Apple has finally revealed the iPhone 5S, its long-awaited successor to the iPhone 5, alongside the colourful plastic iPhone 5c at an official launch event in San Francisco.
want to know the difference between the new phones? Read our iPhone 5s vs iPhone 5c comparison
It’s about time Apple fans had a new object of desire, as the Android competition has been getting much stronger with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC Oneand Sony Xperia Z piling on the pressure. Read on to see how Apple has answered the critics.
iPhone 5S design
As expected, the new handset will be available in a choice of “space grey”, “silver” or “gold” colours, retaining the same glass and aluminium body from the iPhone 5 except with some aluminium edging that gives it that little extra bit of bling.
The 4in display remains unchanged and Apple has stuck with a “Retina-class” 1,136×640 resolution panel. This is unsurprising, seeing as it’s already impossible to spot the individual pixels from an average viewing distance, but will still come as a disappointment for anyone hoping to watch Full HD video (or even 720p content) natively on their morning commute.
The power button is still at the top, next to a 3.5mm audio jack. The volume buttons and mute switch are still on the side and the Lightning connector is still found at the bottom – all in all a very similar looking handset to the iPhone 5.
The only new physical addition to the iPhone 5S is the TouchID ring built into the home button. This silver ring acts as a fingerprint reader for enhanced security. It can read in any orientation and scans below the epidermal skin layers. To avoid scratches, the home button is now made from sapphire crystal.
Want to learn more about Touch ID? Read our breakdown here
The rear camera sensor is around 15% larger than the outgoing model, and uses 1.5 micron pixels for improved low-light shooting. The f/2.2 aperture is larger too, and is paired with a twin-LED flash for even more light when shooting in dark conditions. Apple calls it “True Tone”, with one cool white flash and a second warmer amber LED that automatically adjusts depending on lighting conditions for the best picture. Image stabilisation and best shot selection are both automatic. There’s also a burst shot mode and 120fps slow motion video recording at 720p, along with the new filters found in iOS7.
iPhone 5S performance
Inside, Apple has upgraded the A6 processor found in the iPhone 5 to an A7 CPU. It’s a 64-bit chip, to take advantage of the 64-bit version of iOS 7 it will run. It should be up to 40x faster in terms of CPU performance and 56x faster for GPU tasks than the original iPhone, and can run OpenGL 3.0 games like the 2013 Nexus 7.
It is paired with an M7 Motion Coprocessor, which handles accelerometer, compass and gyroscope duties. It can tell whether you’re walking, driving or stationary, and app developers will be able to tap into it in combination with GPS. Despite the presence of two processors, it should still manage 10 hours of 3G or 4G browsing, or up to 250 hours of standby on a single charge.
It also supports global LTE bands, apparently more than any other smartphone in the world, so will have no trouble working on 4G networks in every country it launches in – including here in the UK, where you’ll have a choice of EE, Vodafoneand O2.
The iPhone 5S will launch with iOS 7, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. It’s a major visual departure for the software, with a pastel colour scheme, flattened icons and no more skeuomorphic elements (the way the notes app looked like real lined paper).
Multitasking has been improved so apps update through push notifications, not just when you switch back to them from other apps. Notification Sync will please owners of multiple iOS devices, as swiping a message away from an iPhone 5S will also dismiss it from an iPad.
The redesigned Notification Center now lets you scroll through messages, emails, tweets and other notifications in a long list. Tabs separate updates into Today, All and Missed, so you don’t need to worry about things falling through the cracks.
The major addition is Control Center , which puts common settings and toggles such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Flight mode and brightness in one location. A swipe from the bottom of the screen brings up the menu, which also includes a flashlight, music playback controls, a camera shortcut and a calculator. All five iWork apps will be free to download too.
Finally, AirDrop shares whatever you’re currently doing to any nearby iOS 7 device using Wi-Fi. Tapping the AirDrop icon shows who is in the vicinity, and selecting them automatically shares.
Price and availability
The iPhone 5S will go up for pre-oder on the 13th of September, alongside iOS7 for existing iPhone, iPad and iPod models. It will go on sale a week later on the 20th of September. Prices start from $199 on a two-year contract in the US for a 16GB model. The 32GB version will cost $299 and the 64GB will set you back $399. In the UK, SIM-free prices start at £549 for the 16GB, £629 for the 32GB nmad £709 for the 64GB model.
We’ll be taking a closer look at the new phone a little closer to launch, so be sure to check back later in the week.
BREAKING DOWN THE RUMOUR MILL
Even before the official unveiling, we knew thatiOS 7 would launch in the autumn, and Apple rarely launches a new OS without some new hardware to go with it.
As is customary with Apple launches, very little confirmed information had leaked out, but there are always clues suggesting what the company has planned. Brand new hardware was always going to be saved until the iPhone 6, which is expected to launch in 2014.
We were expecting the iPhone 5S to look similar, albeit with a few cosmetic tweaks, to the iPhone 5, primarily because of Apple’s quarterly SEC filings. The financial documents showed $903m spent on equipment purchases, compared to $4.5b two quarters previously. The larger spend was due to heavy investment in new screens for the iPhone 5 – which wasn’t necessary for the new phones.
We weren’t convinced by rumours that the iPhone 5s would have a higher-resolution display than the iPhone 5, because the screen size didn’t look likely to change. Apple already calls the iPhone 5 a “retina-class” handset, where you can’t see individual pixels when holding it at a normal viewing distance, so upping the resolution would be pointless without increasing the screen size.
