The iPhone 5s secret weapon: the camera

While the fingerprint scanner in the new iPhone 5s gets all the glory, the real killer feature in the flagship iPhone is its camera.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor
The iPhone 5s' secret weapon: its camera - Jason O'Grady
(Photo: Jason O'Grady)

When people ask to see my iPhone 5s, they always want to see the fingerprint scanner. Then it tell them flatly "it's invisible." 

While it sounds flip, it's actually quite true. There's really nothing to see short of the "Add a Fingerprint" UI that's in Settings > General > Passcode & Fingerprint. And once you've been there and added your digits, there's almost nothing to see. There's no prompt to unlock your iPhone with your finger, you just touch the button. There's one prompt when you buy an app, but who wants to constantly buy apps to demo the fingerprint scanner?

Purchasing an app is one of the few ways to see the fingerprint scanning UI - Jason O'Grady

In fact, it's such a bad visual demo that Apple had to create a dummy "Fingerprint" app that's installed on the home screen of the demo iPhone 5s' in the Apple Store. All it does is scan your finger so that you can test the UI. (Fingerprints are not saved according to the small text at the bottom of the screen.)

The real killer feature in the iPhone 5s is the camera, and it's not surprising that it's the most popular camera in the world. 

The more I use it, the more that it amazes me. I'll write more about it as I get more comfortable with it, but there are two camera features that are positively amazing and alone are worth getting the iPhone 5s over the 5c for. 

Burst Mode and Slo-Mo. 

When someone asks me for the 'fingerprint demo,' my stock answer is that "it's invisible... but watch this." Then I launch the Camera app and touch and hold the shutter button while it fires off 10 frames per second for as long as I hold the button. The paparazzi-like, machine gun sound effect of the shutter ripping frames is mind-blowingly cool. 

I love this feature most because I have two small kids and getting them both to look at the camera at the same time is almost impossible (every parent is familiar with this problem). But now I just hold down the shutter button, fire off 50-60 frames and "fix it in post." Even more amazing is that the iOS 7 Camera app usually finds the best shots for me automatically (called "Favorites"), where both kids are a) not blurry, and b) looking at the camera.

The other camera feature I'm learning to love is the 120 FPS slow-motion mode which overnight made the iPhone 5s the "visualist phone of choice," according to CreateDigitalMotion's Peter Kirn.

if you’re investing in a new phone. And I have to say, generally, while other rivals (notably Samsung and Nokia) ship phones with good optics, Apple seems to have the edge in software.

Check out this incredible demo video from Rishi Kaneria which was shot on an iPhone 5s in 120 FPS slow-motion - the footage is jaw-dropping.

Forget about the fingerprint sensor people, the iPhone 5s camera is its truly killer feature.

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