The Apple 5S rumor round-up: gold, biometrics, better camera, better ARM processor, and more storage

Posted by Emory Kale
Let's recap the rumors, sort out the likely from the maybe and the  you must be on something, dude. 
 
So, here's what we think we know:
 
  • The 5S is the cheapie version of the 5. The expectation is that it will come free from carriers with the usual ball and chain contract. Very un-iPhone-ish, but this ain't Steve Jobs' Apple any more. It's more pragmatic.
  • The 5S will go candy colored and have different colored backing. This is not earth shattering in its significance but hipsters everywhere are feeling under the weather as they wrestle with the impact of the new colors on their usually grubby wardrobe options.
  • The camera may or may not be better. But, then again, every new phone comes up with some new piece of camera hardware tweak so, this is highly probable. Cameras on phones are the new recipients of the Moore's Law award for exponential change.
  • The most intriguing rumor is regarding a biometric fingerprint scanner, supposedly the upshot of Apple's acquisition of AuthenTec. I'm going to say that this feature will be there, it will be enabled in the OS, but who knows. Sounds like too many gimmicky updates to the feature set: colors, fingerprint scanners, gold cases.
  • Gold case. I don't even want to talk about this one because it is just sad that we even think this is worth the discussion of a new iPhone.
  • Most exciting is the rumor that the 5S will be using the A7 chipset. That warms our hardware hearts. The A7 is a da bomb.
  • More flash memory. Maybe 128GB. Doesn't sound cheap. Could be an upgrade option. Could be that you end up paying full price for this sucker once you add in all the options so, it really isn't that cheap-o iPhone everyone thinks it will be.
 
In the meantime, the speculation rolls along.
 
Tanner Marsh has been a reliable source of surreptitious information in the past, and he has news on the candy colored rear shell for the new 5S:
 
Today, in collaboration with Jailbreak Evasi0n (a site I manage), I’m proud to bring my viewers and readers an in-depth unboxing video and first look at five leaked iPhone 5C back housing components. In the video, which is embedded below, I un-package and discuss five separate back assembly enclosures for Apple’s upcoming lower-cost plastic iPhone 5C smartphone.

 
Will Stabley, who is one of my favorite bloggers right now, makes a good point about the positioning of the 5S:
 
Apple is about to offer the iPhone 5C, a new variant that’s unique because it’ll be available for free with contract from cellular carriers. Except there’s nothing new or unique about that at all, because Apple offers a free with contract iPhone option right now. In fact it has for years. While the current iPhone 5 sells for $199 with contract, the iPhone 4S is available for $99 and the iPhone 4 is free entirely. The year before that, when the 4S was still the top of the heap, the iPhone 3GS was free with contract. The glaring question over the years is why almost no consumers have been aware of it.
 
Not sure, but Eric Zeman may be trolling the 5S - kiddin' Eric - but he makes some damn good points:
 
One significant bit of technology that remains absent from the iPhone is near-field communications (NFC). NFC is a short-range radio tech that can be used for mobile payments, easy device pairing, and so on. The iPhone is one of the few leading smartphones that lacks NFC. Adding it to the iPhone 5S and 5C would be a welcome addition to the device, but again, nothing new as far as the industry is concerned.
 
Then there's wireless charging. Apple has so far shunned the idea of adding wireless charging features to the iPhone. Given that there are three specs still vying to become the default standard in wireless charging, it makes sense that Apple has held off. Without knowing which spec will eventually prevail, it would be fruitless for Apple to add the tech to the iPhone at this point.
 
These are all minor hardware features, though. Even if Apple adds all of them, the iPhone 5S will look nearly identical to the iPhone 5. That means it won't have a lot of visual pizazz to entice buyers. Further, many of these features and functions (NFC and wireless charging, for example) are already available on competing devices. It's not like Apple will be setting any technological precedents if it throws them in.
 
We also have a pretty good idea what Apple is bringing to the table with iOS 7. The operating system will arrive with a complete visual overhaul. Though the underlying functionality of the operating system will be much the same, all the icons, fonts, and colors have been changed. There are new features all over the place, such as the control drawer that slides up from the bottom, iTunes Radio for streaming music, improvements to Siri and Safari, and better lock-screen notifications and multitasking powers.
 
So are new colors, a few minor hardware tweaks, and a revised operating system enough to re-stoke interest in Apple's iPhone? Maybe -- or maybe not.
 
As for us at TGD: every new phone, unless it has a jetpack attachement, is just over-hyped. We haven't seen much to change our phone experience yet, and we're Android users anyhow. Agnostic, but Android users nevertheless. 
 
If anything, we just like bigger, sharper screens, and would love a phone that has a built-in projector. That would be a real game changer.