iPhone 5s: Australian Hands-On

While iFans were still lining up around the nation, the new iPhone 5s landed on our test bench and we’ve already been putting it through its paces. It’s amazing how something so marginally different can feel completely new and fresh.

The iPhone 5s is the latest iGadget to come out of Cupertino and it’s the most powerful handset Apple has released to date.

It’s packing the new 1.7GHz dual-core A7 ARM processor, 1GB of RAM, dual-band 4G/LTE, an 8-megapixel camera with a bi-xenon flash, the new iOS 7 operating system and a 1570mAh battery.

Despite the dual-core processor and a meagre 1GB of RAM, Apple has managed to squeeze a phenomenal amount of power out of the handset to turn it into a 64-bit beast. Geekbench 3 is out now, refined for 64-bit operating systems and it’s what we’ll be using from here on out to test devices. Geekbench 3 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 2500 (which is the score of an Intel Core i5-2520M @ 2.50 GHz). The higher the score on Geekbench 3 the better.

The most powerful device we’ve had through the labs so far is the 2013 Nexus 7 tablet which clocked in at 2530. The iPhone 5s beats it, running up the meter all the way to 2546. Insane.

The iPhone 5s is nothing short of gorgeous, although we’re not sure how much of the love comes from the gorgeous new iOS 7 platform and ow much is from the shiny new hardware. We’d say 50/50 at this point, but it’s amazing how a bit of a spit and polish on the software side can make an minor hardware update feel like a completely new experience.

The most interesting new feature on the iPhone 5s so far is the TouchID fingerprint sensor. Passcodes are cumbersome and slow your whole experience down. I’d venture a guess that it’s why a lot of people don’t have one. Apple is trying to fix that with the new fingerprint-scanning technology concealed cleverly under the home buttton called TouchID.

Setting it up takes about 30 seconds and it’s probably a good idea to do both your thumb and your index finger for when you have the phone flat on a desk. The TouchID sensor takes about 10 different impressions of your finger at different angles so it knows who you are even if you’re hurriedly stabbing at the sensor.

Like we said earlier, passcodes slow things down and TouchID isn’t much faster, taking about two seconds to unlock the device, but it’s completely frictionless which makes unlocking your phone way easier, especially for smaller-handed folk who have trouble swinging their thumb around iOS 7’s slightly larger keypad.

The new camera on the iPhone 5s doesn’t boast more megapixels than that of its predecessor, the iPhone 5, but Apple has gone down the route blazed by HTC’s Ultrapixel camera seen on the One by making the pixels on the sensor larger. It’s hoped by making the pixels bigger that the camera works better in low-light. From early impressions, it looks like Apple has succeeded in making a better low-light shooter than before.

The bi-xenon flash technology is also awesome for capturing better natural colours in low-light conditions, and the flash is now used as a focus light in super-dark areas. Handy.

All in all, this iPhone is shaping up to be the best yet.

Stay tuned for our full review of the iPhone 5s.

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