If one was completely disconnected from the tech media in recent months (perhaps even quarters), new units could likely come as a surprise. Other than that, even Apple folks admitted that ?some may already know? what the event was about – and with a chuckle. This is the time Apple decided not to lower the prices of the ?older iPhone? units ? but to fork the iPhone 5 into two new devices, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s.
The former is exactly what rumors have suggested ? a repacked and a slightly polished iPhone 5 in a colorful plastic case. Apple finds this feature as a proper way to those who will get introduced with the equally vibrant iOS 7 platform. Innards consist of the already known A6 chip, identical camera unit as the one on iPhone 5, and a somewhat more powerful battery unit.
iPhone 5c units paired with the official silicone protective cases
The iPhone 5s is what company calls a ?forward thinking? smartphone, and while the unit itself appears to look quite a lot like the iPhone 5, there are some slight differences that give it away. Rear side shows the new dual-colored dual-LED flash unit which is capable of producing ?more natural photos? even with flash. Front side shows a slightly different Home button with an integrated Touch ID sensor, but more on that later. iPhone 5s comes in three colors ? and only the white variant is familiar. Other two are space gray and gold (champagne like).
iPhone 5s comes in two new color variants while dropping the black
5s sports the newly developed A7 SoC, which according to the company, takes the world of 64-bit computing onto smartphones ? with iPhone 5s being the first of its kind. Truly, this is the world?s first consumer chip using the 64-bit architecture, and it contains over 1 billion transistors on a 102mm2 die size. Apple claims that the chip is up to twice as fast at CPU tasks, and with up to 2x better graphics performance than what is found on the iPhone 5 ? all while keeping the battery life same or even better than before. It is not difficult to expect the similar silicon (perhaps even more powerful) to appear in the next-gen iPad(s).
Additionally, Apple stuffed a separate chip named the M7 inside the iPhone 5s. It continuously monitors sensors on the smartphone, which in turn enables ?a new generation of health and fitness apps.? Beyond that, it even ?knows? when the user is in a moving vehicle, and will stop asking to connect to the Wi-Fi networks it is able to detect.
While camera sensor still holds the 8MP flag, it is of a slightly larger physical size than before (15% up), with pixels measuring 1.5 µm. Lens is also upgraded to an f/2.2 variant (from f/2.4). Unit is capable of recording 120fps 720p video, and the special burst mode (10fps) is enabled ? with the A7 chip working in real-time to ?choose? the best image without saving the whole lot.
Newly designed Home button contains the Touch ID sensor
Now, Home button hides the 170 microns-thin fingerprint reader (500ppi resolution), which enables much more than unlocking the unit. It can be used for secure authentications (purchases) and it might also be able to manage user?s Apple ID info. As Apple notes, fingerprint info is encrypted and stored on the A7 chip, and the info itself never gets stored on the cloud. Enterprise users could see the potential benefits here, though regular consumers may see uses through 3rd party apps in time.
Apple stock actually went down as the event progressed. Shareholders were likely worried that the pricing of the iPhone 5c was not suitable enough. We are still talking about a 16GB unit that costs $549 unlocked, which is merely $50 of difference when compared to the unlocked HTC One, for instance. Two-year subscription plan pricing is somewhat expected at $99, and the iPhone 5s inherits the pricing of the iPhone 5.
Ecosystem-wise, the iOS 7 is expected to be ready by September 18, and perhaps what?s even more important ? Apple has decided to give productivity apps Keynote, Pages, Numbers, iPhoto and iMovie for free to all of the new iOS device owners. By September 20, both iPhone 5c and 5s should be available in the US, Australia, Canada, China, Singapore, France, Germany, Japan and UK. Rest of the world will meet the new devices by December.