Apple Announces iPhone 5s with ‘Touch ID’ Fingerprint Sensor

At its media event today, Apple introduced the new iPhone 5s. In line with expectations, the iPhone 5s will be the same size and design and the current iPhone 5 but will feature improved specifications and will be available in three colors: Silver, Gold, and Space Gray.

Internally, the iPhone 5s will feature a 64-bit A7 processor that will be up to twice as fast at CPU tasks. Another significant new feature is a “Touch ID” capacitive fingerprint sensor built into the home button that’s capable of scanning sub-epidermal skin layers. Touch ID can be used to unlock an iPhone and authorize iTunes purchases.

Built into the home button, Touch ID uses a laser cut sapphire crystal, together with the capacitive touch sensor, to take a high-resolution image of your fingerprint and intelligently analyze it to provide accurate readings from any angle. Setting up Touch ID to recognize your fingerprint is easy, and every time you use it, it gets better. The Touch ID sensor recognizes the touch of a finger so the sensor is only activated when needed, preserving battery life. All fingerprint information is encrypted and stored securely in the Secure Enclave inside the A7 chip on the iPhone 5s; it’s never stored on Apple servers or backed up to iCloud. Touch ID can also be used as a secure way to approve purchases from the iTunes Store®, App Store or iBooks Store.

iOS developers will not get access to the users’ fingerprint as a means of authentication, according to AllThingsD, which spoke to Apple SVP Phil Schiller. He declined to comment on whether that sort of access may come in the future.

touch_id_fingerThe rear camera in the iPhone 5s has a new 5-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture and a sensor that is 15% larger than the current iPhone 5, as well as a dual-LED “True Tone” flash that will adapt to the existing lighting to provide better colors and more accurate skin tones. Other new camera features include Burst Mode, capable of capturing 10 pictures per second and automatically selecting the best shot, and Slo-Mo 720p video capture at 120 frames per second.

The iPhone 5s will cost $199, $299, and $399 for the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB models respectively with a 2-year contract. Non-contract, unlocked devices will be available at launch for $649/$749/$849.

The iPhone 5s and the lower-cost iPhone 5c that was also announced today will be available in stores in the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the UK starting on September 20.

Notably, there will be no preorders for the iPhone 5s.

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