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It's that time of year again and Apple's in the usual record-breaking mood at the box-office. This is an S year in the Cupertino calendar but different enough - it may be that two phones instead of one account for almost double last year's record sales. We can only guess as to which one contributed how, but this is hardly the point. We have the latest flagship reporting for duty and it will be both the main course and the desert, considering the 5c didn't quite impress as an appetizer.
As with every "S" version of the iPhone the changes are subtle but not illusory. There's no new design obviously, no bigger screen or a bump in resolution - nothing to go against the conservative grain of how Apple typically delivers iPhone upgrades every other year. That said, it's not this phone's fault that the iPhone 5 wasn't the full-digit upgrade everyone was hoping for.
As usual with Apple - we need to give it that - a certain set of users just can't wait to get the next big thing. Others, though, won't just get rid of the iPhone 5 unless the newcomer is convincing enough. An iPhone may fail to meet the (usually over-inflated) expectations but it has never been a product to be displeased with.
The new OS version may be a decider as well, if more people share our experience and feel the slowdown on an iPhone 5 running iOS 7, but the rest of the new stuff may as well be just enough to tip the scales in favor of the iPhone 5s.
The iPhone 5s
The first thing that makes a tangible difference is Touch ID, with a fingerprint scanner having made the iconic Home button its residence. The camera has a bigger sensor and dual LED flash, and gladly takes advantage of what's probably the most notable improvement - the 64-bit A7 chip. The iOS enters its 64-bit stage in its seventh iteration, well ahead of the competition. What this means is better memory management and more complex tasks and apps ahead. This could as well be the first step to bringing the iOS closer to Apple's dedicated desktop OS X - an early message that both platforms are due for a rendezvous eventually.
Quad-band GSM and quad-band or penta-band 3G support with 21 Mbps HSDPA, 42 Mbps DC-HSDPA and 5.76 Mbps HSUPA
LTE support on all models and CDMA support when sold by CDMA carriers
4" 16M-color LED-backlit IPS TFT capacitive touchscreen of 640 x 1136px resolution, 326 ppi
1.3 GHz dual-core ARMv8 64-bit CPU, PowerVR G6430 GPU, 1GB of RAM, Apple A7 SoC
iOS 7 and iCloud integration
8 MP autofocus camera, 1/3'' sensor size, 1.5Âµm pixel size, True Tone dual-LED flash, touch focus, digital image stabilization
1080p video recording at 30fps, 720p@120fps slow motion videos
1.2MP secondary front-facing camera, 720p video recording
Touch ID fingerprint scanner embedded into home button
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
GPS with A-GPS connectivity, GLONASS support; digital compass
16/32/64GB storage options
Accelerometer, proximity sensor and a three-axis gyro sensor
Active noise cancellation with a dedicated secondary microphone, dedicated third microphone for Siri
Standard 3.5 mm audio jack, stereo Bluetooth v4.0
Apple Maps with free voice-guided navigation in 50-odd countries
AirDrop file transfer
Voice recognition, Siri virtual assistant
Supports HD Voice (needs carrier support too)
FaceTime video calls over Wi-
i and cellular
Impressively slim and light
Screen feels small by 2013 standards
Very expensive without carrier subsidies
TouchID is greatly underused
No USB Mass Storage mode, iTunes required for data transfer
No FM radio
No expandable storage, sealed-in battery
No NFC connectivity
1080p@30fps video recording is low by current flagship status
Mono audio recording in videos
The iPhone 5s pushes the major re-design another year back - but this is something we can live with. After all, the styling of the iPhone is still relevant - to say the least. Digging a little deeper reveals that Apple has taken good care of bringing many major facets of performance to a new level on its latest flagship. The processor, the camera, Touch ID, video recording and still imagery, low light performance, and naturally, the look and feel of iOS 7.