By Vic Wukovits
It’s that time of year again, and on Sept. 20, Apple released the latest iPhone to the world. This year, we got a little something different, as two different models were released: the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c. The successor to the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5s is the next iteration showcasing a few new features. The iPhone 5c is a new “sidegrade,” replacing the iPhone 5 in the line-up. The iPhone 5 will no longer be sold, but the iPhone 4s will still be available. Confused yet?
While Apple took some heat, with critics panning these new devices as less-than-stellar updates, sales hit new records on release day, and over the weekend. Apple sold over 9 million units in three days, making their stock prices rebound after an initial slump.
While the innovations might not be the stellar leaps people expected, there are some new features that these devices bring to the table.
I opted to update to an iPhone 5s, which is now available in three colors: gold, silver and “space gray.” While I had wanted a gold model, the local Verizon store received no stock; it seems that there is a temporary shortage on this color, with auctions on eBay selling the gold iPhone 5s for astoundingly ridiculous prices. I saw one such auction top $10,000.
With my new “space gray” model in hand, I proceeded to dive into the most noticeable new feature: the fingerprint scanning home button. Once configured, this new security measure allows you to use your thumb (or any other finger) to unlock your iPhone 5s. It can also be used for iTunes and App Store purchases. Configuration is simple, and this feature works as advertised. I use this to unlock my device every time. I even find myself trying to unlock my iPad with my thumb and chuckle.
Of course, hackers were quick to find a way to circumvent this type of security measure, but the procedure is by no means simple or readily available, so security-conscious folks shouldn’t naysay this new feature.
Another upgrade to the iPhone 5s is the A7 processor, the first 64-bit chip in a mobile device. While initial speculation wasn’t positive, real-world testing has revealed performance increases of double to triple that of the iPhone 5. This also improves battery life on the iPhone 5s, one of the most beleaguered issues with the older model.
The camera is another area of improvement, but rather than an increase in megapixels, the iPhone 5s has a larger sensor, which will greatly improve low-light pictures. The flash is now a dual-LED, which provides more realistic lighting. Another enhancement is auto image stabilization that utilizes a compositing method for the best image possible. For video, the camera can now record at 120 frames-per-second, allowing for slow motion video captures at 720p, a feat that most DSLRs can’t accomplish.
Replacing the iPhone 5 is the iPhone 5c, which is essentially the same phone albeit with a plastic back, available in white, yellow, pink, blue and green. Apple has introduced this device at a lower price point to increase their market share, and the bright colors should attract a younger audience. Currently, the iPhone 5s is outselling the iPhone 5s by a margin of 3 to 1, but only time will tell how this “little brother” will fare in the long run.
Both devices ship with iOS 7, the latest version of the mobile operating system. This update brings quite a few changes and I’ll dive in and take a closer look in my next column.