Apple’s iPhone 5s is a major improvement over the iPhone 5, packing some changes to the hardware beyond the usual spec and performance improvements we see from “s” advances on iPhone. The big splashy focus features here are the improved camera and the brand new fingerprint sensor built into the Home button, which powers Apple’s new identification tech called Touch ID.
Both of these features were what I focused on with my hands-on time with the new phone. An Apple employee walked me through how to set up the phone for Touch ID, and how to use that to unlock the device and make purchases in the App and iTunes Stores. Each iPhone 5s can support up to five different fingerprints, making it possible for a user to authorize their family and friends to be able to use their device, too.
The setup process with the iPhone 5s is fairly straightforward, with graphics and text-based instructions to guide you through. Essentially you spend some time letting the sensors in the Home button get used to your fingerprint, moving your finger around slightly, lifting it up just above the surface and putting it back down, with a graphic filling out how near the software is to being able to recognize your fingerprint (you can use thumb or index finger, depending on your preference). The process took about 30 seconds to a minute overall, and then once it had successfully identified by fingerprint, it worked flawlessly to unlock the device for every subsequent trial. It also readily rejected Greg Kumparak’s attempts, proving that it isn’t just accepting all comers.
Apple’s new home button is not only very impressive in practice – it looks good too, with the stainless steel ring adding considerably to the device’s aesthetics. The new colors look good, too; ‘space grey’ replaces black and looks more like a graphite or a steel, and the gold color, which I wasn’t expecting to like, is actually pretty easy on the eyes in person.
The other big addition with the iPhone 5s, besides the 64-bit processor which really did seem to help software generally move along at a much faster clip, is the camera hardware. Apple’s new camera in the 5s is very advanced, and is paired with improved software, too. The new slo-mo video mode is stunning, and images in the camera do a very good job of besting what was already still likely the best mobile camera in the business for all-around performance. The new dual flash works well, filling out sub par lighting with much more natural-looking light effects. The camera is also ready to shoot faster than ever before, making it much easier to capture the action after app launch.
It’s not very surprising that Apple has delivered a new iPhone that seems at first glance to be among the best smartphones in the business, if not definitely the new overall king. But what is surprising is that something like a built-in fingerprint scanner can make such a difference to overall device experience – I think adoption of this will definitely be much faster than you might expect.
Hands-On Video With The iPhone 5s and 5c: