Apple announces iPhone 5S: What you need to know

Apple announced the much-anticipated iPhone 5S at a media event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. Here's the run down of what you need to know.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Image: Apple

Amid months of rumors and leaks, speculation (and more leaks), Apple finally announced what we all expected: the iPhone 5S.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook took to the stage at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, along with other senior executives and vice-presidents, to announce the seventh-generation iPhone since its inception in 2007.

For the first time in the company's annual release cycle, hundreds of reporters descended on the Apple headquarters to see and experience the brand new smartphone, which has taken the world — both consumers and enterprise customers — by storm. In spite of the leaks, the rumors, the speculation (and even more leaks), the media from the world over were still in for a few surprises, thanks due in part to Apple's tight-lipped philosophy. 

The new iPhone 5S, which lands in gold, silver, and space-gray colored versions, comes in three different flavors: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, costing $199, $299 and $399 respectively on a two-year contract.

Devices also come with additional cases, including one made of leather, at $39 each.

With the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 retired, the iPhone 4S (8GB version) will now become free on contract.

Pre-orders start on September 13, and consumers can buy in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, the U.K., and other countries, on September 20.  

The latest version of its mobile operating system iOS 7 will be released for free on September 18. It will be made available on iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini, and 5th gen iPod touch.

Here's what Apple is serving up in the iPhone 5:

64-bit A7 chip: The world's first 64-bit mobile phone with over 1 billion transistors. According to Apple, it has 56-times the processing power in the new processor, which can make some apps run as much as five-times faster.

Fingerprint reader: Dubbed "Touch ID," users can now access their devices with the in-built fingerprint reader. Embedded in the device's home button, now a stainless steel "detection ring," it can now read fingerprints 360-degrees at a very high resolution of 500 pixels-per-inch. It can also be used to make in-app purchases. 

Image: CNET

Improved battery: The iPhone 5S' battery now has up to 10 hours of 3G talk time, LTE browsing and Wi-Fi browsing, and up to 250 hours on standby. According to Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, this is still "better than the iPhone 5."

Better 8-megapixel camera:  The new iSight camera includes a five-element Apple-designed lens, and a new sensor with a 15 percent larger active area. The dual-LED camera will help get the right color balance out of the flash, making skin tones look far better. It also comes with a new "burst-mode" which takes 10 frames per second, while the video mode captures high-definition imagery at 120 frames per second.  

Included in the latest version of iOS 7, we have:

Radical new user interface: Now boasting blurs and layers, tucked-away features, and transitioning animations, iOS 7's visual foundation is built on three-dimensional effects and faux-perspective. With translucent, blurry layer sitting on top of all other facets of the platform, nothing ever feels as though it has "gone away." The software also features a dynamic, moving "parallax" wallpaper with "flatter" icons.

Control Center: The swipe-up "cheat-sheet" area of your phone or tablet, that will allow you to access the device's basic features and functions — ready and waiting when you need them quickly. Separated into four distinct panels (or five, when an AirPlay device is detected), each section offers different core device options, such as radio access or screen brightness.

Redesigned notifications: Swipe-down and you have a brand new, elegant full-display look at what is coming up, and what you've missed since you last looked at your device. Totally redesigned from the ground up, it's now easier than ever being briefed on what's come into your device at any given time.

Improved Siri assistant: The same old voice-activated intelligence assistant has grown up. Donning the same old voices but refined vocabulary, the on-hand helper now has much better speech recognition support. Siri is now refined and polished, and, above all else, it works when you need it most, and now accommodates a string of new, different features and services, including access to your device's hardware features.

Brand new business, enterprise features: iOS 7 now comes with per-app virtual private networking (VPN) so you can connect your email account to your office network while keeping browsing on your home Wi-Fi. It also comes with PDF support in email, enterprise single sign-on, and third-party app data protection that keeps data stored in a compartmented and secure way.

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