Apple has unveiled its next generation iPhone line up, and as expected there are two successors to the iPhone 5 rather than just one. The cheaper, plastic-backed iPhone 5C combines the innards of the iPhone 5 with a choice of bright colours in a new case; the higher-end iPhone 5S, meanwhile, brings with it a major bump in power and camera capabilities, as well as a fingerprint sensor dubbed Touch ID. Apple is calling it “the most forward-thinking smartphone in the world”.
The iPhone 5c
Let’s start, as Apple did, with the 5c model. Like the iPhone 5 it is designed to replace, it features an A6 processor and an 8-megapixel iSight camera, though the front-facing camera has received a slight upgrade. The sides and back of the phone are crafted out of a single hard-coated polycarbonate shell; this shell holds a steel frame that doubles as the 5c’s multi-band antenna.
You can opt to buy a soft matte case to complement the 5c’s glossy exterior, giving you even more colour combinations to work with. The mobile itself is available in blue, green, white, yellow and pink, and the cases are available in white, pink, yellow, blue, green and black. At 124.4mm x 59.2mm x 8.97mm it’s slighter higher, wider and thinner than the iPhone 5 (123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm). It’s also a touch heavier — 132g rather than 112g.
You can think of the 5c as an iPhone 5 with a number of minor tweaks, and while early speculation suggested the “c” in the new iPhone’s name stood for “cheap”, this hasn’t proved to be the case: the 16GB will set you back £469 SIM-free while the 32GB model costs £549 SIM-free. The official cases shown off at the Apple event are available for £25 apiece. Of course, mobile operators will set their own price levels when the phones are bundled with contracts.
The iPhone 5s
On then to the real star of Apple’s press conference, the iPhone 5s. Apple’s Phil Schiller emphasised three main points during his presentation: the phone’s powerful internal components, its upgraded camera and the fingerprint sensor named Touch ID.
The 5s is powered by an all-new 64-bit A7 processor — the first 64-bit CPU to be seen in a consumer phone — and Apple is promising twice the speed and graphics performance of the iPhone 5. There’s also something completely new: the M7 motion coprocessor that gathers data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass built into the phone. Among other tricks, the M7 chip can tell when you’re walking, running or driving a car, and you can expect to see this functionality used by a wealth of health and fitness apps in the coming months and years. In terms of size and weight, the 5s matches the 5 exactly, and it looks almost identical too.
Much is being made of the new and improved camera built into the 5s. Like its predecessor it produces 8-megapixel snaps, but Apple has improved the lens and internal components for better sensitivity and improved low-light performance. There’s a larger aperture, a larger sensor and a two-tone LED flash capable of 1,000 varying combinations, so turning on your phone’s flash won’t distort the colours in the scene you’re shooting. There’s also an integrated burst mode that can take a series of photos and present you with the best one almost instantaneously. Video capabilities have been improved too, with the 5s capable of shooting HD 720p video at a slow-motion rate of 120 frames-per-second.
Finally, Apple introduced Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor technology built into the iPhone 5s’s Home button. You can use your unique fingerprint to unlock the phone and buy apps from iTunes — the company is promising this data will be encrypted and remain on your handset. It can recognise fingerprints from any angle and can distinguish between you trying to scan your finger and pressing the button as normal.
The 16GB iPhone 5s costs the same as the 32GB iPhone 5c — £549. You can get the 32GB model for £629 and the 64GB model for £709 (all SIM-free). Three colours are available — grey, gold and silver — and again there is an official line of cases on offer for £35 each — beige, black, blue, brown, yellow and red are the choices here. Apple claimed a battery life that’s slightly better than the iPhone 5 for both the 5c and 5s, so it would seem you might still be running out of juice after a full day of normal usage.
And The Rest
The iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s will come with iOS7 already installed, and the operating system was shown off again at the iPhone launch event. If you’re not familiar with its new features, they include improved search, better notifications, a more comprehensive Siri app, enhanced multi-tasking as well as a radical new look and much more besides. The software will be pushed out to consumers on the 18th of September. What’s more, anyone buying a new iOS7 device will get the iWork suite of apps (that’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote) as well as iPhoto and iMovie free of charge.
There was also mention of the iTunes Festival, now in its seventh year. Featuring the likes of Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, the event will cover 30 nights of live music in London and will again be live-streamed to more than 100 countries.
Both iPhones can be pre-ordered on the 13th of September and officially go on sale in the UK a week later on the 20th. It will be some time before we know how well Apple’s latest hardware performs against the likes of Samsung, Nokia and the rest of the industry. Are you planning to get in line for a 5c or a 5s? Or does the latest iPhone leave you cold? Let us know in the comments.