Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Apple presents the iPhone 5C and 5S

Apple has showed its hand with the new iPhones, and everything that was expected did indeed come true. The only unexpected thing was that the iPhone 5C won't actually be a miracle "low-cost" iPhone as some said, which makes me believe its main objective is to act as a justification for people to buy the 5S.

But lets have a look of the highlights:

The iPhone 5C

The iPhone 5C, to put it plain and simple, is an iPhone 5 with a plastic cover instead of machined aluminum. There are some improvements, namely an enhanced front facing Factime HD camera, and a LTE/4G chip with "more LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world" - according to Apple.

What everyone wanted to know though, was how much it was going to cost...

In the US, the colorful iPhone 5C can be your for $99 or $199 (16/32GB) under a two year contract. But if you look at it's "unlocked" price, you'll find that it costs $549 and $649 - hardly a "low cost" device for any of those countries where people usually buy it without contracts.

Looks like Android will have a free reign for low cost devices for another year (and considering you can get a Nexus 4 for $199... it's kind of hard to justify pay three times as much for a 5C).

There also some colorful silicone cases ($29) with holes... allowing to mix and match colors. For all those that criticized other brands due to their colorful offerings... it's time to think twice about it.

The iPhone 5S

So, what about the flasgship iPhone? The iPhone 5S comes in gold, silver and slate gray. Gone it the black model we had on the previous iPhone 5 (maybe too many quality control rejections?) The slate gray/black has silver sides making it look like the old 4/4S. I'm kind of sad of seeing the black model disappear... though it may prove useful for all those wanting to sell theirs. The black iPhone 5 might become a "collectible" item.

The real big news were found on the inside. Although  we have heard Apple might jump to a 64bits ARM core, many thought it was too soon for it. Well, it wasn't. The A7 CPU is a 64bit CPU, providing nearly twice the performance of the previous A6. To fully take advantage of it Apple has prepared the new iOS7 to be fully 64bit native, and while developers will quickly recompile their apps to enjoy its benefits, it can still run regular 32bit apps.

Compared to the original iPhone, the 5S is now 40x as fast and 56x as fast in graphic performance.

But that's not all. The A5 comes with "motion coprocessor", the M7.

Like Motorola did in its Moto X, with several specialized cores for specific functions, the M7 takes charge of all the motion, accelerometers, gyroscopic, and related sensors. This means the iPhone can track motion even while its main CPU is in "low power states". Sincerely, I would hope to see a voice chip as well, allowing Siri to be always ready to answer us. But, I guess it's better than nothing.

Regarding battery life you get up to 250h standybt, and 10h talk time, LTE and Wifi browsing.


The iPhone 5S camera has also improved. And we hav to thank Apple not to follow into the Megapixel race but focus on what matters the most: providing a better image. It's 8MP is now 15% larger, with 1.5um pixels. This means each pixel can now receive more light, making it batter in low light situations.

You also get a dual tone dual LED flash. One with the regular "cold white" light, other with warmer amber tone. The iPhone can adjust both to create over one thousand possible flash color combinations in order to recreate a more realistic color reproduction..

The iOS camera app is also greatly improved... which was desperately needed considering the existing iOS6 camera app was badly behind the competition. You now get 10fps burst shots, automatic stabilization, and even high-speed 120fps HD720p video recording to create slow motion videos.

Touch ID

And last but not least, the square-less home button is indeed real and it comes with a fingerprint capacitive sensor: the Touch ID.

Now you'll be able to unlock you iPhone with a single touch, as well as buy stuff in iTunes without having t enter your password every time. I'll wait to see how it works under real life conditions, like rain, sweaty fingers, etc. Although I'm all in favor of new tech, I'm kind of skeptic as to this sensor working "flawlessly" in real life. We'll have to wait and see...

Considering a lot of people will be worried this means the NSA will have an instant database of fingerprints; Apple states that the fingerprint data is encrypted and stored on the device only, never being sent to an external server or even its own iCloud service.

That's about it... but... what about the prices?

The iPhone 5S begins at $199 for the 16GB model (I thought they would ditch the 16GB version by now), and $299 and $399 for the 32 and 64GB model - all for two year contract. Without contract get ready to pay $649, $749 and $849!

End notes

Apple has decided to keep the iPhone 4S (now free with a 2 year contract) as the entry level device, removing the iPhone 5 from its catalog. It makes sense, as the iPhone 5 wouldn't "fit" into this new iPhone arrangement, with its possible spot now being taken by the iPhone 5C.

I'm bummed that Apple decided not to have a fully black iPhone 5S. The "slate" looks like the older 4/4S generation and I don't know if I could get used to it after one year with my trusted black iPhone 5. Then again, I can't really make much sense of this pricing range.

If you're in for a contract and $99 means a lot to you, then you'll most likely choose the iPhone 4S for free. If $99 isn't that much of a deal then you'll be much better off with the iPhone 5S than the 5C - unless you really do fancy its colors. In any case, paying nearly $700 or more for an iPhone 5S is a lot harder to do since we now have the Nexus 4 starting at just $199 (and the new Nexus 5 will most likely be around $299-349).

It won't make much sense to pay twice as much to get an iPhone... Not to mention that if you do buy an iPhone 5S, you're likely to become a beta tester for its new features: the fingerprint scanner and the 64bit CPU. Developers will hurry to take advantage of it, but considering it's a new iOS and with so many new stuff, bugs are inevitable... and you may end up figuring out the iPhone 6 is about to launch by the time everything is sorted out and apps begin to use the new features (and keep in mind that developers don't even have access to the fingerprint scanner yet!)

Pre-orders start on the 13th, and the iPhone gets to the stores on the 20th in the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and UK. By the end of the year will will be available in 100 countries and over 270 carriers.

As for the iOS7, it will become publicly available on the 18th, for the iPhone 4, iPad 2, iPad mini, iPod Touch (5th gen) and later models.

After five years of yearly iPhone updated, it seems I'll finally be skipping a new iPhone. I'll use the money on new Nexus 7 and a Nexus 5, and still have some money left to buy a couple more gadgets, while keeping my iPhone 5 as well.

[photos via The Verge]

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