Apple has revealed its much-anticipated iPhone 5S and 5C devices, marking the first time the company has launched two smartphones simultaneously, as it responds to an increasingly competitive global handset market.
Watch this video from the Daily Telegraph showing highlights from the launch event below:
The colourful 5C device was the biggest surprise at the launch event, as the much anticipated plastic-coated ‘budget’ device was priced at $736 (£469), making it only slightly cheaper than high-end smartphones.
‘Gold standard in smartphones’
The biggest new features of the flagship iPhone 5S device are a fingerprint-reading security sensor built into the home button and a 64-bit processing chip, meaning it works faster.
The 5S, dubbed the “gold standard in smartphones” by Apple, is also the first iPhone to come in a ‘champagne’ colour in addition to the customary black and white, and Apple have boosted the camera, flash and battery slightly.
Speaking at the launch event, Philip Schiller, Apple marketing executive, said: “iPhone 5S is the most forward-thinking smartphone in the world, delivering desktop class architecture in the palm of your hand.”
The fingertip scanner – named Touch ID – is built into the home button and uses a laser cut sapphire crystal along with a sensor to take a high-resolution image of a user’s fingerprint.
According to Apple, the technology can “intelligently analyse” the print to provide accurate readings from any angle.
To calm privacy fears, all fingerprint information is encrypted and the firm has insisted it will never be stored on Apple servers.
Beyond unlocking the phone, the feature can be used as a secure way to approve purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store or iBooks Store, Apple said.
It has promised customers that all actions on the device would be faster than on previous handsets, from launching apps and editing photos to playing graphic-intensive games.
The phone will be available in the UK for a suggested retail price of £549 for the 16GB model, £629 for the 32GB model and £709 for the 64GB model.
iPhone 5C- Appeal to Chinese market?
Meanwhile the 5C is billed as “more fun” than any iPhone yet, available in a range of five colours – blue, white, pink, yellow and green.
The firm’s chief Tim Cook promised the cheaper iPhone 5C would come with “all the great technology that customers have loved” on its previous models – but analysts said it was “nowhere near” as cheap as some had predicted.
In the US, the 16GB version will cost $US99 ($A108) and the 32GB version $US199 with a two-year plan.
The device is designed to attract buyers in China who currently favour cheaper android smartphones. However, the phone is still far more pricey than alternative models. The iPhone 5S in China will cost 5,288 RMB (£549) according to Apple’s China website.
In a survey on Chinese portal Sina.com.cn, 88.4% of those polled said the price for the iPhone 5C was too high. Only 2.6% said they would buy one.
New iOS 7 operating system
Apple have said that iPhone 5C pre-orders start on September 13. iPhone 5C and 5S will go on sale a week later in Australia, the US, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK.
The company also says its next mobile operating system, iOS 7, will be available as a free download on September 18.
Craig Federighi, head of software at Apple, said at the same event that ‘downloading iOS 7 is like getting an all new device.’
The new system can be downloaded on the iPhone 4 and later models, as well as on tablets beginning with the iPad 2.
Commenting on the new launch, Tony Cripps, principal device analyst at Ovum, said: “Even post-Jobs Apple still does great theatre, even if most of what was announced was unusually well-heralded in the blogosphere.
“Clearly there’s little need for gimmicks in the flagship 5S, in a launch replete with significant spec upgrades over and beyond the usual screen improvements. Apple, is certainly offering meaningful innovation here. Moving to a 64-bit architecture means Apple can genuinely claim to have brought something new to the smartphone party. It should certainly help the company further cement its lead as a mobile gaming platform and will give the Android fraternity something to think about in a space whose significance is sometimes downplayed beyond the gaming world.
“Ingratiating itself to the burgeoning community of health and fitness application developers with new sensors is also a good move by Apple at a time when consumer and professional interest in those categories are booming.
“Meanwhile the integrated capacitive fingerprint sensor will build legitimacy for the technology in mainstream consumer electronics, although privacy concerns are bound to raise their heads in these newly paranoid times.
“Anyone expecting Apple to come truly down market with the iPhone 5C was fooling themselves. The day that happens is the day the company signals that it has run out of headroom for expansion. It’s far from ready to concede that yet as it’s greater interest in Japan and China show, although the mooted tie up with China Mobile wasn’t announced as this comment was written.
“It does though indicate an acceptance that the consumers in the upper reaches of the smartphone mid-market are increasingly looking to distinctive devices of their own, and are not happy to accept cast offs or dumbed-down versions of former flagships.
“Colour variations and a clear design of its own is a good way to do this and clearly Apple isn’t too proud to follow its smartphone rivals in using this tactic. This change hasn’t affected Apple too much to date but would have represented a threat if the company hadn’t addressed the problem now – its once a year refresh can sometimes work against it.”
Ronald Klingebiel, Assistant Professor of Strategy at Warwick Business School, who has consulted and researched the telecoms industry for more than a decade, commented: “The new iPhones are innovative, but they are still iPhones. Strategically, the direction seems unchanged. The lower-end iPhone is to address price competition in an increasingly commoditizing market, but the likes of Lenovo and ZTE achieve sufficient quality at much lower cost.
“At the upper end, the business model is about to change. There is a chance that the majority of value capture, which had migrated from the handset to the combination of OS and app store, will move on to apps themselves, reducing the cut for middle men. New entrants are gearing up to prise open the tight lock between handsets, operating systems, and app stores: Sailfish, Ubuntu, Firefox, and even Tizen offer next-generation operating systems that support the trend towards interoperable html-based apps. This could lead to an unbundling of the industry value chain and reduce Apple’s possibility to extract value from the iOS-app store nexus.”