Emerging Technology

GADGET WATCH: iPhone 5s

Patrick Stafford /

Like clockwork, Apple has released a new iPhone in preparation for the holiday season.

But with Samsung eating up precious sales potential and Android the favourite operating system across the world, Apple is in a precarious position.

The iPhone 5s has a lot of new features and its most exciting – a fingerprint scanner – seems ripped out of science fiction. But does it live up to the hype?

While full reviews aren’t out yet, plenty of tech writers have been given early access to the device, and they have some thoughts of their own.

Hardware and features

The iPhone 5s is built exactly like the iPhone 5, with some changes, The Retina screen still measures 4 inches, with a native 1136×640 resolution.

Memory comes in three versions with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, while the device runs on the Apple-made A7 chip. The camera is an eight megapixel lens, capable of recording at 1080p with a dual-element flash.

The normal connectivity is included with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board, while the device also features a completely new addition – a fingerprint scanner.  

What’s the consensus?

Over at The Verge, the publication starts with the major difference – the home button. The button is now made of sapphire, so it can work as a fingerprint reader.

While the publication noted the button wasn’t “nearly as concave” as previous models, it still maintains a “nice, tactile feel”.

“We watched the fingerprint sensor unlock the phone quickly and easily (though we didn’t get to try it ourselves), but presumably these were ideal conditions with iPhones that were fully acclimated to their handlers.”

Engadget confirmed the hardware itself is similar to the iPhone 5 model, and also praised the fingerprint sensor saying it worked “flawlessly”.

“The only tedious part of the whole process was actually getting it set up in the first place.”

“Since the contours of your finger are three-dimensional, the phone asked us to place our fingers on the button several times and in several angles — sometimes we could lay our finger flat on it, while other times we were prompted to roll the finger to the left or right. Even then, it only took about a minute to get everything set.”

TechCrunch posted a video of its hands-on impressions, but also said the device was speedy, and “buttery smooth”. It also praised the new camera, saying the slow-motion features “works REALLY well [sic]”.

did do a really good job of catching us waving our hands around like dweebs at 120 frames per second.”

Finally, Slashgear also praised the fingerprint scanning, saying users could jump right into the homescreen without having to swipe or use a passcode.

“The sensor apparently works no matter what angle your finger or thumb is coming from, too, so even if you mash it awkwardly against the home button, you should get approval.”

Who’s it for?

It’s too early to tell whether the iPhone 5s will be a good buy, but the early hands-on impressions seem good so far. The fingerprint scanner in particular seems to be a serious piece of tech and not just a gimmick.

The real thing will be out next week, but if you’re thinking of upgrading from an iPhone 4, or even a 4S, this looks like a decent place to jump in.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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