It’s that time of year again when consumers go crazy for new iPhones and analysts and tech pundits bicker over whether the newest release is “innovative enough” in the face of strengthened competition.
As has been the case in previous years, much of today’s announcement has already been leaked. Over the past few months, we’ve seen images of both the new iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C. And in June, we got our first glimpse of the operating system that the new hardware will power: iOS 7. IOS 7 marks the first drastic departure from the original “iPhone Operating System” software that we saw with the introduction of the original iPhone way back in 2007, and it will available to the public on September 18.
Today, all the pieces are coming together and we can finally see Apple’s new iPhones in the flesh. The first new model is the iPhone 5C, which is a polycarbonate-bodied smartphone available in green, white, blue, pink, and yellow (now the rainbow of colors in the iOS 7 UI make sense). According to Jony Ive, the “iPhone 5C is beautifully, unapologetically plastic.”
The colorful plastic backing is a one-piece design that wraps all the way around the device and up to the glass touchscreen. It also has a reinforced steel frame to give a further feeling of solidity. When it comes to hardware, this is basically last year’s iPhone 5, which means an A6 processor, 4” Retina display, and an 8MP rear-facing camera. However, it does add support for 100Mbps LTE.
Apple’s “Soft-feel silicon rubber” case for the iPhone 5C will cost $39
The iPhone 5C will be priced at $99 for the 16GB model and $199 for the 32GB model — both of course with new, two-year contracts.
But the star of the show, of course, is the new iPhone 5S. While not nearly as colorful as its cheaper iPhone 5C sibling, the iPhone 5S will be available in Silver, Gold, and Space Grey. The phone features a new A7 processor, which is the first 64-bit chip used in a smartphone. The new chip has 2 general purpose registers, 2 coating point registers, and over a billion transistors (102mm2 die size). It also supports OpenGL ES 3.0. Naturally, iOS 7 was rebuilt to support the 64-bit architecture of the A7.
Apple’s native Apps have been recompiled for 64-bit operation and developers can start producing their own 64-bit apps with XCode. When all is said and done, the iPhone 5S will be twice as fast in CPU operations and twice as fast in GPU operations compared to the outgoing iPhone 5.
To be used in conjunction with the A7 is the new M7 motion coprocessor. It provides accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass functionality and works in conjunction with the new CoreMotion API to open up enable the next generation of health and fitness apps.
When it comes to battery life, Apple promises 10 hours of LTE browsing or 10 hours of 3G talk. Standby time is listed at 250 hours.
The camera is a new unit with a five-element lens and F2.2 aperture. It also has a 15 percent larger active sensor. It also has a new dual-LED flash system which promises to produce better skin tones. Other features include automatic image stabilization, 10 FPS burst mode, and a 120 FPS slow motion feature (720p at 120 FPS).
The iPhone 5S gets its own $39 case as well
Perhaps the biggest new feature of the iPhone 5S, however, is the new “Touch ID” fingerprint sensor. The sensor is 170 microns thin and has a 550ppi resolution to read sub-epidermal skin layers. The sensor of course is integrated into the smartphone’s Home button. Unlocking your phone is now as simple as touching your finger to the home button (multiple fingerprints are supported). Your fingerprint can also be used to verify your identity to purchase apps instead of entering your password.
Thankfully, the fingerprint data is only store on the device, and is never uploaded to Apple’s servers (it won’t even be backed up to iCloud).
The iPhone 5S will be available in 16GB 32GB, and 64GB versions for $199, $299, and $399 respectively with a new, two-year contract. Pre-orders for the iPhone 5C will open up on September 12 with the official launch taking place on September 20.
For anyone that cares, the iPhone 4S is still sticking around in 8GB guise for free on contract. The iPhone 5 is D – E – A – D.
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