Apple's iPhone 5s: 64-bit A7 chip, with Touch ID fingerprint sensor


September 10, 2013

Today Apple pulled back the curtain on the new flagship iPhone 5S

Today Apple pulled back the curtain on the new flagship iPhone 5S

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If you were hoping Apple would break from tradition with its latest iPhone, well, today wasn't your lucky day. As expected, the company stuck with its "S-phone every other year" pattern, and pulled back the curtain on the iPhone 5s. Like previous S-series entries, the iPhone 5s looks almost exactly like its predecessor, only with a few upgrades thrown in. Here the big star of the show is the long-anticipated biometric fingerprint sensor, which Apple branded as Touch ID.

Touch ID

Touch ID lets you use your fingerprint to unlock your iPhone 5s. Layered into the home button (which is now covered in sapphire, with a stainless steel ring around it), you just press your thumb there briefly, and your phone will lower its virtual drawbridge and let you in. Anyone without your fingerprint will be out of luck. It's a very nice blend of security and convenience.

You can also use Touch ID to make iTunes purchases (no other payments appear to be supported yet).

Performance, camera, gold

Touch ID may be the iPhone 5s' marquee attraction, but it isn't the only upgrade. The new iPhone also gets a speed boost, courtesy of Apple's new A7 system-on-a-chip. It's still dual core, but is now 64-bit, the first of its kind in a smartphone. iOS 7 has also been updated to run both 32-bit and 64-bit apps. According to Apple, the A7's processor and graphics are both twice as fast as those on the iPhone 5. Epic Games demoed Infinity Blade 3 (apparently the last of the trilogy) to help show off the new chip's graphics.

Apple also added a separate chip dedicated to motion-tracking sensors, called the M7. The company says the new chip will measure whether you're exercising, walking, or driving. It will supposedly open the doors to a new generation of fitness apps. Third-party apps will be able to access the M7's sensor data.

The iPhone 5s also has a superior camera to last year's model. It's still 8 megapixels, but – like the HTC One – those pixels are now bigger. "Bigger pixels make better pictures," said Apple's Phil Schiller. The camera also adds auto white balance and auto exposure levels, and has a new flash that Apple dubs "True Tone," which aims to balance color tones. The 5s' camera picks up some digital image stabilization too.

The camera also now uses burst mode to take a series of shots, and iOS automatically chooses the sharpest one to use. It also records video in slow-motion, at 120 frames per second.

Apple didn't ignore the cosmetic either. Though the 5s looks mostly like the iPhone 5, it's also available in a couple of new colors. A well-leaked gold iPhone 5s joins the familiar white model. It also looks like "Space gray" is a new variation on last year's "black and slate" in the iPhone lineup.

Release date, pricing

Some companies like to unveil new products in dramatic fashion, only to leave pricing and release date hanging in the air, to be determined at a later date. Not Apple. The iPhone 5s releases on September 20. As of now, it doesn't look like there will be pre-orders available ahead of time. It will be priced at US$200 (for the 16 GB model), with a new two-year contract.

Source: Apple

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

I see no real incentive to update yet i will be hanging onto my iPhone 5 at least until the 6

Bruce Mawby

What a waste I'll rather keep my iPhone 5 and wait for the 6xl.

Angel Mckenney

Upgrading to a 5S if you have a 5 would be a waste. The Apple upgrade model has always been for those with non s to upgrade to the next non S, and those with S to the next S. ie 3 to 4 to 5 to "6" and 3S to 4S to 5S to "6S". Personally I've always been a fan of the S iterations as they seem to have ironed out kinks in each new model by then and I feel less like a beta tester, or at least Im buying aware of the issue.

Robert Smithers

guess it could be a good time upgrade my old 16Gb iPhone3 then, due for renewal in January. I quite like the sound of this new one, never bothered with upgrades before.

Suzanne Bradley

Yea, I'm sticking by my 3gs for now as well.

