Apple today unveiled the iPhone 5S, the latest top-end smartphone from the labs at Cupertino. The iPhone 5S takes Apple to a level of luxury that it has not breached before, rendering obsolete its history of white and black iPhones and replacing them with high-grade aluminum that will come in silver, gold and "space gray."
But the iPhone 5S is a lot more than just a good-looking smartphone. Apple is calling it the "most forward-thinking phone yet."
Apple revamped the internal architecture that runs the iPhone 5S to include a new A7 computer processor, a PC-like 64-bit kernel and a new processor it is calling "M7" (a "motion coprocessor") that will continually monitor motion data. Apple claims that the iPhone 5S is 40 times faster than the original iPhone released in 2007 and five times faster than the iPhone 5.
The camera on the iPhone 5S is a new "five-element Apple designed lens" with a F2.2 aperture that the company says has a 15% larger sensor area and "true tone flash" that is designed to take more realistic looking pictures with the new camera. The flash has two LED-based lights to help balance light quality with each individual picture. The camera app has been updated in iOS 7 to support the new sensor and flash that Apple says that it will support 1000 unique variations of light settings. The pixels are bigger in the iPhone 5S camera, allowing for a clearer picture from the iPhone 5. The video setting captures HD streams at 720 pixels at 120 frames per second.
The iPhone 5S also comes with a fingerprint sensor that Apple is calling "Touch ID." It uses your fingerprint on the "Home" button to authenticate you as the user and unlock the device. The Home button is covered with sapphire crystal so it won't scratch and surrounded by a stainless steel "detection ring" that knows when you are pushing your finger against the button.
Touch ID can be used for authenticating the user when buying apps in the App Store (no more entering your iTunes ID to buy apps). The Home button and Touch ID are thin at 170 microns. It reads your fingerprint at 500 pixels per inch resolution scans in 360 degrees, meaning you can touch it from any angle and it will unlock your phone. Apple says that your fingerprint will never be uploaded to Apple's servers or its iCloud service and that other apps on the iPhone will not be able to access Touch ID in any way.
The iPhone 5S will run Apple's new iOS 7 operating system that has a sleek "flat" new design and a variety of new features to take advantage of the new 64-bit architecture on the phone.
The iPhone 5S will retail at $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB on a two-year contract. The iPhone 5S will be available September 13 for pre-orders and available in stores on September 20th in the United States, Canada, Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Overall the iPhone 5S will be available in 100 countries on 270 different mobile carriers. It will be available on all four major carriers in the U.S.
Apple also announced that its iPhone 4S will stick around in its product lineup and that an 8GB version will be available for free on contract.
Image courtesy REUTERS/Stephen Lam