TECH

iPhone 5s Release: Apple Announces Its New Flagship Phone

It's finally here!

Apple announced its new iPhone, the iPhone 5s, during an event at its Cupertino, California headquarters on Tuesday.

The iPhone 5s will be the same size as its predecessor, the iPhone 5, with a 4-inch screen. Big screens are all the rage these days, and Apple is rumored to be working on phones with larger screens, but physically, the iPhone 5s looks very similar to last year's model.

The phone includes Apple's new A7 64-bit chip, and Apple describes the 5s as "the first 64-bit smartphone in the world." Phil Schiller, the company's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said that the device's CPU and graphics are twice as fast as the iPhone 5. The chip also packs a series of other performance and graphics enhancements. In addition to the A7, the phone includes the M7 motion coprocessor. The M7 "continuously measures motion data" from the phone's accelerometer, gyroscope and compass.

But the big new feature on the 5s is the built-in fingerprint sensor. Touch ID, as Apple calls it, is part of the device's home button. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the long-rumored feature would make its way into Apple's flagship device. Touch ID can be used to unlock the iPhone 5s merely by touching the sensor, and can also be used for other purposes, such as authenticating iTunes purchases.

For those concerned about security, Apple claims the stored fingerprints are encrypted and stored inside a "secure enclave" in the A7 chip. The fingerprint data is "never available to other software, and it's never stored on Apple's servers or backed up to iCloud."

The fingerprint system's hardware consists of a tactile switch, a Touch ID sensor, a stainless steel detection ring, and a laser-cut sapphire crystal to prevent scratching.

The 5s will ship with the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 7. This latest iOS is notable for its abandonment of the company's traditional "skeumorphic" design, which often utilized digital illustrations of real-life objects. The new operating system relies on a brand new "flat" user interface, giving the iPhone its first major visual overhaul since the device launched in 2007. The software has been re-engineered for the iPhone 5s's 64-bit processor.

The device will come in three colors: gold, silver, and space gray.

The camera on the 5s is an improvement over the iPhone 5 as well. It includes a new Apple-designed lens and has a "15% larger active sensor area." The flash on the new phone has two LEDs which work together to improve photographic quality in a system Apple has dubbed True Tone Flash. iOS 7 has been designed with multiple enhancements to take advantage of the improved optics. The camera has a series of other technical enhancements, including the ability to shoot 120 fps slow-motion video.

In terms of battery life, the 5s boasts 10 hours of 3G talk time, 8 hours of 3G browsing, 10 hours of LTE browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of video playback, 40 hours of music playback, and 250 hours of standby time.

The phone will be priced based around two-year contracts: $199 for a 16GB model, $299 for a 32GB model, and $399 for a 64GB model. The iPhone 5s will be available to order on September 20th.

Apple also announced color cases for the iPhone 5s which will be priced at $39 a piece.

The iPhone 5s was announced alongside the lower-cost iPhone 5c. Together these models will replace the iPhone 5 in Apple's lineup. The company will continue offering the iPhone 4S as well, with an 8GB model available for free with a two-year contract.

More news from Apple's big event:
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