An update to the iPhone 5 was announced today, and as expected it has been named the iPhone 5S. Similar to the iPhone 3GS and 4S, the new phone has a near identical chassis to its predecessor, with a few minor changes.
The biggest change is on the front – there is a new ‘Touch ID’ sensor which supersedes the old home button on the iPhone 5. This has a fingerprint sensor which can be used in place of a passcode to unlock the phone, and also to authenticate App Store and iTunes Store purchases. On the back there is a new dual-LED flash which can compensate for different white balances.
The new phone comes in three colours: ‘Space Grey’ (which replaces the smart black option), white and silver, and a brand new white and champagne gold.
Inside there’s a new A7 64-bit processor, and a new motion co-processor. The camera aperture has been increased, and a new slo-mo 120fps capability has been added.
The biggest surprise of the day is that the iPhone 5 is being discontinued after just one year. Previously, the last generation phone becomes the budget option as stocks are gently run down. This year, the iPhone 5 has been given a funky or cheap (depending on one’s opinion) plastic case and is being marketed as the iPhone 5C. The hardware is almost identical to the iPhone 5.
There’s no doubt the iPhone 5S will be a commercial success. It’s a significant upgrade from the iPhone 4 and 4s. iPhone 5 users, however, will be disappointed but then in turn relieved their phone is not obsolete. There’s not really a ‘killer feature’ on the iPhone 5S. The camera’s been improved, but it’s hard to tell the difference in practice. The processor’s been improved, but there’s no increase from the 1GB RAM found in the iPhone 5. Touch ID is an interesting feature, but it doesn’t (yet) add anything which can’t be replicated by entering a password.
Now the wait for the iPhone 6 begins…