Apple, on the 10th September 2013 announced two new flagship smartphones – the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c. This is the first time that Apple is launching two new smartphone on the same day, unlike its tradition of releasing one smartphone every year. For now I’ll be talking about the iPhone 5s (yes the ‘s’ is in lowercase now) which is still Apple’s flagship iPhone.
The iPhone’s design is exactly the same as the previous year the only cosmetic difference being the home button and the flash (more about those later). The phone is still the one to beat at an incredibly sleek, 7.6mm, and light at 112g. The phone has the same two tone back of the iPhone 5. The white/silver color will remain, a new space gray color will replace the slate option, and there’s an all new, high anticipated, gold one whose front and glass windows are white but the metal parts are anodized a light champagne-like gold that’s clean and unoffending.
iPhone 5s A7
Apple’s A7 chip 64-bit and twice as fast!
Just like every year, it’s got an upgraded processor dubbed the A7. But this time, it’s a 64-bit processor. In fact, it’s the first smartphone to actually feature 64-bit desktop class architecture for blazing fast performance. But it will still support old apps that run on 32-bit, so no issues expected there. Apple also claims that it’s super easy to convert your app to 64-bit. As of now 64-bit will only benefit gaming and very intensive apps because 64-bit really only shines when it has 4GB or more RAM to work with and Apple’s expected to include a maximum of 2GB RAM in the A7. Apple has promised that there’s a 2X performance improvement in the CPU and GPU which should be a result of newer hardware and not the 64-bit architecture.
The screen size remains the same at 4-inches, not surprising at all given Apple’s ritual of launching a differently designed smartphone every 2 years, and an upgraded performance iteration, keeping the design in between. The 4-inch display is still Retina Display with a pixel density of 326 ppi, the same as that of the iPhone 5. The Retina Display is one of the marvels of Apple, producing crystal clear picture without any oversaturation like on the AMOLED displays. It also gets very bright with decent outdoor visibility. It’s true that the competitors have gone leaps and bounds ahead of Apple with 400+ PPI pixel densities but Apple’s Retina Display is still one of the best you can find out there.
The most awaited feature to be added to the iPhone 5s feature mix was a fingerprint reader. Many rumors were going about months before the smartphone’s official launch, especially since Apple acquired AuthenTec for $356 million, which has lots of fingerprint scanning-related Intellectual Property (IP) and technology. So anyways, moving on, press the Home button, and just like that your iPhone unlocks because it scans your finger as you press the home button. It’s a convenient and highly secure way to access your phone. It’s a quick way to unlock your phone without the tediousness of entering a password. Your fingerprint can also approve purchases from iTunes Store, App Store, and the iBooks Store, so you don’t have to enter your password. This feature, called Touch ID, is capable of 360-degree readability, which means no matter what it’s orientation – portrait, landscape, or anything in between -the iPhone 5s reads your fingerprint and knows who you are. And because Touch ID lets you enroll multiple fingerprints, you can entrust others to use your phone. And every time you use Touch ID, the 5s learns more about your fingerprint, increasing it’s accuracy. The home screen button serves the purpose of the fingerprint reader, and is the only physical difference between the 5 and the 5s. The home screen button is made of Sapphire glass, which is the second hardest naturally occuring substance after Diamond, thus providing superior resistance to scratches caused during fingerprint reading or normal usage. There’s also a cosmetic difference where the iconic square on the circled home button is gone and replaced by a color specific stainless steel detection ring around the home button. Don’t worry about Apple storing your finger prints on their servers and giving access to the NSA, because your fingerprint is stored locally on the iPhone 5s’s A7 chip and it’s never uploaded or backed up. Apps have no idea how the fingerprint looks either because access is limited. The sensor only works with a living finger so yours can’t be hacked off and used, and further more your iPhone will request you to manually enter your passcode if the phone hasn’t been unlocked in 48 hours.
The 5s also utilizes a separate M7 coprocessor (M denoting Motion) to supplement the A7, specifically for measuring motion data from the gyroscope sensor, compass and the accelerometer. Apple opted to go for a separate processor for these tasks, so as to minimize battery consumption. Fitness apps, like the new Nike Move+ app, and GPS in the Maps app would engage the M7 processor, rather than the previous iPhones, in which the main processor would be used to handle these processes, thus dampening the battery life. This will open up a lot of opportunities as developers can have this data collected 24/7 with a very little impact on battery life.
