Another year, another iPhone. Actually this year we got two new iPhones. The iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C will both be available from the 20th of September. The new premium flagship is the iPhone 5S, whereas the iPhone 5C is a colourful, plastic alternative that’s a little more affordable. They’ll both be running iOS 7 out of the gate, and the new platform will be made available for older iPhones starting next week.
There were no real surprises at Apple’s event, such is the detailed nature of rumour-mongering and leaks in the tech world today, but new iPhone models are always big news. So, what’s worth noting about these new smartphones?
There are three key features worth noting about the iPhone 5S, which is physically, almost identical to the iPhone 5.
It has an A7 processor which is the first 64-bit chip in a smartphone. In simple terms it’s very fast, like twice as fast as the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5S will be able to run more demanding apps and games and it will probably do everything faster than the majority of the current competition (Samsung has already announced its intention to use a 64-bit processor in its next big smartphone release).
The camera has been overhauled. Instead of upping the megapixel count Apple has made the sensor larger, bigger pixels means better quality pictures. There’s also a dual flash which can balance the colour temperature to get skin tones just right. Then there’s auto image stabilization and a few other new features including a burst mode and a slow motion video option.
The home button now encompasses Touch ID, which allows you to unlock your iPhone with your fingerprint. No more PIN or pattern to unlock just use your thumb or finger. It can also be used as security to make purchases on your iPhone. Apple has been quick to try and ease privacy concerns by pointing out that it doesn’t store actual images of your fingerprints and the encrypted data it does store is only ever stored locally on the device.
The other feature worthy of note is the M7 motion processor, which is designed to track the motion of the iPhone through its various sensors and should be an instant boost for fitness apps, though there will no doubt be other potential uses uncovered by app developers.
The iPhone 5S is not cheap. We’re talking £550 for the SIM-free 16GB version, but you can expect the usual array of contract deals. As well as the classic white or black, it’s also available in what can only be described as gaudy gold.
Speculation about a budget iPhone has been rife for months now, but the C doesn’t really stand for cheap. The SIM-free 16GB version of the iPhone 5C costs £469. In terms of specs it is almost inseparable from the iPhone 5. There’s a slightly larger battery in the 5C, more LTE band support, and a slightly improved front-facing camera for video calls, or FaceTime as Apple calls it. All the rest of the hardware, from the screen, through the processor, to the main camera is exactly the same.
The big difference with the iPhone 5C is the polycarbonate body which comes in white, red, yellow, blue, or green. That’s right, the C stands for colour. If that wasn’t bright enough for you, then you can opt for one of the Apple cases with circular cut-outs designed to create a colour contrast, or course they’re not cheap either at £25 a pop.
If you’re wondering why the iPhone 5C is so similar to the iPhone 5, it’s because it’s effectively replacing it. The iPhone 5 doesn’t get the usual price drop that accompanies a new model; instead it’s being retired altogether. If you really want a cheap iPhone then you’ll buy an old one second-hand, even the iPhone 4S costs £350 for the 8GB model.
Every year expectations go through the roof and what we get is a slight improvement on last year’s model. Of course that won’t stop the iPhone selling like hot cakes. The fingerprint sensor and that new processor definitely make the iPhone 5S an interesting prospect, but not in gold. The appeal of the iPhone 5C is a little harder to fathom. Research presumably revealed a thirst for pastel colours, and it seems to go well with the bright and colourful, new look iOS 7. We’ll just have to wait and see how popular it proves to be.