Apple announces iPhone 5S, adds in fingerprint scanner

In addition to the cheaper iPhone 5C, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced a new flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5S, that includes an improved camera, a new motion sensor and a fingerprint scanner.

iphone 5c

iPhone 5S

Apple said the iPhone 5S will start at $199 for the 16 GB model, $299 for the 32 GB model and $399 for the 64 GB model, all with a two-year contract. Some overseers had been expecting a 128 GB model, which Apple did not announce. Apple also said it will make the iPhone 4S free on a two-year contract, and is retiring the iPhone 5, which it announced last year.

Apple said customers can pre-order the new phones starting Sept. 13, with sales starting Sept. 20 in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom. This is the first time Apple will launch a new iPhone model in China and the United States at the same time, underscoring the importance of the Chinese market for Apple. Apple is reportedly close to signing a deal with China Mobile, which has 740 million customers, to sell the iPhone. Apple indicated NTT DoCoMo in Japan, that country's largest carrier, will start selling its new iPhones. Apple said the phones will be available in 100 countries and 270 carriers by the end of the year.

One of the most notable new features on the iPhone 5S is a fingerprint scanner built into the new phone's home button. The feature, which Apple calls Touch ID, scans a user's sub-epidermal skin layers and can read any orientation of the finger, according to Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. The sensor can scan fingerprints at 500 pixels per inch, Schiller said. Schiller also said users can simply touch the iPhone 5S' home button to unlock the phone and make iTunes purchases. For those concerned about the privacy implications of such a service, Apple promised that other apps will not get access to the fingerprints nor is the data stored on Apple's servers.

The offering stems from Apple's acquisition of digital security firm AuthenTec for $356 million in mid-2012. AuthenTec offered encryption technology, fingerprint sensors, identity management software and Near Field Communications services integrated into a range of portable electronics products, fueling speculation Apple would incorporate biometric technology into future hardware releases.

The iPhone 5S runs on Apple's new A7 processor, a 64-bit chipset. Apple said the chip will allow the phone to run more quickly, giving it the computing power of low-end desktop computers. The iPhone 5S will still run older, 32-bit apps, according to Schiller.

According to an AllThingsD live blog, Schiller promised the transition to 64-big computing will be easy for iOS developers and will deliver up to twice the performance and graphics processing of the iPhone 5. He also said the iPhone 5S is 40 times faster than the first iPhone. Schiller also said the A7 runs latest graphics standard, OpenGL EL, for console-level graphics.

Apple's new iPhone 5S also comes with a "motion co-processor," called the M7, which Schiller said continuously measures motion data using the phone's gyroscope, accelerometer and compass to enable new health and fitness apps. The processor will be able to tell if users are stationary, walking, running or driving.

Schiller claimed the iPhone 5S' battery will support 3G talk times of 10 hours and 10 hours of LTE browsing.

The iPhone 5S also has an improved camera with a 15 percent larger sensor area and technology that, like HTC's UltraPixel camera for the HTC One, packs more pixels into photos for sharper images. The camera takes multiple photos and picks the best one, Schiller said. The camera also has a new, dual-LED flash for more natural-looking images. Apple is also is adding automatic image stabilization to the camera.

Apple's iPhone 5S will be available in black, silver and, for the first time, gold metal casing.

For more:
- see this The Verge live blog
- see this AllThingsD live blog

Special Report: Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C: Complete coverage

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