The iPhone 5s ships with the latest version of iOS 7. It’s a completely redesigned version of iOS from iOS 6, that came before it. Apple’s preferred to go for a flatter design with iOS 7, making some users very happy with this change and causing despair for the other half, ditching the eye-popping three-dimensional looking icons and keyboard for this new look. iOS 7 introduces great new features, such as smarter multitasking, AirDrop, and Control Center, fully exploiting the 64-bit A7 chip of the 5s. Check out more about iOS 7 in our WWDC 2013 Roundup.
Now, the iSight camera. The number megapixels remain the same at 8-megapixels, but that’s no reason to feel let down. The improvements come down to the optics and hardware as well, and Apple has seriously done a lot here. The camera has a bigger sensor, in fact 15% bigger, so as to take in 33% more light. It’s got a bigger pixel area, measuring in at 1.5 microns vs 1.4 µ not he iPhone 5. The HTC One still has the iPhone beat with 2.0µ pixels but at half the resolution, 4MP. The camera has a wider f/2.2 aperture. All of this helps with larger light intake, resulting in an ultimately better picture. The faster and more powerful A7 chip in iPhone 5s includes a new image signal processor (ISP). This ISP is integrated with the iSight hardware and camera software, delivering faster photo capture and up to 2x faster Autofocus. The True Tone Flash is an all new dual LED flash system that uses one amber LED and another white LED to produce warm and cool lighting, and it exploits this asset in just the right way. These two LEDs work with intelligent software algorithms to adjust the flash intensity and color temperature, using over 1000 unique combinations to light your subject perfectly. The iPhone 5s has some good load of new features as well –
Burst mode lets you capture multiple shots of the action by snapping 10 photos per second. The 5s intelligently compares sharpness and clarity and even detects when someone’s eyes are closed and then suggests individual photos or a sequence the of photos that you might like best. Burst mode is also ideal for capturing an entire action sequence.
Slow Motion Video
Yes, I know it’s obvious from the name, but nonetheless, for the sake of completeness, let me elucidate. The iPhone 5s can shoot video at 120 frames per second at 720p. When you’re done, select the portion you want to slow down, and that clip plays back at quarter speed. You can change which part is in slow motion anytime.
Live Video Zoom – Just like you pinch-to-zoom while taking photos, you can apply the same protocol for recording videos as well, and while recording videos well, up to 3x times.
Shoot in Square mode, and the iSight camera automatically frames and crops your shot to a square format. It’s ideal for sharing them publicly- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on.
The iPhone 5s automatically adjusts the exposure for highlights and shadows while you pan. It also photographs the scene at 28 megapixels at an impressive 30 frames per second — that’s 50 percent faster than with iPhone 5.
Photo Filters – Basically, a built-in Instagram. One can add photo filter while taking the picture, or capture the photo normally at that special moment, and then add filters later on.
Improved front camera
The new FaceTime HD camera on iPhone 5s features larger 1.9µ pixels and an improved backside illumination sensor, for improved video and selfies.
Auto Image Stabilization – The iPhone 5s Auto Image Stabilization by taking 4 photos in a short exposure time and then intelligently combines the best part of each photo so as to produce a final single image with minimal blurring and shakiness. Ideal for capturing moving objects.
When you purchase an iPhone 5s ( or any new iOS device), you get to download 5 of Apple’s iLife and iWork apps for free – iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, Keynote and Numbers. For those of you who are hearing these names for the first time, iPhoto and iMovie are photo and video editing applications in a nutshell, while the latter three are mainly for study and work purposes, making presentations, reports, tables, spreadsheets,etc that sort of thing.
The iPhone 5s has an improved battery than the iPhone 5, with Apple claiming an upped 250 hours of standby time and 10 hours of LTE Internet Usage. The iPhone 5s has 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and more LTE bands that last year allowing it to work on TD-LTE and FDD-LTE networks, used in China and India. It will stick to using a Lightning connecter and nano-SIM card like it’s older sibling.
The iPhone 5s comes in three colors – Silver, Space Gray and Gold. Apple’s set to start sales of the 5s, starting on September the 20th. The 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB model will sell for $199, $299 and $399 respectively on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. You can get it unlocked and for T-Mobile at full price which starts at $650 and it’s another $100 for the next storage option. Apple is also making its own leather cases available in 6 colors, including Apple’s special Product RED version as well. The cases will go for $40 a pop. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one and check it out!