Two or three different screen sizes were also suggested for the iPhone 5S launch. There’s no question large-screen smartphones, such as the 4.99in Samsung Galaxy S4, are growing in popularity, but different screen sizes for a single product isn’t really something Apple does.
In fact, Tim Cook has said in the past, “My view continues to be that the iPhone 5 has the absolute best display in the industry, and we always strive to create the very best display for our customers. Some customers value large screen size, others value other factors such as resolution, colour quality, white balance, brightness, reflectivity, screen longevity, power consumption, portability, compatibility with apps and many things.
“Our competitors had made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display. We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist.”
We imagine that the larger iOS smartphone will end up being the iPhone 6. Apple could have a large screen phone for those that want it, but continue selling the smaller, more pocket-friendly iPhone 5S.
There was a possibility that the iPhone 5S would be Apple’s first foray into IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) display panels. The result would have been a slightly thinner and significantly brighter display than the iPhone 5, that would be far more energy-efficient than previous models. We first saw the technology at CES in January, when Sharp debuted IGZO displays for the first time inside a 32in 4K monitor. Apple reportedly approached Sharp about its technology following that reveal, about both the iPhone 5S and the upcoming iPad 5, but in the end we’ve still got the same panel seen in the iPhone 5.
Historically, the iPhone has been available in either black or white, but the iPhone 5S added a third colour. Apple Insider originally reported that a “trusted source” expected a third Gold colour option to be added for the iPhone 5S.
TechCrunch heard from “multiple sources” that the iPhone 5S will be available in black, white and gold. To avoid looking tacky, Apple ultimately went a champagne hue, like Hi-Fi kit from the last decade than the blinged-out rims on a footballer’s SUV. Colours tend to cycle in and out of fashion, so perhaps it’s time for champagne gold to be cool again, and it certainly gives Apple a phone that stands out from everything else.
iMore backed up those initial rumours with some technical information on how easy the phone is to make. “According to our own Ally Kazmucha, who’s no stranger to the process, gold is among the easiest colors to anodize onto an iPhone. It involves simple chemical reaction, with the possible addition of dye depending on the exact color they want to produce. (True black, conversely, is the hardest, and takes the most time, which is likely why we currently have ‘slate’ instead.)”
There was every possibility that the iPhone 5S would get a faster A7 processor, a step up from the A6 chip found in the iPhone 5. A recent iPhone 5S photo leakshowed a new processor in the phone, but there were no rumoured specifications and we didn’t know how many cores it had.
Lots of other manufacturers moved to quad-core parts last year, but Apple stuck with dual-core largely because iOS only required two cores to stay efficient. We expected Apple to make the switch, but it has instead stuck with dual-core and opted to move to 64-bit processing model instead.
This leaked shot was allegedly of an iPhone 5S, showing a new A7 processor
Manufacturing date codes on the processor and memory put their production dates in October and September 2012 respectively. MacRumours said that the prototype itself was built in December 2012, so it’s likely a very early example of the proposed iPhone 5S design. There’s a very good change the final product may differ greatly from that pictured, but until someone like iFixit performs a breakdown, we won’t know exactly how accurate the leak was.
The iPhone has a reputation for the quality of its integrated camera, but in recent months the competition has taken the lead. The Nokia Lumia 920, HTC One and Sony Xperia Z have all been sold on the quality of their cameras.
Vietnamese site Tinhte, which has previously managed to get Apple hardware early, said the iPhone 5S will have a 12-megapixel sensor. That jump would improve photo resolution, but could also increase noise. Fitting high-resolution, but physically small, sensors means that there’s less light per pixel, which can have a knock-on effect when shooting in low light. Instead, Apple opted to remain at 8-megapixels, but increase the size of those pixels for more detailed photos.
Leaked shots also hinted that the camera would have a dual-LED flash, making it easier to take shots in darker environments. That proved true, although Apple’sTrue Tone system remained a secret until the launch.
Following the launch of a 128GB iPad 4 we knew Apple had the ability to put huge internal capacities in its devices, but as Apple said the 128GB iPad was intended for CAD and music production apps, it was unlikely a 128GB iPhone would be announced. In the end, only 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models were revealed.
IPHONE 5S TOUCH ID, FINGERPRINT SCANNERS AND NFC
The final rumours before launch suggested that the iPhone 5S would get a fingerprint reader and NFC. When combined, the fingerprint reader could authenticate NFC payments to make the smartphone a secure way to buy goods and services.
Taiwanese reports suggest the fingerprint reader will be made by Chipbond, which has secured a huge contract to supply Apple. Apple recently bought Authentec, which built a new fingerprint/NFC security system – this fuelled speculation about the capabilities of the new phone. However, NFC was by no means a certainty, as AirDrop was originally introduced as being better than tapping two phones together – a dig at the way NFC and Android works.
The iPhone 5 had several different variants, with each one sold in a different country based on specific 4G frequency support. There’s no global model which supports worldwide 4G, so we were expecting Apple to resolve this with the iPhone 5S. If not only for customer convenience, it would also reduce costs for the company in the long run. That proved accurate, although we don’t yet know which manufacturer is providing the global LTE chip.
IPHONE 5S PRICE
If there’s one thing you can count on for Apple, it’s reliable pricing. Pretty much every time a new product is launched, it costs the same as the outgoing model. We expected £529 for the 16GB model, £599 for 32GB model and £699 for the 64GB model, but in the end Apple raised the price slightly to £549, £629 and £709 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB respectively.
Deals will, of course, be available from mobile operators if you buy the phone on contract.