A rainbow of new handsets from the Cupertino team
Apple’s 2013 keynote speech is now over and with it we have the official confirmation of 2 new devices; the iPhone 5s, an iteration of the current iPhone 5 and the much rumoured, leaked and finally outed iPhone 5c, a cheaper, less premium handset available in a range of colours.
Apple’s global smartphone marketshare has fallen in recent times, mostly due to the explosion of Android activations in developing nations as well as the highly populated India and China. The iPhone though has continued to remain a serious force to contend with in North America, Europe and elsewhere where the relative high cost is not officious and is often subsidised heavily by networks.
By now, the iterative design and release of successive iPhones has become normalised and yesterday showed us the most recent update to the range.
Side by side with the iPhone 5, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two phones. The size and shape is exactly the same, the only two things giving away the 5s are the colour schemes and the updated home button with fingerprint scanner (more on that later). A gold 5s has been doing the rounds on rumour/leak pages for several weeks now and it has been confirmed, alongside silver and gray models in contrast to the standard black and white of last year.
The home button has changed quite significantly and is now far less concave than previously. It is in fact almost completely flat and now features a fingerprint scanner for added lock screen security.
This comes as no surprise with the rumour mill churning for some time over the inclusion of this very feature. Apple acquired AuthenTec last year, a company prolific in the industrial fingerprint scanning world. AuthenTec products have been included in integrated systems for years and are well known for being both small in size and capturing high quality images.
With AuthenTec on board, Apple have included a sapphire top to the home screen. With this you will set up a fingerprint when first using the iPhone 5s and are then able to use the scanner to unlock the handset, replacing traditional passcodes and patterns. Apple are far from the first to use this, even on a smartphone (Motorola’s Atrix had the tech a few years ago), they will however be the first with such a huge installed user base. When the 5s launches, millions of average consumers around the world will be able to test out the technology.
The fingerprint scanner is also the precursor to Touch ID. A unique Apple ID is required for continued use of Apple’s services and with the 5s, this will now also be linked to a fingerprint. Touch ID is likely to be used in the future to verify iTunes purchases, in-app purchases and other features. It’s currently not open to iPhone app developers but that could change in the future.
As with every upgrade, an increase to general speed and performance must be included. Apple have moved their processor onto the A7, a complete in-house custom build, and is being touted as the first 64 bit mobile processor. The clock speed / cores of the processor were not featured although one is to assume they have increased significantly from the iPhone 5’s 1.3 GHz dual-core A6, especially if they are to compete on a graphical level with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragons.
Apple are staying out of the megapixel war with their new camera. Taking a leaf out of HTC’s book they have focussed on improving the pixel size to 1.5µ so improvements to low light imaging over the iPhone 5 should be obvious. This is slightly less than the the 2.0µ of the HTC One sensor, although with 8 megapixels the overall sensor size is larger. A dual LED flash has also been included, once again improving low light shooting.
Both Sony and Nokia have surged ahead in raw numbers recently with the 20 and 41 MP sensors on the Xperia Z1 and Lumia 1020 respectively. A shoot out between the 3 would be welcome in the coming weeks, although with the now huge variations in sensor size, pixel size, pixel count, lenses and processing techniques, straight comparisons are becoming very subjective and difficult to judge.