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The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: What you need to know

Macworld staff | Sept. 12, 2013
While waiting for the new phones to know everything about them, here are some information about them that we have collated.

The $29 iPhone 5c case, available in the same five colors as the phone plus a black version, is made of silicone with a microfiber interior lining and sports a pattern of 35 circular holes on the back that let your iPhone's own color peek through. You can match your phone to the case or opt for something a bit more interesting like, say, a white phone with a blue case.

The $39 iPhone 5s case is made of leather with a microfiber interior and is available in brown, beige, black, yellow, blue, and Product(Red) red. The case is molded over the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons, with openings for the Ring/Silent switch and back camera and flash.

The iPhone 5s

What's this about a new processor and a coprocessor?
The A7 inside the new iPhone 5s is unquestionably the most powerful chip Apple has ever put in a mobile device. It's also the first one that uses a 64-bit architecture—usually found only on laptop and desktop computers. The implications of that architecture might not be immediately apparent, because apps have to be written to take advantage of it. But down the road, the new chip will offer some exciting possibilities for expansion and power.

The A7's support for the latest OpenGL ES 3.0 standard means better graphics performance, too. In fact, Apple claims that the new A7 processor is twice as fast at both processor-intensive and graphics-intensive tasks as its predecessor. We'll see about that when we test the 5s.

The iPhone 5s also includes a separate processor, called the M7, that handles sensor data.

What's this M7 thing good for?
The M7—which Apple calls the motion coprocessor—is a brand-new chip inside the iPhone 5s that complements the A7 by handling data from the device's many sensors, including the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. Why a separate processor for all that? The key to the M7 is that it can log data from those sources without waking the full A7 processor. This means that not only can fitness-tracking apps more easily run in the background, but they'll also chew up less of your precious battery power. And using the new CoreMotion API, third-party apps can use real-time location and motion information--like, say, whether you're walking or riding in a car--to determine how the app behaves, without dramatically affecting battery life.

Is the iPhone 5s camera really that much better?
We haven't yet tested the back camera on the 5s; we'll give it a thorough evaluation once we get a couple iPhone 5s samples in-house. But if Apple's specs and feature list are any indication, that camera should offer noticeably better performance, along with some useful new capabilities.


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