Apple, as anticipated, introduced two new iPhones—the colorful iPhone 5C and a flagship iPhone 5S—at a Sept. 10 press event on its Cupertino, Calif., campus.
Both phones will be available Sept. 20, and the iPhone 5C can be preordered starting Sept. 13.
The iPhone 5C, again as expected, looks nearly identical to the iPhone 5, but its housing is a “hard-coated polycarbonate”—hard plastic, to you and me—that will come in five colors: happy, children’s-birthday-party-shades of green, white, blue, pink and yellow. Apple has made wallpapers and details within iOS 7, the operating system both phones run, to match the new exterior colors.
Apple, like its rivals, has focused on camera technology. The 5C will get a new Facetime HD camera, an 8-megapixel rear camera with improved “backside illumination” and a “five-element lens.” IOS 7 also enables users to easily move between camera lenses by simply swiping on the display.
The iPhone 5C was also given a slightly larger battery and improved power efficiency, though it runs the same processor as the current iPhone 5 (Apple’s A6 processor).
The 5C will run on more Long-Term Evolution (LTE) bands than any other smartphone in the world—and while it will be available in China the same day as in the United States (another first), there was no mention of whether that will include China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier and China’s only top-tier carrier not yet to sell an iPhone.
For those around the world without the budget for the iPhone 5S, Apple basically repainted the house (in the nicest way), put up some new curtains and updated the appliances. Or, as Apple design guru Jony Ive put it, “It’s remarkable when something feels familiar and yet is new at the same time. That’s the iPhone 5C.”
A 16GB model will sell for $99 with a two-year purchase, and a 32GB model will sell for $199. New rubber cases with circles cut out to show off the color of the phone will be priced at $29.
The Apple iPhone 5S
As for the iPhone 5S, it, too, is everything that indiscreet sources have led us to look forward to.
It’s made of a “high-grade aluminum with chamfered edges” and will come in silver gray and, yes, gold.
It runs a new chip, the A7. It’s a 64-bit chip, which is a world-first on a smartphone. Apple showed off a graphics performance chart that nudged upward slowly from its first iPhone through the iPhone 4, took a jump with the iPhone 4S, a leap with the iPhone 5 and skyrocketed with the 5S.
The iPhone 5S’s CPU and graphics are each twice as fast as the iPhone 5, while the CPU is 40 times faster than the original iPhone.
To continue on the issue of speed for a moment, the iPhone 5S also runs OpenGL ES 3.0, which translates to: If you’re a gamer, you’re psyched. Infinity Blade III will be available alongside the iPhone 5S, which Apple promises will be a gaming experience like no other.
Further, the 5S features a new part, a motion coprocessor, called the M7, which continually measures motion and will enable a new generation of health- and fitness-related apps. (Among the latter will be a new Nike+ Move app.)
Apple iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C Official, With Sept. 20 Availability
All this new energy goodness also means improved battery life. The 5S will last through 10 hours of 3G talk time, 10 hours of LTE browsing and 40 hours of music playback.
Another area of major improvement—in a device that, in form, looks like its predecessor—is the camera. It has a lens with an f/2.2 aperture and a 15 percent larger active sensor area, and includes automatic white-balance adjustment, a “local tone map” that adjusts exposure levels for truer colors, a new autofocus meter and a new flash, called True Tone.
As many Android users do now, iPhone users will be able to hold down the shutter and snap 10 frames per second, for as long as their fingers keep pressing. The phone offers its opinion on the best shot, though users can keep as many as they’d like.
And while that’s great for fast action, for those moments when you want to slow things down, the 5S can grab 120 frames per second, for a slow-motion replay. The new camera can also shoot 28-megapixel panoramic shots.
iPhone 5S Is New Security Go-To
Finally (and, again, as expected) the iPhone 5S has a Touch ID fingerprint-reader solution built into the home button. It’s 170 microns thin, and has a resolution of 500 pixels per inch, 360-degree readability and scans the sub-epidermal skin layers of users’ fingers. (It can read multiple fingerprints.) A user will be able to make an iTunes purchase, for example, using her finger to authenticate her identity.
Given how few people use a passcode on their phones, this is a potentially brilliant solution; given recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s spying practices, though, it may also be a deeply distrusted one.
Apple, addressing concerns, promised that fingerprint information is never uploaded to Apple servers or backed up to iCloud.
Also a must to mention is that Siri, like the rest of the iPhone, has gotten smarter, and can now also draw information from Twitter. Apple’s cheeky hands-free assistant will also be available in a man’s voice.
“This is our most forward-thinking iPhone yet,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.
The iPhone 5S will come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models for, respectively $199, $299 and $399, with two-year service contracts.
On Sept. 20, the phones will arrive in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France Germany, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom, and reach a total of more than 100 countries by December.
Did Apple do enough to justify the full year between its iPhone announcements? Ovum analyst Tony Cripps said it did.
“There’s little need for gimmicks in the flagship 5S, in a launch replete with significant spec upgrades over and beyond the usual screen improvement,” Cripps wrote in a note shortly after the event ended.
“Moving to a 64-bit architecture means Apple can genuinely claim to have brought something new to the smartphone party,” he continued, adding that the fingerprint sensor will “build legitimacy” for the technology in mainstream electronics, the health-and-fitness angle will greatly work to Apple’s advantage and the newest iPhone will help “cement” Apple’s lead as a mobile gaming platform.
CEO Tim Cook, smiling at the close of the event—and before introducing special musical guest Elvis Costello—remarked, “These iPhones are packed with remarkable technology [and] we’ve done it in a way that makes it matter to people.”