Apple iPhone 5s Hands-On: Fast Fingerprint Sensor, Improved Camera

At first glance, the iPhone 5s looks almost the same as the iPhone 5, but under the hood, there are many differences.We went hands-on with the new iPhone 5s to check out its new features.

At 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches and 3.95 ounces, the $199 iPhone 5s (16GB) is identical in size and weight to the iPhone 5, and is just as easy to hold in one hand. The biggest difference you’ll see is the lack of a white square on the Home button; that’s because the button now conceals a fingerprint sensor that can be used to unlock the phone, as well as make iTunes purchases.

MORE: iPhone 5s and 5c: Full Coverage

iphone 5s fingerprint reader

Under the hood, new owners will appreciate Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip, which promises to deliver two times faster CPU and graphics performance. Plus it’s got a built-in M7 processor just for tracking your motions. We can’t wait to get an iPhone 5s into our lab to run our suite of performance tests. 

Setting up the fingerprint sensor was easy; tap your finger on the sensor a number of times until it registers the various details of your fingerprint. You can also enter several different fingers. After, opening the phone by holding our finger on the sensor took less than a second; it’s certainly faster than entering a four-digit code. You can also use your fingerprint to make iTunes purchases. Hopefully, this security feature will be extended to other things, such as logging into websites. 

MORE: How Secure is the New iPhone’s Fingerprint Security?

On the back, a dual LED flash enables more even lighting when taking photos in dark conditions, and the new burst mode in the camera app was fun to use. Press and hold on the shutter button, and it fires off up to 10 shots per second (a little counter appears above the button, showing how many shots you’ve taken). Cleverly, after you’re done shooting, the Photo app will show you what it thinks is the best picture from all those you shot; you can then scroll through all the photos using a slider just beneath. 

The 4-inch display is also the same as the previous generation — 4 inches and 1136 x 640-pixels, with a rated brightness of 500 nits. Still, iOS 7 icons were bright and colorful on the display. 

The iPhone 5s will be offered in three colors, silver, gold, and a new space gray color, the latter of which is not all that different from the black iPhone 5. We suspect that the gold version, which has a white front, will prove popular. 


 The iPhone 5s will be available on Sept. 20 for $199 at 16GB (with 32GB and 64GB version priced at $299 and $399, respectively). Stay tuned for our full review.

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