Apple announced the new iPhone products today and the pre-release rumors were mostly correct. Here is a quickie summary of the key features.
The iPhone 5S is the primary replacement for the current iPhone 5. It is the same size (4-inch screen) as the last model but sports some interesting new characteristics. First it comes in three colors, silver, gold and space grey. The case is anodized aluminum. New leather cases are also available for $39.
Inside, a new A7 processor replaces the A6. The A7 is a 64-bit processor making the 5S the first smartphone to include a 64-bit CPU. The A7 doubles the CPU performance making it super for graphics and especially games. The main concern here is will the battery life be less with a 64-bit processor. Apple says projected battery life is estimated to be the same as the current iPhone 5 which is in the 10 hour range for most activities. The A7 is accompanied by the M7 co-processor that offloads the A7 to support motion processing for the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass sensors. Look for some new apps using the improved motion features.
A big upgrade is to the camera. Called iSight, the camera has the same resolution at 8 Mpixels but the sensor chip is larger and the pixels are larger to greatly improve sensitivity and low light performance. A new larger f/2.2 aperture lens is also incorporated. The new True Tone flash senses the color component of the scene and adjusts the flash lighting color to the optimum shade. A 120 fps feature gives the video slow motion capability. A burst-mode is also incorporated.
Another key feature is the fingerprint reader called Touch ID. It uses the owner’s finger print to unlock the phone. The reader is integral to the main home button, a new capacitive sensor with a sapphire lens. This feature certainly provides security but I can imagine there could be problems in accessing the phone. Just wait for the complaints on this one.
The 5S will have the same pricing as the iPhone 5 with $199 for the 16GB model with a contract. 32GB ($299) and 64GB ($399) models are also available. You can buy the phone on September 20th and it will be available through AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.
The newest model is the 5C, a lower cost version to service the mass market in the U.S. and other countries including China. It features a polycarbonate (plastic) case in five colors including blue, peach, yellow, red and black. It is the same size as the current iPhone 5. New multicolor cases are available for $29.
The 5C uses the A6 processor and the same iSight camera as the iPhone 5S. And there is no fingerprint reader on this model.
The 5C is available from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon for $99 with 16GB. A 32GB models is also available at $199. You can buy as early as September 20th.
Incidentally, both the 5S and 5C are fully LTE 4G capable and come with the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n. No 802.11ac yet. NFC is not included as predicted.
The current iPhone 5 model is dropped completely, however, the 8GB iPhone 4S is still available free with a new two year contract.
Incidentally, the most impressive thing about the new 5C/5S models is the new OS called iOS 7. It was introduced in June. The new user interface gives the phone a whole new look with different icons and operating procedures. Features include a Control Center, a Notification Center, improved multitasking, AirDrop, enhanced Photos, Safari and Siri. Apple also introduces iRadio a free Internet radio service based on the music you listen to in iTunes. If you have an iPhone 4S or 5 model you can also down load iOS 7 from iTunes to update your phone. The iOS 7 also works on the iPad and iPod Touch.
Overall today’s announcements are exciting but not earth shattering as many Apple users were expecting. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the lack of a larger screen to compete with Samsung, Motorola, HTC and others with 4+ inch screens. No doubt the larger screen will be on the iPhone 6. For now, there are enough enhancements and new features to please most potential buyers.