Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Thoughts On The iPhone 5S, is 8MP Really Enough ?

On September 10, Apple introduced a duo of iPhones which is the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S. If you would like to read my thoughts on the iPhone 5C click here. The iPhone 5S will be replacing the outgoing iPhone 5 which has been already discontinued. The iPhone 5S is continuing Apple’s tradition which all started with the iPhone 3GS where devices ending with the letter ‘S’ will be merely internal upgrades with minor cosmetic upgrades. Apple’s release cycle are also similar to intel’s approach on their processors release cycle. The launch of the iPhone 5S thus confirms Apple’s way and routine of releasing iPhones and I also think that there are getting themselves comfy in the month of September to reveal new iPhones. Moving back the topic in hand today which is the iPhone 5S.
'apple's release cycle for iPhones will agitate fans sooner or later'
The entire look of the iPhone 5S is no stranger to us as in the past few months it has been leaked extensively. Aesthetically the iPhone 5S looks identical to the iPhone 5 but Apple did alter the design a bit to accompany the new hardware related features of the iPhone 5S. The most obvious difference on the front of the iPhone 5S is the home button which no longer has the iconic square in the middle of the home button. The new cleaner home button also has a gold ring around it which is used to sense your finger to activate the fingerprint sensor TouchID sensor which is basically just a fingerprint sensor with one of Apple’s fancy name on. Additionally the home button is now covered with Sapphire glass which is more stronger glass to take on the daily presses which will become more often due to the implementation of the biometric sensor embedded on the home button. Turning the device around onto the back the most notable only difference is the flash which now comes in a pair. Apple is calling this the Truetone flash, this new flash has two colors which are ember and white; the camera will analyze the scene and then it will intelligently fire up the flash at certain points which best suit the image being take and will correct the temperature of the photo. From the sample images which Apple has shown up this seems to work because the flash corrects of the bad auto white balance which happens a lot in mobile phone cameras. This flash implementation is pretty similar to what Samsung put up on the table with the Galaxy Note 3 but with Samsung’s implementation they are basically timing the flash to get the right temperature on the subject. Below here is a test photo which shows off the capability of the Truetone flash on the iPhone 5S.
‘the Trutone flash looks to be pretty practical’
image taken indoors in low light conditions (credit: cnet)
In the 7th generation iPhone, Apple has beefed up the hardware to compete with android devices and be able to run next gen apps which will require more horsepower. The main star of the shows is Apple’s new A7 chip which is rocking the new ARMv8 architecture which is 64-bit based. The A7 is still however a dual core processor at heart but Apple says that it has 2X more processing power than the previous iPhone and that power most probably comes from that new 64-bit based architecture. The graphics chip on the new SoC is now a quad core one and according to Apple it is 2X faster then its predecessor, additionally the new graphics chip yields support for OpenGL 3.0 which is also supported on device running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 and 800 chip. Also joining the A7 chip is a new sub processor called M7 which is a motion graphics chip and that chip will be able to detect your footsteps or basically anything to do with health. This new processor will open up possibilities for new fitness apps. Additionally, Apple says that their transition to 64 bit processors will be smooth and their new development kit for developers will help in making app utilize the 64-bit architecture. The second and last hardware alteration Apple introduced in the iPhone 5S is the new Apple designed 8MP camera which has a bigger sensor and to be more specific it has a sensor which measures in at 1.5 ┬Ám. Apple has also dropped down the aperture size to f2.2 so that more light can enter to the sensor to provide better images in low light situations. Apple has also shifted the algorithms for the camera on the 5S the camera has improved AWB, Auto Exposure, new local tone mapping, new autofocus matrix metering with 15 focus zones, and automatic selection of the sharpest image in the capture buffer when you finally press capture. Like every other flagship android device this year the iPhone 5S also sport 120fps video at 720p to get that slow motion feel.
‘to the eyes of consumers 13MP is still better than 8MP’
Right that’s about it for the spec sheet of the iPhone 5S. The thing which I was most disappointed about the iPhone 5S is the screen size, I just don’t understand why can’t Apple just increase the size up to like about 4.3”. 4” in 2013 is the screen size for midrange devices, even the HTC One mini which also has an aluminum body also has a 4.3” screen. I really don’t know why Apple is so stubborn at staying at the 4” size and as time goes android flagship will be getting even bigger and the iPhone will be dwarfed. Another thing is the 64-bit processor A7 chip which is basically a marketing gimmick because Apple didn’t have any specific uses for the new architecture on the iPhone 5S. Basically on computers 64-bit processor are mainly used so that users can break the 4GB RAM limit on 32-bit processor, but I don’t quite see Apple having more than 4GB of RAM on an iPhone in the coming years ahead. One happy thing which I see on the iPhone 5S is the Truetone flash which will greatly help in the look of images when you take pictures which are soley dependent on the flash to give up enough light. When I first heard about the fingerprint sensor one thing has concerned to me, which is that with the wide use of this biometric sensor thieves will just need to hack off your finger to access all your data on your phone. But my paranoid mind was settled when I found out that the fingerprint sensor requires a live and active finger to be activated which means using those old school tricks of getting fingerprints on tape will not work either. Another major problem which I think most of you iPhone 5 users can related to is the battery life. In this iteration of the iPhone, Apple has merely just increased 10% of the battery life and Phil Schiller did promise up on stage that the 5S will still have the 10 hour battery life the iPhone is known for. But really?! Why can’t Apple increase that 10 hour battery life to like 12-13hrs. The camera is yet another problem, sticking up to just 8MP isn’t going to help them because in the minds of the non tech savvy buyer a 13MP camera is still better than a 8MP sensor no matter what crazy innovation you throw in it. 
The thing which I most like about the iPhone 5S is the two new color options which are space grey and champagne gold. The Space Grey color will be replacing the discontinued black color. With these new color options Apple resolved the problem which I was ranting about a few months back when iOS was released which was that the iOS 7 UI is more suited toward the white iPhone. The grey and champagne gold devices are both very light colored devices similar to the iOS 7 UI and I think that iOS 7 would look the best on the champagne gold iPhone 5S because the gold color somehow has that balance of dark and light colors. Well that’s about it for my thoughts on the iPhone 5S, I’ll be doing a follow up article about the iPhone 5S when the device launches in my country. Check out these promo videos of the iPhone 5S.

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