“In the past, when we introduced a new iPhone, we lowered the price of the old iPhone,” said Cook at today’s announcement. “This year, we’re not going to do that. This year, we’re going to replace the iPhone 5, with not one, but two new designs.” Thus confirming rumors of two new devices.
First up is the iPhone 5C, available in five colors — green, white, blue, yellow, pink — with “beautifully, unapologetically plastic” shells, as opposed to the metal builds of previous iPhones.
The 5C has a 4″ Retina display, the same processor and 8 megapixel rear-facing camera as the iPhone 5, a larger battery, and an improved front-facing camera. Apple claims it supports more LTE networks than any other phone on the market.
In terms of price, the 5C is being targeted to bargain-seekers (relatively speaking), starting at $99 for the 16GB version and $199 for the 32GB. Those, of course, are the prices for the phones with two-year service contracts. No word on the full retail price you’d pay.
Then there is the 5S, which Apple humbly dubbed, “perhaps the most forward-thinking phone anyone has ever made,” stopping just short of saying it will cure cancer and end famine.
As predicted by various media outlets, the 5S will come in three metallic tones — Silver, Gold, and something dubbed “Space Gray” — but the actual metals are not gold or silver or anything mined from Mars, just high-grade aluminum.
The 5S will have a new A7 processor, the first time a 64-bit chip has been used in a smartphone. Apple claims graphics can be up to 56 times faster. The company also says developers will be able to easily upgrade apps to 64-bit, but that the 5S will continue running all the current 32-bit apps.
In an onstage demo, Epic Games showed off the third installment of Infinity Blade, saying the game runs five times faster on the 5S than it did on the iPhone 5, and that converting the game to 64-bit only took a few hours to do, whereas it’s normally a labor-intensive process.
The iPhone 5S also has, via an M7 motion coprocessor, advanced motion detection, allowing for better use of the device’s accelerometer.
In terms of battery life, Apple claims the 5S gets about 10 hours of talk time, and 10 hours of browsing over an LTE network or WiFi, and 40 hours of music time. Apple says the device should last about 250 hours in standby mode.
The camera on the 5S has a larger sensor area and a wider aperture, allowing for more detail and better images in low-light conditions. It also contains a flash with two LEDs allowing for flashes that range from the cool, bluish white of fluorescent lights to the softer amber tones of incandescent lights. That should help to cut down on the photos that are ruined because the flash doesn’t in any way match the lighting of the room.
The new burst mode of the camera takes 10 images per second and automatically picks what it believes is the best of the bunch.
A new slo-mo feature allows users to shoot 720p HD video at 120 frames per second.
The improved panorama function adjusts image exposure as you move your camera, so one end of your photo isn’t pitch black while the other is completely washed out.
As predicted, the 5S will introduce a Touch ID fingerprint sensor that can replace numerical passcodes for locking your device. The sensor is integrated into the Home button on the phone and should work in any orientation, so you don’t have to worry about whether your thumb is at the correct angle or not.
The uses of Touch ID go beyond just securing the phone. The tech can be used to authenticate in-app purchases, which means no more trying (and possibly failing, repeatedly) to remember your iTunes password.
Touch ID can be set up to read multiple users’ fingerprints, so your family could share your phone, but it would remain locked to a thief (unless that thief is also your kid; hey, it happens). Apple says stored fingerprint data is encrypted so it can’t be easily stolen by hackers. The fingerprint data remains on the phone and is never uploaded to any servers, claims the company, nor is it made available to any other software.
The pricing for the iPhone 5S is obviously higher than the 5C, with the 16GB version going for $199, 32GB for $299, and 64GB for $399. Again, these are all prices based on signing a new two-year contract with a wireless provider.
Preorders for the 5C will start Sept. 13, with a Sept. 20 street date in the U.S.
Customers can begin ordering the 5S starting Sept. 20.
For true value-seekers, the iPhone 4S will continue to be made available and it will be free with a two-year service contract.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Apple presentation if they didn’t spend most of the time talking about tangential things, like how the new iOS 7 operating system will have improved search, a smarter Siri (she can search through Tweets, because that is sadly something that people do a lot of these days), and a multitasking interface that looks an awful lot like what Google Now currently provides. There is also something called AirDrop, that allows you to share items wirelessly with other iOS 7 users within your immediate area.
The new iOS will be launched Sept. 18 for iPhones 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad Mini, and fifth generation iPod Touches.