Apple iPhone 5c, 5s, iOS 7 – First Look and Review

By Jonathan Spira on 18 September 2013
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Apple iOS 7's new home screen

Apple iOS 7’s new home screen

This is undoubtedly a very busy week for Apple.  It’s launching two new iPhones and iOS 7, its new mobile operating system.  While new iPhones always generate headlines, it’s the new mobile operating system, iOS 7, that’s truly worth of note.

First let’s look at the hardware.

The budget model, the iPhone 5C, comes in five colors and is very similar to the iPhone 5 introduced last year with the exception of its polycarbonate case.  Its back’s edges are curved to allow tactile differentiation between front and back without looking.  It’s priced at $549 for the 16-gigabyte model without a contract at T-Mobile and $99 with a two-year contract at AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless.

Then there’s the iPhone 5s, which rings it at $100 more than the 5c. It’s so close in many respects to the original iPhone 5 (7.6 mm deep, with a weight of 112 grams) that, were it not for the three new colors, silver, gold, and space grey, it would be hard to tell them apart.  The gold is surprisingly elegant (I was a bit taken aback when I first read that Apple planned a gold phone) and the space gray has black glass accents while the silver and gold have white accents. The unlocked and contract-free iPhone 5s costs $649, $749, and $849 for 16-, 32-, and 64-gigabyte models respectively.

Inside, the 5s has a 64-bit chip that Apple says is twice as fast as the iPhone 5’s.  The chip makes graphics in 3-D video games look particularly smooth and vivid.  To make the phone even faster, Apple is using a second processor that is task specific.  It tracks motion data from the phone’s compass, gyroscope, and tilt sensor.  According to Apple, this chip will ensure longer battery life, citing the example of fitness apps, where the auxiliary chip will do the monitoring and allow the A7 chip, which uses six times the amount of power, to sleep.

Main Settings screen

Main Settings screen

A welcome change is the improved, built-in camera, with a sensor that is 15% bigger along with individual light-detecting pixels that are also bigger.  Photos are simply better, especially those taken in low light.  The new flash system, which uses two LEDs, one pure white and one amber, that fire simultaneously improves skin tone and color balance dramatically.  Apple boasts that this is the first implementation of such a dual-LED system in either a phone or camera.

Perhaps the most visible difference from the iPhone 5 to the 5s is the fingerprint reader that is built into the Home button.  Having (prior to my Mac days) used a ThinkPad with a similar sensor, I always wondered why no one had done this with a phone.  Apple makes it easy. Simply touch the Home button to awaken the device and hold your finger there momentarily and voilà, you’ve unlocked the device.  Since many users consider entering a password to be a hassle, hopefully this feature will get the 50% of all smartphone users who don’t password-protect their devices to do so.

Now here comes the big news.

Click here to continue to Page 2Apple iOS 7, Security, and Fun New Features

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