updated 02:00 pm EDT, Tue September 10, 2013
Touch ID sensor brings fingerprint recognition to iPhone
During Apple's omnibus iPhone and iOS 7 announcement today, Apple officially revealed the iPhone 5s. The device boasts Apple's new 64-bit A7 processor, and is constructed of "high-grade aluminum" with chamfered edges, now being offered in three colors: silver, gold, and a new "Space Gray" color. Also added to the phone are a new motion-sensing chip, as well as a greatly improved camera and flash system.
The new A7 processor has what Apple calls "64-bit desktop-class architecture," a modern instruction set, a pair of general-purpose registers and two floating point registers, all in a 102 square-millimeter die size. The new chip won't require recompilation of apps, since it supports both 32- and 64-bit titles -- but software optimized for the 64-bit kernel will perform better. Xcode will be updated to support the chip, and Apple has already updated its own apps to take advantage of the new processor.
Also in the A7 chip is support for the OpenGL/ES 3.0 graphical specification, giving the phone a boost in video performance in addition to the enhanced graphical power the new phone has. Apple calls the 5s "over twice as fast" as the iPhone 5, and up to 56 times faster than the original iPhone in some graphic tasks.
Another piece of the new hardware is the M7 Motion co-processor, which works in conjunction with the A7. According to Apple, the M7 continuously measures motion data; it contains the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass for the device, and will enable "a new generation of health and fitness apps." Support for the processor is included in iOS 7's new CoreMotion API.
The phone's 3G talk time is said to be 10 hours, with the same amount of time also possible with 4G surfing. The device can be in standby for up to 250 hours without a recharge.
The rear camera has been upgraded as well to "a new, five-element Apple-designed lens." It uses a fixed f/2.2 aperture, with a 15 percent larger active sensor area. The camera supports burst shooting, and a software image stabilization algorithm in the camera can auto-synthesize the sharpest image from multiple exposures under low lighting conditions. Other features include sensor-assisted automatic white balancing, and local tone-mapping to tailor the two-color flash in a feature Apple calls "True Tone." Over 1,000 unique variations of the two colors are possible, depending on the lighting condition of the subject. The specific resolution of the sensor is 8MP, the same resolution as the iPhone 5 -- but with larger pixels being used for enhanced range.
The burst mode can produce up to 10 frames per second. The shooter is additionally capable of 120fps slow-motion video at 720p, or 30 fps at 1080p resolution.
As rumored, Apple has introduced fingerprint identification. The Touch ID capacitive sensor is built into the home button with 500ppi resolution, and a sapphire lens over the sensor to prevent scratching. The technology is intended mostly for unlocking, but can also be used to authenticate with iTunes for media or app purchases. The sensor is capable of recognizing multiple fingerprints from different users; as a privacy precaution, fingerprint data is never passed to Apple's servers, or other apps.
The phone has wide support for 4G -- support for 17 different bands are encapsulated within four different variants of the 5s. The wide support will allow the phone to launch on networks in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UK, and the US. Notably included in the list is support for the TD-LTE protocol, which China Mobile will be using as it builds out its own LTE/4G network in China (the new phone is already supported on China's second and third largest networks, China Unicom and China Telecom). Though Apple has not revealed a deal with China Mobile yet, the support indicates that an agreement has been reached or is about to be announced. In Japan, the 5s and 5c should be the first iPhones on NTT DoCoMo, that country's largest carrier.
The 16GB version will cost $199, with a 32GB model available for $299 and 64GB for $399. All prices are contingent on a two-year contract. Unlocked, the 5S is available for $649 for 16GB, $749 for 32GB, and $849 for 64GB. As with the iPhone 5C, the iPhone 5S will ship to stores on September 20. There appears to be no pre-order process or date for the iPhone 5S, hinting that initial supplies may be limited.