The iPhone 5S, Apple’s seventh iPhone, will be announced at a special event on 10th September, according to AllThingsD.
The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple has given his definitive ‘Yep’ to the date and an early September launch certainly ties in with the pace of development we’re seeing with iOS 7 – Apple’s next mobile operating system that the iPhone 5S is likely to run on from day one – leaving it all but confirmed.
With less than a month to go until the iPhone 5S’ rumoured launch date, here’s our guide to what you can expect from Apple’s next iPhone.
Fingerprint sensor and NFC
When early rumours of Apple’s iPhone 5S began back in November 2012, details were sketchy at best, with some estimating the phone would be launched in May, June or July. With the dates already looking unlikely, the idea that the iPhone 5S could contain NFC or a fingerprint sensor seemed completely unlikely. Thanks to a recent code discovery inside Apple’s iOS 7 developer beta, though, the idea that Apple could include a fingerprint sensor appears to ring true.
Adding a fingerprint sensor to the iPhone 5S would give the device that additional new feature that’s present within every ‘S’ update (the 3GS had video recording capabilities and the 4S had Siri) and would see Apple making use of its acquisition of mobile security firm AuthenTec. The most recent speculation, from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, suggests that the iPhone 5S’ home button will now be made from sapphire crystal (used on the lens of the iPhone 5’s camera) and feature a new convex design, to give engineers enough room to embed the much-rumoured fingerprint sensor itself
According to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, the fingerprint scanner won’t have any particularly far-reaching implications for iOS 7 security features, acting initially as way to unlock the device:
We expect the iPhone 5S to include a fingerprint sensor with a basic unlocking feature, but do not believe the sensor will be built into iOS 7 enough to introduce a feature like secure payments as we believe that Authentec has only been a part of Apple for less than one year. We believe that payments could be a key feature of the next version of iOS in 2014.
Despite Munster’s earlier assertion that the fingerprint scanner might not be used for secure payments, there’s hope yet that he may be wrong. A patent, originally filed by Apple last year, has recently surfaces, showing plans for a fingerprint scanner combined with near-field communication technology.
The patent mentions a number of uses for NFC technology including the ability to make payments. NFC has seen wide adoption by other smartphone vendors, but Apple has been reluctant to follow suit, presumably because of the attached security risks associated with the technology. Authentication via a fingerprint sensor, though, could make all the difference to the security of NFC payments.
What links this patent to the iPhone 5S, though, is another recent leak of what is reported to be the device’s retail packaging. Although it all looks fairly similar to previous iPhone packaging, an important distinction here is the silver ring that appears around the home button. Before the patent unveiling, it was unclear as to why this ring appeared or if indeed if the packaging was legitimate, but with the two reports coming together, we wouldn’t surprised if this iPhone ran rings around the rest.
While we can’t see the home button going concave (as opposed to the convex shape in all current iPhone models), it’s not entirely impossible and would help to solve any possible engineering problems that could occur from cramming everything into that small space. Regardless, it seems like a fingerprint sensor could well be the iPhone 5S’ headline feature.
Additional specs – faster processor, upgraded camera, iOS 7, more colour options
Beyond the heavily rumoured fingerprint sensor, details regarding the rest of the iPhone 5S’ specs are far more scarce. Early reports suggested that the device would feature a new, 12-megapixel camera with improved night shooting and HDR modes. Given the iPhone 5’s jump to an 8-megapixel camera (from the 4s’ 4-megapixel offering), this seems like a logical step and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the new iPhone take some significantly larger images. That said, a further report from Japanese blog Mac Otakara suggests that the iPhone 5S will retain the current 8-megapixel sensor, with the camera’s aperture shifted to f/2.0 to let in more light. Adding to the camera’s clout is a rumoured dual-LED flash, an upgrade from the single-LED flash that currently exists on the iPhone 5.
The same report suggests that iPhone 5S will run on the rumoured, Samsung-produced A7 processor that was previously revealed in iOS 7’s code by a developer. Similar reports have also come from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who suggests that the processor will be based on an ARMv8 architecture, possibly leading to a 20% increase in performance over the A6 chip found in the iPhone 5.
As far as aesthetics goes, Mac Otakara suggests that the new home button will also drop the right square in the middle, presumably to aid with the fingerprint scanner feature. However, its final point raises a few eyebrows, suggesting that the 5S will come in three colours; black, white and gold. Gold seems like a real wildcard here and we wouldn’t be surprised if this last point turned out to be a red herring, but there are further reports of this emerging which makes us think that Apple might go for gold after all.
TechCrunch columnist MG Siegler has posted his thoughts on the notion of a gold iPhone. Citing ‘multiple sources’, he asserts that it will happen, pointing towards a more subtle, ‘champagne’ finish as opposed to a bright gold colour. His comments reflect those of iMore’s Rene Ritchie who suggests that the gold colour is not only easier to anodise than some of the existing colour options, but that it could prove popular in markets such as China and India.
Further to this, it appears a graphite colour option will also be available, alongside the ‘champagne’ colour that was previously rumoured. Leaked casing parts have added fuel to this fire and a new video from iCrackUriDevice appears to show the parts themselves in astonishing detail:
Elsewhere, it’s expected the iPhone 5S will be largely the same as its predecessor, albeit with the obvious speed improvements. After all, the ‘S’ updates tend to usually equal an increase in speed. Finally, it’s almost certain that the iPhone 5S will launch running Apple’s next mobile operating system, iOS 7.
Announcement, launch date, pricing, availability
With AllThingsD pencilling in the iPhone 5S’ launch date for 10th September, former Pocket developer Steve Streza suggested that the device would go on sale around September 20th.
The dates match up with previous announcement and subsequent launch dates, with both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 hitting the shelves around ten days after their announcement in the US and UK (with other countries following suit around ten days later.
In terms of pricing, rumour and speculation are scarce, but we’d expect to see the iPhone 5S follow the same structure as the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S, retailing for $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB on contract. At this point, we’d usually point a cut-price iPhone 5 and iPhone 4s, but that may all be set to change this year with the September 10th announcement also rumoured to include the launch of the cheaper iPhone 5C.
Along with his reports of the A7 chip that’s rumoured to feature in the iPhone 5S, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that Apple will look to further differentiate from the iPhone 5 with further storage options and a new casing colour:
We also forecast the new model will add a new look, a golden casing, and a new option for larger 128GB storage, to offer greater differentiation from iPhone 5.
Much like the iPhone 5, early indications suggest that initial shipments of the iPhone 5S will be constrained, owing to reportedly low yields of the fingerprint sensor.
Should the iPhone 5S’ rumoured September 10th launch date turn out to be true, we’ll be covering it live on icreatemagazine.com and over on Twitter (@iCreateMagazine). Be sure to check back here (and there) as we build up to what’s shaping up to be the most exciting date on Apple’s 2013 calendar.