Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) plans to release its newest iPhone with an embedded fingerprint sensor to improve the phone’s security, but it looks like the alleged iPhone 5S won’t be the first smartphone on the market with a fingerprint sensor. Pantech, based in Seoul, has just announced the release of its Vega LTE-A, one of the first smartphones to run on South Korea’s newly launched LTE-Advanced network and the first smartphone to hit the market with embedded fingerprint recognition software.
Pantech isn’t as common or as popular as other manufacturers, but that’s only because Pantech devices are mainly exclusive to the domestic Korean market, second only to Samsung but ahead of LG. The new Pantech Vega LTE-A features a 5.6-inch full HD display and is powered by a 2.3 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor running Android 4.2.2, but the key feature is obviously the phone’s fingerprint sensor, which is localized to a small area on the phone’s back.
The Pantech Vega LTE-A may have introduced the fingerprint sensor before the iPhone 5S, but other smartphones are starting to introduce the feature. Even though the Motorola Atrix 2 almost introduced a fingerprint sensor back in 2011, fingerprint sensors are getting hot again thanks largely to Apple’s interest in the technology, and the company’s not-so-quiet acquisition of Florida-based AuthenTec last July. The LG G2, which will be introduced on Wednesday, is also rumored to release with a fingerprint sensor, but that news won’t be confirmed until tomorrow.
The Pantech Vega LTE-A is no slouch with its large 1080p HD display, its fast processor and its 13-megapixel camera, but most consumers, especially in the U.S., are still looking ahead to the release date of the iPhone 5S, which is expected to arrive next month. The fingerprint sensor is said to be the centerpiece of this year’s iPhone release, and the key differentiator from last year’s iPhone 5.
The “S” in the name “iPhone 5S” is said to stand for “security,” or “sensor,” which would be a reference to AuthenTec’s most prized product, the "Smart Sensor," which was announced last May before its acquisition by Apple in July.
AuthenTec's first Smart Sensor crams a 500 ppi, 192x8 pixel detection matrix and all the fingerprint matching technology necessary to accurately and securely detect and encrypt data about your finger into an area that’s just 3mm high and 1.3mm thick. The iPhone 5S will likely release with AuthenTec's "anti-spoofing technology," which ensures that only real fingerprints are read by measuring the unique properties of the skin on your finger and translating those traits into digital data that's then compared with the "expected [fingerprint] properties."
But that's not all. AuthenTec's technology can also differentiate fingers so as to associate different functions with those fingers. For example, you could potentially use different fingers to play music, or ask for directions, or call a particular contact on the iPhone 5S. Apple has reportedly integrated AuthenTec’s Smart Sensor directly into the iPhone’s signature home button, but it’s possible that Apple will release the iPhone 5S with the fingerprint recognition technology embedded directly behind the iPhone 5S display.
The fingerprint sensor may allow the iPhone 5S to automatically authenticate one’s identity, possibly negating the need to input personal data on one’s phone again and again, or even the need to remember a passcode combination. Patently Apple offers a fantastic description of how this biometric fingerprint technology in the iPhone 5S could enhance iPhone 5S activities like e-commerce.
iPhone 5S Release Date Coming: Other Features To Expect
Apple rumors site MacRumors posted alleged photos in late June of the alleged iPhone 5S, which lined up with previously leaked photos and further illustrated the differences between the iPhone 5 and this year’s iPhone 5S in terms of specs and components. MacRumors’ iPhone 5S photo revealed a nameless Apple-built CPU, which, upon further investigation of its chip model number, looks to be a new A7 chip rather than a modification of the A6 chip currently featured in the iPhone 5.
Comparing other specs between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, the iPhone 5S logic board will release slightly narrower than the iPhone 5’s logic board to make room for new components and connectors, and the 5.45 Whr lithium-ion polymer battery in the iPhone 5 also looks to be upgraded to a 3.8-volt battery with a capacity of 5.92 Whr.
Besides these improved specs and the fingerprint sensor, it looks like the second-biggest feature of this year's iPhone release will be its newly-improved camera. Whereas the iPhone 5 featured an 8-megapixel camera with a singular circular flash module, rumors point to a new 12-megapixel rear side camera in the iPhone 5S, and photos also revealed a new pill-shaped dual-LED flash. Both of these new camera features in the iPhone 5S may be key to the inclusion of a new feature called "Mogul," which was discovered in code embedded within the latest beta release of iOS 7. But since the new "Mogul" feature won't activate on the iPhone 5 due to "unsupported hardware," it looks like Mogul will be an exclusive feature of the iPhone 5S in the same way Siri was previously exclusive to the iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 5S “Mogul” feature, according to 9to5Mac’s “analysis and testing of the code,” will allow the iPhone 5S to capture video at “an exceptionally fast and precise rate,” indicating a potential recording rate of 120 frames-per-second. With such a fast frame rate, it seems like the Mogul feature in the iPhone 5S will support slow-motion video, since slow-motion effects require frames to be captured at a fast rate that appear slowed down when the video is replayed at a standard speed. With a presumably enhanced camera -- the iPhone hasn’t received a camera upgrade since the release of the iPhone 4S -- this additional Mogul feature should give the iPhone 5S the “cool factor” it desperately needs when it sees its release date next month.
Apple iPhone 5S: Release Date Coming Next Month?
Now that you have an idea of what Apple is planning to release regarding the iPhone 5S, many want to know when the phone's exact release date will arrive. Given the release timetable for iOS 7, we fully expect Apple's big iPhone launch to coincide with the release date schedule of iOS 7 -- specifically in late-September.
We believe Apple will announce iOS 7, as well as the iPad 5, iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 at an event taking place on Tuesday, Sept. 3, which would mean Apple would release iOS 7 about one week later on Wednesday, Sept. 11. We also believe Apple will release the iPad 5, as well as its newest and perhaps riskiest smartphone yet, the plastic iPhone 6, on Friday, Sept. 13.
With that in mind, and also taking into consideration the adjusted release date timeline from trustworthy KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, we believe Apple will release the iPhone 5S two weeks after the release of the budget iPhone, on Friday, Sept. 27. We believe Apple moved the release date of the iPhone 5S two weeks after the iPhone 6 because of alleged supply constraints related to production of the fingerprint sensor.
What do you think of the iPhone 5S? Does the fingerprint sensor appeal to you at all? Do you plan on purchasing an iPhone 5S when it sees its release date next month? Sound off in the comments section below.