Apple unveiled the next-generation iPhone at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. on Tuesday. The iPhone 5S — revealed alongside a low-cost iPhone model, the iPhone 5C — keeps the same overall physical design as the previous-generation iPhone 5, but it also has a number of upgrades.
Calling it the most "forward-looking" iPhone it's ever launched, Apple equipped the iPhone 5S to run 64-bit apps (all previous models ran at 32 bits) thanks to a new processor: the Apple A7. It packs more than 1 billion transistors into a 102mm chip. Apple has re-engineered all the built-in apps — such as Mail, Calendar and iPod — for 64-bit architectures.
Apple says the new chip makes the iPhone 5S five times faster than the iPhone 5 and 56 times than the original iPhone. The A7 chip supports OpenGL 3.0/ES Version 3.0 for console-level 64-bit graphics. The upcoming Infinity Blade III will be one of the first games to take advantage of the upgrade to deliver improved graphics.
The iPhone 5S introduces a CoreMotion API for developers, consolidating sensor data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass. Apple says it's "optimized for contextual awareness," such as when the user is in a moving vehicle.
Apple says the system will empower a new generation of health and fitness apps.
One of the major additions to the hardware is a fingerprint sensor in the home button, which enables a feature called TouchID. The iPhone 5S scans the fingertip of the person pressing the button, eliminating the need for a lock code. TouchID also means the end of the repeated ritual of entering your Apple ID password every time you download a new app.
The fingerprint sensor, which has a protective layer of durable sapphire crystal, can store multiple fingerprints and read them from any orientation. They all reside, encrypted, on the A7 chip.
Major Camera Improvements
The iPhone's camera is also improved with new sensors that have 15% more area. The Apple-designed lens has five elements with an f/2.2 aperture. The larger sensor translates into bigger pixels that are backed by upgraded image-processing software that automatically sets white balance and exposure level in a dynamic, local tone map of the image
As predicted, the camera is equipped with a dual-LED flash. The two LEDs have different color temperatures, illuminating a scene with warm and cold light to draw out more natural color. The iPhone's camera also now includes a burst mode that snaps 10 still pictures in one second with automatic image stabilization. (Panorama photos go up to 28 megapixels.)
Finally, the iPhone 5S camera is capable of capturing HD video at 120 frames per second (fps). The video camera also has a slow-motion mode.
Battery life is rated as follows: 10 hours 3G talk, 8 hours 3G browsing, 10 hours LTE or Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours video playback, 40 hours music playback and 250 hours standby.
Apple is injecting a little more color into its flagship phone as well. The iPhone 5S will be available in white, black and now champagne gold, marking a change from previous generations, which were available only in white and black.
The iPhone 5S will go on sale Sept. 20 in nine countries: the United States, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK. Like previous generations, it will come with 16, 32 or 64GB of storage for $199, $299 and $399, respectively — as long as you sign a two-year contract with your wireless carrier (T-Mobile's installment pricing may be a little different).
By December, Apple plans to sell the iPhone 5S in 100 countries on more than 270 carriers. Apple will also offer dyed leather cases for $39 each.
Although the iPhone 5S and 5C replace the iPhone 5, Apple will continue to sell the iPhone 4S — albeit with just one storage option, 8GB.
Rumors have swirled around the iPhone 5S for the past year. Although competition in the smartphone space has heated up considerably in that time, Apple kept to its annual schedule of releasing the new iPhone in the fall.
The big question is: Will consumers still buy Apple's signature product as they used to?