Ladies and gentleman, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. As expected, this afternoon’s day-brightening news (or part of it, at least) arrived in Cupertino in the form of a brand-new handset. CEO Tim Cook took to the stage at Apple HQ to introduce the world to the iPhone 5S, the second of two handsets announced today. The new phone follows the number / letter naming scheme set in place way back in twenty ‘o nine with the introduction of the 3GS and carried on with 2011’s 4S. As with those handsets, the new device’s name implies that this round is something of an iterative update to last year’s iPhone 5. According to Phil Schiller, the handset is “the most forward-thinking phone we’ve ever created.” As expected, it’s set to arrive in three colors: black, silver and gold. The 5S is crafted in high-grade aluminum with chamfered edges.
What the the “S” stand for? Well, inside, you’ll find a 64-bit A7 processor that features twice the number of transistors as its predecessor, clocking in at more than one billion, according to Schiller — the CPU and GPU, meanwhile, promise speeds twice as fast. There’s OpenGL ES 3.0 on-board, but the next-gen handset still promises, thankfully, to remain compatible with the 32-bit apps of yesteryear. The 5S also rocks the new M7, which monitors motion data in real-time, with help from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass — a feature that’ll work nicely with fitness apps like the new Nike+ Move.
And what of that ever present issue of battery life? Apple’s promising a full 10 hours of 3G talk time and LTE browsing. The phone should also stay alive for 40 hours of music playback for all of your live Grateful Dead material and 250 hours on standby. Imaging, not surprisingly, is getting some love on this refresh as well. The camera features a sensor that’s 15-percent larger than the one on its predecessor as well as a five-element Apple-designed lens with a f/2.2 aperture. Also on-board is autofocusing matrix metering, so you can leave the arty blurring to Instagram. Even the flash is getting an upgrade this time out. Apple’s offering up “True Tone,” which features 1,000 variations of color temperatures to help you get things like flesh tones just right.
And what about your shaky photographer hands? There’s image stabilization on-board, as well as burst mode. Hold the shutter button down and you can snap up to 10 frames a second, to get the perfect picture. You can grab one or more multiple images there, which should help those looking to get into the animated GIF business. Or you can just shoot the thing in slow motion at 120 frames a second. It’s not quite Nokia proportions, but Schiller showed off a panoramic shot during the demo that clocks in at 28-megapixels and lets you adjust the picture’s exposure as you’re taking it.
We know what you’re thinking: but what if somebody wants to steal my fancy new feature-filled phone? Good news, that left field fingerprint reader folks were predicting ahead of launch is on-board here. The phone features a 170-micro thick sensor with a 500 ppi resolution built into the home button that’ll biometrically let you into the phone. Apple calls it Touch ID, building the feature directly into the operating system. This means that you can use the feature to buy stuff of iTunes securely, assuming no one else has access to your fingertips. Oh, and if someone else wants to access your phone, you can also set the thing up to read multiple fingerprints. And before you ask, for extra security, all of that fingerprint information isn’t stored directly to Apple’s servers, because Apple apparently isn’t in the market of collecting that info.
So, when can we mere mortals actually get one? The handset is available for pre-order in three days. It’ll start hitting Apple stores on the 20th in the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK. In December, that list will expand to include more than 100 countries. Here in the States, meanwhile, it’ll start at $199 for the 16GB version, with 32- and 64GB models running $299 and $399, respectively. Oh, and in the off-chance that you’re not a fan of cracked screens, Apple’s also offering up proprietary cases that’ll run you $49 a pop.