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Apple unveils powerful iPhone 5s and entry-level 5c

Lex Friedman | Sept. 11, 2013
The iPhone 5s gets beefed up with faster guts and fingerprint scanning, while the 5c is fantastic with plastic and rainbow colors.

Apple on Tuesday unveiled two new iPhones: the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5C. "iPhone 5 was instantly the most-loved iPhone ever, and it had the most successful first year of any iPhone we've ever done," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

"The business has become so large that this year we're going to replace the iPhone 5...and we're gonna replace it with not one, but two new designs." These include the powerful iPhone 5s and the colorful iPhone 5c.

The iPhone 5s
 iPhone 5S
Apple's Phil Schiller introduces the Phone 5s.

"The most forward-thinking phone we've ever created," Schiller said of the new iPhone 5s (shown at top). The iPhone 5s comes in three metal finishes: silver, gold, and something called "space gray." It's made of high-grade aluminum, with chamfered edges.

Schiller said that the iPhone 5s offers great, unparalleled performance, calling it a "huge leap forward." The phone uses the 64-bit A7 system-on-a-chip processor from Apple, and it's the first and only smartphone to use a 64-bit processor.

Apple says the A7 chip uses desktop-class architecture, with a modern instruction set and over a billion transistors—and it's the same size as the A6.

iOS 7 already supports a native 64-bit kernel, Schiller said. All the built-in apps from Apple already have been reengineered for 64-bit, and it will be easy for third-party developers to compile their apps for the iPhone 5s as well.

"The benefits are huge," Schiller said. The A7 is up to twice as fast at CPU and graphics tasks, he said. The iPhone 5s offers 40 times the performance of the original iPhone—with half of that improvement just coming since the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5s and Touch ID
The iPhone 5s also comes with a nifty new security feature: A fingerprint scanner built right into the Home button. That sensor can read fingerprints with incredible detail, and even supports multiple fingers. Support for that scanner in iOS 7 means you may never need to tap in your passcode again.

iPhone 5S
IMAGE: APPLE. The iPhone 5s in gold.

"Unfortunately, some people find that's too cumbersome, so they don't set it up," Schiller said. And even if you set up a passcode, you need to enter it many times per day.

Touch ID uses your fingerprint to gain access to your phone. It does this by reading the fingerprint at an incredibly detailed level using the Touch ID sensor. Touch ID scans sub-epidermal skin layers with 360 degrees of readability—meaning you can hold your finger in any orientation.

The sensor lives beneath the Home button on the iPhone 5s. That button is still tactile, but includes a stainless steel detection ring and the Touch ID sensor, with a laser-cut sapphire crystal on top. Touch ID is built deep into iOS 7, Schiller said.


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