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iPhone 5s breaks the speed limit

Improvements to Apple's iPhone 5s include camera, processor, security settings and battery life. Its cousin, the less-expensive 5c, has fewer features, but comes in more colors than previous iPhone models.
BY GEORGE LANG glang@opubco.com Modified: September 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: September 23, 2013
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Friday's lines were long, but they came with a substantial payoff. The new iPhone 5s might look superficially like an iPhone 5, so Apple customers looking for something with a wider screen, the obvious look of a new, new thing or a cure for the common cold will be left wanting. But like any worthwhile piece of technology, the real value is inside the case.

As most people in the market for a new iPhone already know, the iPhone 5s comes in three colors: white, space gray and gold. The gold, which is actually a champagne color, is in artificially short supply — only 24 were shipped to Oklahoma. But inside its exoskeleton, this phone contains a significantly improved camera, processor, security settings and battery life. These are tools that will make a substantial difference for true “power users” — people who utilize their smartphones not just for play, but for work.

Straight out of the box, the iPhone 5s asks the user if he or she wants to use fingerprint security. Setting fingerprint recognition is done by tapping the control button, which now also acts as a fingerprint reader, about 10 times so that it can recognize your scrolling finger from all angles. After that, a fingerprint can be used to securely purchase apps, as well. Multiple users can have their fingerprints recorded, so family members can have their prints recorded, as well.

Better flash function

While the camera is still an 8 megapixel component, Apple has increased the size of the pixels and the sensor as well as flash function, so the image quality is markedly improved. What gives the camera a serious “wow” factor are three new functions: a “burst” mode that allows 10 shots per second (perfect for concerts and track events); a panorama mode for extreme widescreen shots, and a 120 frames-per-second slow motion option. Live sports fans will love that one.

Coupled with the aesthetic advances of iOS 7, which includes a streamlined graphic user interface, iPhone 5s moves fast. Like most users, I update phones once every two years when my commitment to my carrier is up for renewal, which means this iPhone 5s replaced a two-generations-old 4s. The speed difference on demanding functions like Netflix, Facebook and Spotify was definitely felt — everything opens fast and runs smoothly whether it is on Wi-Fi or LTE network. The new A7 processor is doing the heavy lifting on that front, moving roughly twice as fast as its predecessor, an improvement that will make a measurable difference for gaming apps.

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