Apple iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S now official: a few surprises in both hardware and software

By on September 10, 2013, 1:00 PM
apple, iphone, ios 7, iphone 5s, event, iphone 5c

Apple on Tuesday unveiled two new iPhones during a special presentation held at the company’s campus in Cupertino, California. As rumors leading up to the event correctly speculated, the iPhone 5S will be Apple’s flagship handset for the coming year while a budget model known as the iPhone 5C will cater to cost-conscious buyers after the same iOS experience.

The iPhone 5C will be a direct replacement for the iPhone 5 and is made with all the technology of that device. Specifications include a 4-inch Retina display with full sRGB and an integrated touch layer, the same A6 processor found in the iPhone 5, an 8-megapixel rear iSight camera with BSI sensor, hybrid IR filter and 5-element lens, a new front-facing FaceTime HD camera with better low light support, dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, a higher capacity battery and support for more LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world.

The shell is constructed of a hard-coated polycarbonate material with a reinforced steel structure inside for extra strength. The back and sides are built from a single part so there will be no visible seams, part lines or joints. It’ll be available in green, white, blue, pink and yellow priced at $99 for the 16GB model and $199 for the 32GB variant – both with a two year service agreement. Off-contract pricing is said to be $549 and $649, respectively.

The iPhone 5S, meanwhile, is powered by a first-of-its-kind 64-bit A7 processor. Apple says this chip offers two times the amount of general purpose registers, double the number of floating point registers and over 1 billion transistors in a 100 square mm die size. The chip, which runs OpenGL ES 3.0, is said to be backwards compatible with 32-bit applications. Overall, Apple claims it is twice as fast as the A6 found in the iPhone 5 in terms of CPU and GPU performance and up to 40 times faster than the original iPhone in terms of CPU performance and 56 times as fast on the graphical side.

Alongside the A7 is a new motion co-processor called M7 that continuously measures data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass. This helps enable a new generation of health and fitness apps.

Another key feature of the new flagship is the camera. It consists of a 5-element, f/2.2 aperture lens with a 15 percent larger sensor surface area. The new camera app can automatically adjust white balance and exposure while creating a dynamic local tone map. It can also perform autofocus matrix metering and will auto select the sharpest of a series of photos.

You may have noticed the dual flash setup in leaked images leading up to today’s event. This is something Apple calls True Tone which is said to solve the problem of clashing color temperatures (think skin tones, etc.). Elsewhere we find auto image stabilization and a 10 frame per second burst mode.

As for video recording, the new camera captures HD video at 720p at 120FPS and can also perform slow motion at 120FPS. Panorama photos pack 28-megapixels with the ability to adjust exposure levels automatically as you pan.

Security is also paramount on the iPhone 5S with the inclusion of a fingerprint reader dubbed Touch ID. The 170 microns thin sensor is built right into the sapphire-coated Home button and scans the sub-epidermal skin layers at 500 PPI resolution. It features 360-degree readability meaning it can scan your finger (or fingers, as it supports multiple digits) from any orientation.

It’s not just for unlocking your phone, however, as Touch ID is deeply integrated into iOS 7. For example, you can now use your fingerprint to authenticate iTunes purchases without having to enter your password every time you buy something.

Battery life on the iPhone 5S is rated for 10 hours of 3G talk time, LTE browsing, Wi-Fi browsing and video. 3G browsing clocks in at eight hours while music will play for 40 hours. The phone should last for up to 250 hours in standby, we’re told.

The iPhone 5S retains the same pricing as the current iPhone 5: $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB variant and $399 if you want a 64GB unit. The 8GB iPhone 4 will linger around for another year as Apple’s free offering (with a two-year contract).

The iPhone 5C and 5S will be available for pre-order starting this Friday, September 13, through all four major wireless providers in the US. Handsets will launch a week later on September 20 in the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK. They will be available in 100 countries and on 270 carriers by the end of the year.

iOS 7 will be available for download free of charge starting September 18 for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and iPod touch (5th generation). iPhoto, iMovie, Keynote, Pages and Numbers are free on the App Store for qualifying iOS 7 compatible devices activated after September 1, 2013.

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