The iPhone 5s is exactly the same size as the iPhone 5, but not all iPhone 5 cases will work with the slightly redesigned iPhone 5s.
Apple added one new feature that limits the iPhone 5 case options users can put on the iPhone 5s and retain full functionality — a fingerprint sensor.
The iPhone 5s fingerprint sensor, called Touch ID by Apple, is a new security feature that scans the owner’s fingerprints to unlock the iPhone instead of entering a PIN or an Apple ID password.
Right now the iPhone 5s Touch ID feature only works to unlock the iPhone 5s and to enter an Apple ID password for Apple purchases, and it is not compatible with third-party iPhone apps. While Touch ID is not mandatory, it is a key iPhone 5s feature that we think many users will enjoy.
Apple designed the iPhone 5s Touch ID sensor with a metal ring that surrounds the new home button. While initially thought of as a way to accentuate the new home button, Apple relies on this metal ring to detect a finger and turn the Touch ID sensor on. This is an issue for many rugged iPhone 5 cases, which completely cover the home button with rubber to maintain a waterproof seal or to deliver better protection.
If there is a layer of plastic or rubber over the iPhone 5s home button it may interfere with the Sapphire glass cover that helps focus the fingerprint for the built-in Touch ID sensor. Apple claims the new Touch ID sensor can read all of your fingerprints at any orientation thanks to the software and hardware combination, so it’s possible even cases with a clear thin cover here could pose a problem.
We are already seeing rugged case makers respond with redesigned iPhone 5s cases. The new OtterBox iPhone 5s cases no longer uses a rubber cover over the iPhone home button. There is still a built-in screen protector, which we hope OtterBox is able to quickly test with the Touch ID sensor.
We could see new iPhone 5S case designs to match this new design very soon. Many other cases are already compatible such as a collection of iPhone 5S battery cases, an iPhone 5S wireless charging case and many others. Apple also announced an official iPhone 5S case and iPhone 5S dock. Stay tuned for an iPhone 5S case roundup this week with more options.