Tuesday, September 10, 2013

As rumored: iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S introduced at Apple press event

Apple's Sept. 10 iPhone event has come and gone, and here is what the Cupertino, Calif.-based giant had to say.

The first part of the event, though (aside from Apple's typical clapping itself on the back) involved iOS 7. The company recapped the changes that had been discussed at this year's WWDC. The most interesting tidbit was the release date: All eligible devices will have access on Sept. 18.

For once, Apple took almost no time to introduce the new iPhone. Just about 20 minutes into the event, Apple spoke lovingly of the iPhone 5, but then said goodbye to it. As analysts had expected, with the new lower cost device, there is no need to keep the iPhone 5 around any longer.

Instead, there are two new iPhones (no surprise here). The first, is the direct replacement for the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5C. C, of course, stands for color. Apple's SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller, even acknowledged the numerous leaks, saying "That's cool."

Aside from the fact that the iPhone 5C will come in five colors (Green, grey, light blue, peach-ish, and yellow), Apple's design team has created a line of custom covers, which are silicon with a microfiber lining. They too, are colored, with cutouts toward the bottom. Once could imagine these covers add to the color permutations for the device.

The iPhone 5C will sport 4-inch display, like the iPhone 5, and an A6 chip, also like the iPhone 5. The battery is larger than in the iPhone 5, but the 8-megapixel iSight camera, with the five-element lens and IR filter are as seen on the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5C will come in two storage tiers. The 16GB model will be priced at $99, just as Apple used to do with its year-old iPhones. The 32GB will go for $199. These are on-contract, of course.

Next is the biggie: the iPhone 5S. Tim Cook, back onstage at this point, said that it was:
The most forward-thinking phone we've ever created.
Forward thinking or not, Apple confirmed the champagne gold color, along with silver and space grey.

As rumored, the expected A7 processor (or system-on-a-chip (SOC)) is 64-bit. Apple called it a "desktop-class architecture," with twice as many general-purpose registers, twice as many floating point registers, and over a billion transistors. It fits on a 102mm squared die size, about the same size as the A6.

According to a chart Apple put up, the iPhone 5S has 56x the performance of the original iPhone. It runs Open GL/ES 3.0 for gaming, which is a very big deal. As Apple said:
This will enable breakthroughs in performance for graphics-intensive games.
There's more than that, though. Apple has added what it calls an M7 chip. It is a motion co-processor that offloads accelerometer, gyro, and compass data from the A7.

Schiller said the new M7 would enable a "whole new level" of fitness apps, with the CoreMotion API in iOS 7 being updated to characterize data, so developers will know if you are walking, riding or driving.

All this performance, what about battery life. Schiller said:
Equal or greater than the iPhone 5 had.
Apple said the phone will have 10 hours of 3G talk time, 10 hours of LTE browsing, 10 hours of video.

Apple has also improved the 5S' camera. It has a new, fuve-element, Apple-designed lens with f/2.2 aperture and a 15 percent larger sensor. Schiller added,
When you do take a picture, unbeknownst to you it actually takes multiple pictures.
The iPhone 5S picks the sharpest image and gives you that one.

The iPhone 5S has a new True-tone flash, which apparently analyzes light levels and use the proper color flash. On the other hand, Apple went on to claim its camera was SLR level, which drew immediate boos from some photographers we know.

As rumored / leaked earlier, the iPhone 5S can capture HD 720p video at 120 fps for slow motion video work. An end user can then can go in and select which portions of the video to run in normal speed, and which parts in slow-motion.

Finally, the fingerprint reader. It is embedded in the new capacitive Home button. It's called Touch ID. It's not just for unlocking the phone, either. It can be used for iTunes purchases, too.

All this is priced the same as the iPhone 5. And the 4S before it. And the (you get the idea). 16GB at $199. 32GB at $299 and 64GB at $399, all on-contract.

The all-important release and pre-order dates are as follows:

Sept. 13: iPhone 5C
Sept. 20: iPhone 5C and 5S available in stores.

That's right, there appears to be no pre-ordering of the 5S. Big news, at launch it will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the U.K. This is the first time that the iPhone launches on Day One in China.

That was it (sans an Elvis Costello performance). The question is, did Apple hit it out of the park, or was the iPhone 5S just so-so?

A slideshow of images can be seen here.



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