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Apple iPhone 5S: Comparing superphones

Fin - Dashboard - CA
Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Apple Inc, talks about the new iPhone 5S at Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS TELECOMS)

It’s a tale of two solitudes: Apple has stuck to a roughly once-a-year product release cadence with its iPhone since it first bowed in 2007, while new and ever-more feature-laden Android-powered superphones from Samsung, Motorola, HTC, LG, Sony and others seem to pop up in stores and online virtually every week or so.

As the competition continued to mount, Apple’s annual cycle didn’t do the iconic smartphone any favours this year. The iPhone 5 cruised into the late summer with a growing list of things it lacked compered to the competition. The almost-year-old product – it turns one out Sept. 12th – needed a refresh.

A quick look at the specs of the just-announced iPhone 5S shows that Apple has once again levelled the playing field. Where the iPhone 5 was starting to be outshone by newer competitors with faster Wi-Fi, enterprise-grade security and quad- and even eight-core processors, the new 5S fills in the obvious gaps, with careful tweaks to the hardware and the upgrade to iOS7. In doing so, Apple’s latest device re-ignites the battle for supremacy among flagship phones.

The new top-end device manages to re-establish the iPhones without radically shifting away from what made previous versions so successful in he first place. At first glance, save for the fancy new slate, gold or silver color scheme, it’s easy to mistake the 5S for the 5. Continuing its previous habit of keeping the basic shape consistent for at least two consecutive generations, the screen hasn’t physically grown.

While the new superphone’s less expensive little brother, the colourful iPhone 5C, may have stolen some of the 5S’s thunder, it’s the halo product that sets the tone for the platform and indicates where Apple may be headed next with the rest of its iOS-based lineup, namely the iPad and iPod touch. For now, at least, the 5S keeps Apple current.

Here’s a closer look at today’s top superphones from the major players. While no one device is perfect for everyone, some hardware specs matter more – or less – depending on how the phone is ultimately used. Let the specs be your guide:

[Link to/insert Excel spreadsheet – submitting separately]