If you’ve been monitoring the rumour mill in the run-up to today’s Apple event, Tim Cook and company probably didn’t reveal much that surprised you.
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Yup, the low-cost “unapologetically plastic” iPhone 5c is real, and it’s replacing the iPhone 5. As rumoured, with the 5c Apple is diverging from its typical path that sees the latest pre-event iPhone become its entry-level proposition. The iPhone 5, which Cook revealed had the most successful first year of any iPhone Apple had ever done, has reached the end of its life, or has it?
Think of the 5c as an iPhone 5 in a plastic cover. The same 4-inch Retina display is present, and so is the A6 processor. It also has the same 8-megapixel rear camera, but Apple has opted for an improved FaceTime HD camera at the front that’s designed for improved video calls and self portraits. Apple says it will still keep the 4s around as a free on-contract option.
The 5c will start at $99 on contract and $549 or $649 off. Pre-orders start on 13 September and you can get it in blue, green, pink, yellow and white.
Apple also confirmed today, the rumoured name (and one widely discussed colour option) of its new flagship device, the iPhone 5s. It has a 64-bit A7 processor (about twice the CPU and graphics performance of the iPhone 5) and it looks exactly like the leaks, complete with a fingerprint scanner — that ring around the button is just a proximity sensor, not and LED — and yes, it will come in gold. It will also be available in silver, and a new “space gray,” or slate — not black. Disappointingly, there will be no pre-orders for the 5s.
Key things revealed about the 5s during the presentation include:
- The A7 chip in the 5s makes Apple’s latest, the world’s first smartphone with 64-bit architecture. It supports OpenGL ES version 3.0, paving the way for rich and complex visual effects — think desktop-grade stuff.
- The front-facing camera has been improved with larger pixels, and backside illumination. As an aside, users will be able to do audio-only FaceTime calls with iOS 7.
- The new 8 megapixel camera on the back has True Tone flash, making photos taken with a flash appear more natural. It has a a larger f/2.2 aperture and a new, larger sensor with 1.5μ pixels for better sensitivity and low-light performances. Combined with Apple’s image signal processor in the A7’s muscle, Apple says users can expect up to two-times faster auto-focus, faster photo capture, automatic image and video stabilisation, and better dynamic range. The 5s also includes a new Burst Mode and Slo-Mo video with 120 fps.
- The 5s has a new M7 motion coprocessor that gathers data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass to offload work from the main processor for improved power efficiency. Expect improved fitness and activity apps as it allows for continuous measurements of your motion data, even when the device is asleep. It also saves battery life for pedometer or other fitness apps that use the accelerometer all day.
- iPhone 5s supports up to 13 LTE wireless bands — more than any other smartphone in the world, says Apple.
- Battery life under ideal conditions, according to Apple, is 10 hours of talk time on 3G networks, up to 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi and LTE networks and up to 8 hours on 3G networks, and up to 10 hours of video playback and up to 40 hours of audio playback.
Both the 5c and 5s, the latter of which will start at $199 with a two-year contract or $649 unlocked and contract free, launch 20 September. It’s the first time that Apple will be launching an iPhone at the start in China. Apple has also teamed up with NTT DOCOMO to offer the new iPhones in Japan on launch day.
Free iWork, iMovie, iPhoto with new iDevices
Something that Apple did manage to keep under wraps, was the news that it will be offering iWork — Pages, Numbers and Keynote — as well as iPhoto and iMovie for free with any newly purchased iPad, iPhone, or 5th-gen iPod touch.
So, where is iOS 7? The Apple faithful will have to wait until 18 September to see just how hard Cupertino is hitting back at Android.
Other quick hits
- Next month, Apple will ship the 700 millionth iOS device.
- iTunes Radio launches 18 September
- iOS 7 will come to iPhones as well as iPads when it launches
- Epic Games announced ‘Infinity Blade 3’ for iOS
- Apple announced premium leather cases for the 5s in six rich colors — beige, black, blue, brown, yellow and (RED) — with soft, colour-matched microfiber lining. Soft, matte, microfiber-lined cases to complement the iPhone 5c design was also announced. They are silicone cases with circular patterns that shows the colour backing of the 5c, making for a bunch of colour combinations.