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).

Apple iPhone 4S now free on-contract in wake of iPhone 5c reveal

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Just yesterday, the venerable iPhone 4S sat as Apple’s mid-tier smartphone, but now it’s moving into a new role as the company’s go-to option for budget seekers: an 8GB iPhone 4S is now free on-contract. The news follows this morning’s introduction of the iPhone 5c ($99), which brings a dash of color to Apple’s mid-range and replaces the iPhone 5.

A similar discount is also in effect for the unlocked iPhone 4S, which now sells for $450 outright for the new 8GB model. Alongside the price drop, the continuation of the iPhone 4S brings a reprieve for Apple’s legacy 30-pin dock connector, which is an important consideration for compatibility-minded folks. Naturally, you won’t find all the latest goodies — or even LTE — in this 2-year old smartphone, but living behind the curve sure is easier on the wallet.

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.

Apple iPhone 5c hands-on

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Wait, Apple unveiled two completely different iPhones on the same day? In the same year? The answer is a resounding yes, though we have a feeling Tim Cook’s little surprise wasn’t the most well-kept secret in Cupertino. Known as the iPhone 5c, this is the less expensive (yet vibrant) sidekick to the 5s, and we’ve been playing with the device here at Apple HQ.

The device will be available for pre-order starting September 13th, and can be picked up at stores a week later on September 20th. You can get your choice of five colors, and the 16GB version will be offered for $99 on contract, while the 32GB tacks on an extra $100 to the total; if contracts aren’t your thing, the off-contract costs are $549 and $649, respectively. We’ll be bringing you a full helping of pics, vids and our initial impressions as we go along, so keep your eyes peeled here!

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.

Next Browser for Android mashes up its rivals’ greatest hits (video)

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When few (if any) web browsers do everything well, many of us have more than one client just to cover all the bases. The GO Launcher Dev Team’s just-launched Next Browser for Android tries to solve this in the simplest way possible: it cherry picks features from established rivals. Sharing extensions from Dolphin? Check. Chrome’s frequently visited pages? Check. Speed Dial from Opera? Check.

There’s even a Flipboard-style RSS reader. As there’s also bookmark syncing and voice search, Next Browser is theoretically the only client that Android users could want. How well that pastiche works is another matter, but those who’ve been pining for an all-encompassing browser can give the new app a try at the source link.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 wireless charging pad and S Health scale hands-on

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No phone launch is complete without a few accessories added to the mix. Samsung had a whole bunch to announce alongside its Galaxy S 4, but only a few were on hand to check out up close and personal. We did, however, find a nice surprise hiding under those glossy white table covers — a wireless charging pad. Yes, it turns out the the GS 4 does in fact have Qi wireless charging capabilities.

Provided its available in your region and your carrier chooses to support it. The charging pad itself has a glossy plastic base that matches the phone, but there’s a nice rubbery gray top that keeps the handset from sliding around too much while it’s juicing up.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 vs. Galaxy S III: what’s changed?

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Okay, okay, we all get it: the Galaxy S 4 looks a lot like last year’s model. But there are of course some differences, most notably on the inside, where the phone steps up to an either an Exynos 5 or Snapdragon chip, depending on the region.

As is our way, we’ve combed the spec sheets for both models to see exactly what’s changed this time around. So, phone snobs, have at it!

Check out our event hub for all the action from Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 event.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 launching on 327 carriers in 155 countries, starting at the end of April

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Samsung has announced some of its launch partners for the Galaxy S 4 which will include some 327 carriers in 155 countries. According to JK Shin, it will include global LTE roaming, with 3G and LTE models in multiple bands (up to hexa band, according to the slide).

Samsung’s PR reveals it will be on all four major US carriers, plus US Cellular and Cricket, while European carriers include Deutsche Telecom, EE, H3G, Orange, Telenor, Telia Sonera, Telefonica, and Vodafone.

Update: AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have all issued official statements to along with the launch which are included after the break. Look below for links to early registration for launch details from Samsung and the various carriers.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 official: 5-inch 1080p display, Octa-core Exynos chip and 13MP camera

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Another year, another Galaxy S flagship smartphone from Samsung. 2013’s version of the crown jewel, the Galaxy S 4, has just been officially announced at its Unpacked event. Since we know you’re dying to find out what’s new, let’s dive straight into the details. The GS 4 features a 5-inch 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) Super AMOLED panel which offers a pixel density of 441 ppi. It’s also a powerful beast: it packs 2GB RAM and will come with either a 1.6GHz Exynos Octa-core chip or a 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm, depending on your region. (Unfortunately, Samsung hasn’t yet specified which Snapdragon we can expect, but we’re guessing it’s at least a 600 if not an 800.) Refreshingly, it will also come with Android 4.2.2 on-board when it launches.

Dimension-wise, the GS 4 is 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm (5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inch) and weighs 130g (4.59 ounces). The chassis itself is actually 0.8mm skinnier, 0.7mm thinner and 3g lighter than its predecessor, which is impressive given its larger screen size and 2,600mAh battery. It will launch in black and white hues, though Samsung plans to add more colors to its lineup as the year progresses. Head below the break as we continue to reveal what else you can expect from the newest Galaxy device.