iPhone 5S, 5C Won't Help Apple Regain Mobile Market Mojo

NEWS ANALYSIS: The new iPhones Apple introduced Sept. 10 show some important improvements, but they aren't necessarily the improvements the market wants to see.

Apple's Sept. 10 announcement of the latest version of the iPhone was based on specifications and performance rather than significant new features, which was a fairly unusual thing for Apple.

Normally the company avoids the war of specifications and instead tries to trump the competition with cool new features that the others can't match. This time, though, it was specifications—probably because that's all that Apple has to point to.

The much-anticipated Apple iPhone 5C and 5S don't bring much that's significantly new to the table. The iPhone 5S has the same display, the same apps and the same amount of memory as its predecessor. While there are improvements, not all of them will be important to users.

The big news for the iPhone 5 product line is that the original iPhone 5 is being discontinued. Unlike previous generations of the iPhone, this time the old model won't be available at a lower price. Instead, the iPhone 4S will be the low cost leader. The iPhone 5C takes over as the mid-priced option with its polycarbonate case of many colors. The iPhone 5S takes over as the flagship model.

There's some news beyond that. The 5S gets a better wireless radio and a faster 64-bit processor. In addition, you'll be able to get it in gold. The 5C has a better wireless radio. The iPhones will be delivered with iOS 7, but most other Apple mobile devices will also get this when Apple releases the operating system Sept. 18. The 5C can be pre-ordered on Friday, Sept. 13, an auspicious day if ever there was one. Apple will actually ship both iPhones on Sept. 20.

So what do you get with the new iPhone that you don't have already? Beyond the improved processor on the 5S, you get a better camera, which remains at 8 megapixels, but with an improved lens and better software. The most significant news for business users is that the 5S will come with a fingerprint sensor overlay on the home button.

The good news regarding the fingerprint sensor is that it will store the fingerprint data in the A7 processor and not in iCloud. The bad news is that this apparently means that only iOS 7 can use the fingerprint reader. Apps that may benefit from the improved security won't have access to it. While it's possible the Touch ID software that runs the sensor can have an interface that will work with apps, Apple hasn't said that this is the case. Rather Apple emphasized that only Touch ID can use the sensor and that only iOS talks to Touch ID.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...