By Alexandra Burlacu | Sep 11, 2013 11:04 AM EDT
Apple officially unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5S, complete with the fingerprint sensor, improved camera and better processor, as rumored.
Leaks and rumors preceding the big announcement left little room for surprise, and the iPhone 5S is what everyone expected. Just as the iPhone 4S launched as a slightly better version of the iPhone 4 with minor upgrades, the iPhone 5S is a slightly buffed iPhone 5, also with minor upgrades.
"iPhone 5S is the most forward-thinking smartphone in the world, delivering desktop class architecture in the palm of your hand," boasted Philip Schiller, Apple's Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing, in the press release. "iPhone 5S sets a new standard for smartphones, packed into its beautiful and refined design are breakthrough features that really matter to people, like touch ID, a simple and secure way to unlock your phone with just a touch of your finger."
The fingerprint sensor does add a much-hyped security option that will favor BYOD programs, but the iPhone 5S in its entirety doesn't seem all that exciting. While Apple praises its latest flagship, many tech observers and consumers were rather disappointed.
Specs, features, performance
The iPhone 5S's fingerprint reader called "Touch ID" rests under the smartphone's Home button, as expected, allowing users to unlock their iPhone simply by swiping their finger. The Touch ID marks an important step forward in terms of security and ease of use and it will also allow users to purchase music, apps and videos through the iPhone.
Users can store up to five fingerprints that can unlocked the iPhone, but only one fingerprint will be linked to their iTunes account. Fingerprint data will only be stored on the iPhone itself, without sending it over the Internet on Apple's servers (remember the Siri debacle?)
When it comes to design, Apple didn't change much compared to last year's flagship iPhone 5. The iPhone 5S retails the same 4-inch Retina display and the same body, but it's available in a new gold color. The classical black, meanwhile, has been rebranded as "Space Grey."
The iPhone 5S also brings the new iOS7, which marks a complete redesign of Apple's mobile OS. It sports a "flat," colorful design and brings various improvements for all built-in apps such as iMessages, Mail, Calendar and Photos. The new OS will be available for previous iPhones as well, including the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.
In terms of processing speed, the new iPhone 5S should be twice as fast due to its Apple A7 SoC, which combines a new 64-bit architecture with enhanced processing. A new M7 processor is also paired with the A7, collecting and processing data from the smartphone's sensors without involving the main A7 chip. This way, the smartphone's apps and services can continually pull data from the iPhone 5S's hardware while still allowing for a good battery performance of at least one day on a single charge.
Camera-wise, the iPhone 5S provides a better experience than its predecessors by packing a larger image sensor. This should allow for better low-light performance, thus clearer images and richer colors compared to the photos captured with an iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S.
According to Apple, the new iPhone 5S sports an improved battery performance compared to the iPhone 5, allowing for 10 hours of talk time, 10 hours of LTE browsing, and 250 hours of standby. It remains to be seen, however, if real-life battery usage will indeed be better on the new iPhone 5S than the previous iPhone 5.
iPhone 5S Pricing & Availability
The iPhone 5S will be available in the U.S. for a suggested retail price of $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB version and $399 for the higher-capacity, 64GB model. The new flagship smartphone will be available from the Apple Online Store, the company's retail stores, through all four major carriers - AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile - and through select Apple authorized resellers.
Apple's latest flagship iPhone 5S will launch in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK on Friday, Sept. 20.
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