The iPhone 5S: fingerprint sensor and improved camera, starts at $199 and coming September 20th


As expected, Apple’s just announced the iPhone 5S, an upgrade to the iPhone 5. It runs iOS 7, and looks almost exactly like the iPhone 5 but comes in different colors: silver, a new “space gray,” and gold — as was heavily rumored. The standout feature is Touch ID, which is an integrated fingerprint sensor in the new sapphire home button that scans your “sub-epidermal layers” at 500 points per inch to read your fingerprint and unlock the phone. You can also authenticate purchases, so buying apps, music, and movies in iTunes and the App Store just got a lot easier. There’s a capacitive ring around the that activates the sensor, and it can read your fingerprint in any orientation. You can also have it authenticate multiple fingerprints, so you can share your phone with specific family members without having to reveal your passcode.

Importantly, fingerprints are encrypted and stored locally on the A7 chip in the phone itself — Apple says fingerprints aren’t available to apps, nor are they sent to any servers or shared with iCloud.

The iPhone 5S will start at $199 for the 16GB model on a two-year contract, with 32GB for $299 and 64GB for $399. It’ll go on sale September 20th.

A new Touch ID fingerprint sensor and M7 motion coprocessor

As for internals, the iPhone 5S has a new A7 chip, which Apple says is the first 64-bit chip in a smartphone; iOS7 and the built-in apps are all 64-bit optimized. That all adds up to what Apple claims is up to a 40x bump in performance and a 56x bump in graphics performance, as well as support for OpenGL ES 3.0. Apple demoed Infinity Blade 3, which looked pretty astounding.

The 5S also has a new M7 “motion co-processor,” which continuously measures motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass — it’s there to enable “a new generation of health and fitness apps.” It works with a new CoreMotion API in iOS 7 that identifies user motion. It sounds a lot like the dedicated motion core in the new Moto X.

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The camera has been improved with a new Apple-designed lens with an f/2.2 aperture and a sensor that’s 15 percent larger — it’s still 8 megapixels, but each pixel is bigger to let in more light. The camera software in iOS 7 is optimized for the newer sensor and does an automatic series of adjustments to white balance, exposure, the tone map, and autofocus to take the best photo — and it take multiple photos and picks the best one for you. There’s also a “true tone” dual LED flash, with one cool blue LED and one warm amber LED so the flash matches the color balance of the light in the room.

There’s yet more with the camera: it can take 10fps burst mode photos as long as you hold the shutter, it has a 120fps 720p slow-motion video mode, and it does automatic motion reduction by analyzing multiple frames when you take a single shot. It can also take 28-megapixel panoramas, adjusting exposure automatically as you pan.

A bigger camera sensor and “true-tone” flash

Battery life is also improved, with up to 250 hours of standby, 10 hours of browsing on LTE, and 10 hours of talk on 3G.

The 5S has been leaking out in one form or another for weeks now, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. It represents evolution at the high end of the iPhone line, but the real news at this event is the $99 iPhone 5C — a lower-cost variant of the iPhone 5 targeted at low-cost carriers and markets like China where consumers buy their phones at full price.

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