Morten Nørgaard

I am checking out other options now. Even though I have 3 iPads, Apple TV, an iMac and owned iphones for 5 years now, I really want a different phone: bigger screen, better, fresher design, nfc... I must say I am disappointed that Apple has not made any design- or usability breakthrouhgs in the last years with the iphone. I never felt that my iphone was slow, so I wouldn't know what I need a new processor for.

Thomas Bollinger

Strange - Apple clearly saw the potential & demand to offer different screen sizes for their ipads, but for some reason they can't see the obvious demand for different screen sizes in their phones. Apple should be creating a smaller, more portable phone whilst competing with Samsung in the slightly larger screen smartphone arena.

I mean Im really struggling to finger pinch those zombies in Plants vrs zombies 2 at the moment....!


Apple has announced that developers will not get access to the touch id sensor atleast for now. Read more below.

This is sad as access to touch id sensor to lead to several security apps upgradation like for banking, files, folders, fpt, office clients and more.

Gaurav Bidasaria

I don't get it. Exactly why does anyone really need their cell phone to collect finger prints of anyone who handles it, record all activity for who know who and record precise 24 hour location, when all you want is a cell phone to make calls?


offthegrid - if all you want is a cellphone to make phone calls, you have plenty of options besides a shiny new iPhone.

Regarding the fingerprint sensor being "open" for developers and apps, Apple didn't have a choice but to keep it sandboxed. With the revelations of NSA hands reaching out for all sorts of questionable data, I don't want my fingerprints readily available. No real reason why except I already feel my privacy has been compromised. Sandboxing the sensor is a small pony show for Apple to put on for us that is basically saying, "See? We aren't totally coalescing to the NSA. Your privacy is safe with us."

The need for the sensor comes from the fact that the iPhone is the number one stolen electronic device world-wide. They'll still get stolen, but with this lock in place, and if there is good support underneath (such as bricking a stolen phone), then the numbers will fall off dramatically and quickly.

It may not be true in every market, but to implement a fingerprint sensor in the US market at this point, Apple has no other viable option but to keep it locked up. Their sales numbers here would certainly be substantially lower otherwise.

Vince Pack

I don't get that they think seconds aren't important for us.

Seems to me that by now they should be outputting the NBS standard time to the second.

Ben Franklin supposedly invented the sweep second hand and now some guy determines that 240 years later, it's not important??

It is.

And the Calendar... it's terrible, so backward and horrible.

But Jony Ives new rules for design will definitely make these phones look top of the class. Ignore them at your peril. He wants them to look somewhat like Google's classic, simple designs.

Looking at the screen with all the new icons definitely will make the iPhone look top of the class.

Lewis Dickens

I am still happy with my 4. It's over three years old now. Wake me when there is something REALLY interesting...

(although I suspect they'll break tradition and release the 6 in 6-8 months)


When will we get wireless charging. I keep hearing about it. I wish we had it with 5s.

Steven Baker

@jpar Next year for bigger phones if the rumours are true.

@steven baker Yes I saw the ~2meter wireless charging patent a while ago, I wonder if it will be next year as their marque feature.

Inappropriate Response

Kinda want the fingerprint scanner as phone security...but my prints are on file anyway...anybody with any kind of semi-secure job (lawyer, bank teller or above, etc) lives with that kind of privacy breach anyway. My concern is how the waterproof cases are going to interact with the sensor. Would be nice if apple made its phones inherently waterproof and fully wireless. Data already is, charging is next.

Bryan Paschke

There has to be an additional way to unlock the phone or a way to quickly change the fingerprint ID. In an emergency one can't loan the phone out. In the event of an accident to the stored fingerprint digit you are at a loss when you need it most.

I do not store any kind of data on the phone that can be misused by a thief. I don't lock the phone either.


Vince Pack -

No the thefts will not go down. Like the lead lines pouches for photographic films the thieves will now carry bags with Faraday Cage lining to shield it. They WILL figure out how to remove the battery and circumvent the fingerprint security.

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