirely unchanged.
In our first look it took about 15 seconds of finger prodding for the phone to determine an accurate print from various angles, after which we could unlock the phone by placing our digit on the home button. It's hard to argue this doesn't work well.