iPhone 5s fingerprint sensor called Touch ID, recognizes your thumb on the Home button: here’s how it works and what it does

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Apple’s brand-new iPhone 5s isn’t dramatically different from last year’s model, but it has at least one major addition: a “Touch ID” sensor. Us human beings are calling it a fingerprint sensor, and it’s built into the phone’s main Home button below the screen. Apple’s Phil Schiller says, “It reads your fingerprint at an entirely new level” — it’s 170 microns in thickness with 500 ppi resolution. According to Cupertino, it “scans sub-epidermal skin layers,” and can read 360 degrees. As expected, the sensor is actually part of the Home button, making it less of a button and more of a…well, sensor. Using Touch ID, users can authorize purchases in iTunes, the App Store, or in iBooks by simply using their thumbprint (starting in iOS 7, of course). Pretty neat / scary!

As rumored, the sensor uses a laser cut sapphire crystal cover; it retains a tactile input for those wary of the sensor wearing down after lengthy use. The sapphire crystal, acting as a lens, takes a highly detailed image of your fingerprint, which Apple says is “never stored on Apple servers or backed up to iCloud.” According to Apple’s official PR on the new phone, Touch ID’s fingerprint info is “encrypted and stored securely in the Secure Enclave inside the A7 chip” (the A7 chip is the new processor at the heart of the 5s). Apple hasn’t made clear whether Touch ID allows for multiple users on a single iPhone or not, nor has the company said whether you could turn off fingerprint authentication (though we have to presume the answer is yes given previous authentication standards on the iPhone).

iPhone 5c and 5s coming to 9 countries, including the US and China on September 20th

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pple’s new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s are now in the wild, and here’s how you’ll be able to grab one. Both will arrive on September 20th in the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK, with iPhone 5c pre-orders starting September 13th. That marks the first time China will get the iPhone at launch, and NTT DoCoMo will get it in Japan for the first time. By December, Apple said the phones will be available in over 100 countries.

Stateside, a basic 16GB iPhone 5s model will run $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB on a two year contract. The iPhone 5c will cost $99 for the 16GB model and $199 for the 32GB model. You’ll also be able to grab them at those prices from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, while an unlocked, contract free iPhone 5c will be available through T-Mobile for $549 (16GB) and $649 (32GB).

Apple iPhone 5s hands-on

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To Apple faithful, iPhone day is as much a holiday as Thanksgiving (and much more so than, say, Columbus Day), and it typically only comes once a year. This time, however, was a little different, since we received even more presents than usual — both the iPhone 5s and the 5c. We headed to the demo tables after this morning’s announcement and had a chance to get our hands on both smartphones.

First, we’ll begin with the 5s, which is the new flagship iPhone that will start at $199 for a 16GB model (32 and 64GB versions will be $299 and $399, respectively) on September 20th.

As you may have already heard, the 5s is rather similar in overall hardware to the iPhone 5, though there are a few changes in key places. As you can see in the above image, it’s available in three colors: space grey (which has black highlights on top and bottom), white and — as rumored so many times — gold.

New iPhones means new accessories: see the options right here

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Welcome to the drama, the dilemmas, the sheer disbelief involved in picking accessories to go with your new iPhone. (Yes, an official 30-pin to Lightning adapter really costs that much). We can’t promise to make the choices easy, but we can at least give you a glimpse of some of the bumpers and functional extras that Apple has revealed today, and link you up to the relevant pages on Apple’s store (see the Source links below).

Starting with the iPhone 5c, it’s “unapologetically” plastic to start with, of course, but you can give it extra protection with an additional, colorful mesh-style plastic case. This costs $29 and comes in the same five colors as the phone itself, so you can either match the phone or mix it up with a secondary color. There’s also a black option if you want to tone things down a bit. One more thing: the iPhone 5c gets it’s own Lightning dock, which comes in plain white and costs $29.