The New iPhone 5S Impresses
Virtually all of the big changes are inside, but they point to a bright -- and speedy -- mobile future.
Tue, September 24, 2013
Computerworld — Like countless others on Friday morning, I braved long lines and lack of sleep to be among the first wave of buyers to get the latest iPhone from Apple. Specifically, I wanted an iPhone 5S, the new flagship model that starts at $199 (for a 16GB model with two-year contract).
I'd hoped for the white-and-silver model, but, like the new gold version, those were in short supply. So I wound up with a 64GB "space gray" iPhone 5S. Although it's virtually identical on the outside to the old iPhone 5 -- other than the lighter gray aluminum back and sides -- this phone represents a major update to the hardware. From the new A7 64-bit chip to the M7 coprocessor to updated camera and Touch ID, there's a lot to like in the 5S. No wonder it quickly sold out on Friday (and it's no surprise Apple The new iPhone 5S (in space gray) retains the minimalist design of the iPhone 5. (Image: Michael deAgonia)
I've always loved the minimalist appearance of the iPhone, especially the aluminum-and-glass design of the iPhones 4 and 5: a single button adorning the front, a minimal set of hardware buttons, and the sleek glass face framed by black (or white) trim housed in an aluminum frame with chamfered edges. I thought this was a slick design when it was first unveiled, and it remains so.
The space gray model in hand is the same size and weight as the iPhone 5, but with a lighter aluminum frame and back plate. The other noticeable difference is the sapphire crystal home button, which reflects light differently than the glass that surrounds it and lacks the 'squ-ircle' graphic found on earlier iPhones. This is the new Touch ID sensor, the fingerprint reader that, according to Apple, "defines the next step of how you use your iPhone, making something as important as security so effortless, so simple."
They're not wrong.
Touch ID is really handy
When rumors arose that the new iPhone might have a fingerprint sensor built in, I shrugged them off; I generally ignore Apple rumors because most of them are nonsense, but this one gained traction as the announcement date neared. Even then, I thought ... meh. Fingerprint sensors didn't excite me because I had yet to see one that worked quickly, and without hassle or error. I couldn't see how an iPhone could incorporate a fingerprint sensor with the technology used on other products.