The iPhone 5S has just been announced. It’s a phone of classy upgrades that – for the most part – don’t shout too loudly about their presence. They just make the phone that bit more pleasant to use day-to-day.
One of the most heavily-rumoured features of the iPhone 5S was NFC. But it is still missing from the iPhone line-up. We even thought it would be introduced with the iPhone 5 last year. But there’s no sign of NFC.
But what is NFC? It’s a wireless communications standard that lets two devices talk to each other over short distances. It could be used to share info between phones, for example. A more interesting application of the technology is seen on the high street. A few retailers use NFC as a payments standard.
You can buy a cup of coffee with the swipe of an NFC-enabled phones in some Starbucks stores. Its non-appearance in the iPhone 5S is a major blow for the development of this tech as a whole.
128GB internal storage
Like the iPhone 5, memory in the iPhone 5S maxes-out at 64GB. We had a feeling Apple might introduce a 128GB iPhone 5S, but it didn’t.
There are several companies working on flash memory wafers small enough to let a slim phone pack in 128GB of storage, but apparently they’re either not affordable or accessible enough yet. We did have some reason to foresee a 128GB iPhone too – Apple released a 128GB iPad back in early 2013.
Maybe it’s for the best that Apple didn’t make a 128GB iPhone 5S, though. It would be terrifyingly expensive.
A super-size camera sensor
One of the top features of the iPhone 5S is that it has a larger camera sensor than the iPhone 5. We’re big believers in the idea that camera sensor size is – along with lens quality and speed – one of the key aspects of any good camera.
However, it’s not exactly massive. It’s 15 per cent larger than the sensor of the iPhone 5, giving the 8-megapixel camera sensor pixels that are 1.5 microns in size – a bit bigger than the 1.4 micron pixels of the last model.
This is a step in the right direction, and we have no doubts that the iPhone 5S will have a great mobile camera. But the photography pedant in us would like to see Apple take this a step further by using a 1/2.3 size sensor – the type seen in the Sony Xperia Z1.
A slightly larger screen
The iPhone 5S has a cracking screen. As with the iPhone 5, Apple has made sure its colour calibration is as good as possible, and that it makes the most of the contrast it can muster. However, now that we’ve used more 5-inch phones than we can count, we do think the iPhone’s screen is starting to look a bit small.
Apple has only altered the iPhone 5’s screen size once in the series’ history – and let’s not forget it has been around a while (the first iPhone was announced in 2007.)
Staying conservative with screen size helps the iPhone 5S to stay ultra-accessible, able to fit comfortably in anyone’s hand (apart from a newborn baby.) However, many activities benefit from a larger screen – games, web browsing, video watching and many kinds of apps. Apple can’t ignore the big-screen revolution for ever.
Apple’s mobile devices have a little moisture sensor that tells Apple’s Genius workers if you’ve accidentally dropped your phone down the toilet when you go for a repair at an Apple Store. Wouldn’t it be better if the iPhone could actually withstand a bit of water?
There are several high-end phones that offer minor ruggedisation that makes them fairly water and dustproof. Most notably, there’s the Sony Xperia Z and Xperia Z1.
What Apple needs to work out is how to do it without ruining the iPhone 6’s design. The tricky bits are the headphone jack and the Lightning port, which would both either need to be treated to block water from the insides or bunged-up with a rubberised cover. The latter isn’t very ‘Apple’.
Still, an iPhone we could take into the bath without worrying about killing the thing is high on our Christmas list.
What we’ve described here is a phone that’s quite different from the iPhone 5S. It’s a phone with different priorities – a phone that’s not afraid to rock the iPhone boat a bit. Will we see it? Apple has made its biggest changes to the iPhone when changing the phone’s ‘number’ rather than bunging an S on the end, so it’s possible. However, it demands a leap of faith we’re not entirely sure Apple under Tim Cook’s leadership is willing to take.
Next read our iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5 comparison