Apple iPhone 5S: The first 64-bit smartphone, Touch ID fingerprint scanner
Apple has unveiled the iPhone 5S, which introduces the new A7 SoC — the first 64-bit smartphone processor, thus making the iPhone 5S the first 64-bit smartphone. Exact details are still scarce, but Apple says the A7 is “twice as fast” as the A6 in the iPhone 5, both in terms of CPU and GPU performance. As expected, the iPhone 5S includes a fingerprint scanner that’s built into the Home button, called Touch ID. The pricing is $200/$300/$300 (16/32/64GB), on-contract. It will be available to pre-order on September 13, and will arrive in stores and on your doorstep on September 20.
Touch ID can read your fingerprint in any orientation, scans at 500 dpi, and scans your sub-epidermal skin layers (no word on what underlying scanning technology they’re using to achieve this, though). Touch ID can be used to unlock your iPhone 5S, and also to access your keychain — to log into iTunes, for example. From the demo video, the sensor is pretty quick at identifying your fingerprint. As you can see, the inclusion of the sensor also means that the Home button is now flat, rather than concave — whether this will affect the ergonomics of the button or not, we’ll have to wait and see.
The CPU is presumably a 64-bit version of the Swift core used in the A6 SoC. Apple has updated all of the iOS libraries/kernel/etc. to 64-bit, and developers can create 64-bit apps using Xcode. Just as when PCs moved to x86-64 with CPUs that can function in both 32- and 64-bit modes, the A7 retains its 32-bit functionality — and just as with PCs, I expect most smartphone apps will be 32-bit for the foreseeable future. 64-bit iOS 7 is cool, though.
The GPU supports OpenGL ES 3.0, which according to the developer of Infinity Blade 3, allows the iPhone 5S to run the game five times faster than the iPhone 5.
Curiously, Apple has also designed its own “motion coprocessor” for the iPhone 5S, called the M7. The M7 contains the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass, thus replacing the third-party components that Apple previously relied on. Presumably the M7 was designed by the same in-house chip design team that made the A6 and now the A7.
The camera unit has also been significantly updated, with an “Apple-designed” f/2.2 lens, and a sensor with 15% larger (1.5-micron) pixels. Image stabilization, 10 fps burst, and a fancy dual-LED flash that provides more realistic illumination, are also included. The camera is the same 8 megapixels as the iPhone 5, but the sensor is physically larger.
The iPhone 5S will have 10 hours of 3G talk time, 10 hours of LTE browsing.
We’ll have more information about the iPhone 5S after we get some hands-on time.
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