Apple's new flagship smartphone has some fresh features but you might tell the difference from the iPhone 5 at first glance.
Apple has unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5S. Sporting a fingerprint sensor and an improved camera, while being up to twice as fast as the previous generation, the iPhone 5S looks to be another stellar smartphone entry.
The iPhone 5S starts at £549 ($649) for a model with 16GB of storage, with prices going up till £629 ($749) for 32GB, and £709 ($849) for 64GB of storage. Compared with last year's iPhone 5, the starting price is £20 higher, and makes it more expensive than competition from the likes of HTC, Samsung and Sony.
Prices on-contract, directly from mobile phone operators, will be slightly lower when taken out with relatively expensive monthly plans. Whichever way you look at it, the iPhone 5S is a pricey proposition. The iPhone 5S marks Apple's first introduction of a fingerprint reader called "Touch ID". The sensor sits under the traditional home button, allowing users to ditch passwords and unlock their iPhones just by swiping their finger across the home button. It's a major leap forward in both phone security and usability because users will no longer have to remember PINs or passwords. The Touch ID will also allow the user to purchase music, apps and videos through the phone.
Five fingerprints can be stored on the device to unlock the iPhone but only one can be associated with your iTunes account. Kids will be able to unlock the phone, but will be prevented from buying apps, videos and music. Your fingerprint data is only stored on your phone and it isn't sent over the internet or stored on Apple's servers, which should help keep prying eyes away from it and your data secure.
For the iPhone 5S, Apple's improved the camera compared to previous iPhones by increasing the size of the image sensor. This means significantly higher low-light performance, which should result in better pictures captured in the often-poor lighting conditions. Party photos from dimly-lit homes should be clearer, sharper and with better colours compared to pictures captured by the iPhone 5 and 4S. While Apple has barely changed the design of the iPhone 5S compared with last year's iPhone 5, maintaining its pin-sharp 4-inch retina screen and thin and light body, it is available in a new colour, gold. The traditional black (rebranded as "space grey") and white ("silver") colours are also available.
iOS 7, a complete redesign of Apple's mobile operating system, is also launching with the iPhone 5S. It looks to revitalise the unchanged iOS, and has taken the approach of "flat" yet colourful design. Improvements are available across the board for all of Apple's built-in apps such as Mail, iMessages, Calendar and Photos. It's worth noting that the iOS 7 update will also be available for existing iPhones, including the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.
Apple has given the iPhone 5S with its latest processor. The Apple A7 combines a new 64-bit architecture with improved processing capabilities, which should result in a doubling of the speed of the phone compared with the iPhone 5S. Coupled to the new A7 processor is a new co-processor called the M7. Its job is to collect data from the various sensors the iPhone 5S has, including the GPS, processing the information without waking the main A7 chip. In doing so, it should allow various apps and services to continually pull data from the phone's hardware while still delivering an iPhone 5-level of battery life or a good day's worth of use.
The iPhone 5S should be able to achieve a longer useful battery life than the iPhone 5 and other iPhones. Apple has stated that its new flagship will be capable of 10 hours talk time, 10 hours LTE browsing and 250 hours standby. This is an improvement over the iPhone 5's times of eight hours of talk, eight hours of LTE browsing and 225 hours of standby. Real-life battery usage will vary.
The iPhone 5S certainly looks good. With its revolutionary inclusion of a fingerprint sensor in a mass-market phone, which could potentially remove the need for passwords and truly enhance the user experience. The rest of the phone is just as it was for the iPhone 5, and you would be able to tell the difference between them from a quick visual inspection. The internal parts have been upgraded, and the new camera system could make a real difference to your photos. Smartphones aren't all about internal specifications, and are much more about experiences, which is something Apple is very good at delivering. Combined with the new iOS 7, the iPhone 5S should be very good indeed.