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The iPhone 5S/5C Announcement: What You Expected, But Pretty Cool Nonetheless


iPhone. Yep. Let’s get some stuff out of the way right out of the box:

Yeah, your Android/Windows Phone/BlackBerry/Symbian/Palm OS/tin cans and string could do it all a year ago/two years ago/ten years ago/in Jurassic times.

I know, Tim Cook’s no Steve Jobs/Phil Schiller/John Sculley/Steve Ballmer/Chip Kelly.

Doesn’t matter. People care about the iPhone. I do. So let’s look at what they announced, after, naturally, they got through the parts nobody cares about, like the iTunes Festival (Lady Gaga… whatever) and retail expansion (new, larger Stanford store! Wow!).

iOS 7: Everything we saw in the developer versions — notifications screen, control panel, search from home screen, improved Siri (with more Lady Gaga, in a Siri-generated Twitter search. You can say “What’s Perry Michael Simon saying on Twitter?” and Siri will respond “who cares?” No, it’ll give you my tweets. Whoop-de-damn-do), improved camera app with built-in effects and optional square aspect ratio (how Instagrammy), a new Photos app replacing the camera roll with groups of pictures by location and “moment”, iTunes Radio (Daft Punk, not Lady Gaga, is the first demo, followed by Rush — Rush?; it’s very Pandora-ish). Release: September 18th, free, for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini, 5th generation iPod Touch.

iWork: Whatever. They’ve had the iCloud version in beta for a while now; I’ve used it. Not bad. But now, the apps are free for any new iOS device. Pages, Numbers, iMovie, iPhoto, and Keynote.

iPhone: As we knew, two new versions, 5S and 5C. Premium and cheaper. First, the 5C, the cheaper version that comes in colors. (Surprise: Phil Schiller said that the leaks of pictures of the phone were “cool.” That’s not Apple!) Colors: Green, white, blue, red, yellow. Polycarbonate back reinforced with steel, glass front, buttons match the back colors. Custom cases available to show off colors through seven rows of circular cutouts (five in each row, kind of like a cheese grater) and let you mix colors. 3x video zoom, improved front-facing FaceTime HD camera. LTE, 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 and 5 GHz, Bluetooth, iOS 7. The important news: $99 for 16GB, $199 for 32GB under contract. Cases are $29. Jony Ive calls it “beautifully, unapologetically plastic.”

5S: Okay, here’s what’s new. Yes, it comes in “champagne” (gold-ish). silver, and “space grey,” whatever that is, with aluminum back Yes, it has a new capacitive home button, no square on it, silver ring. A7 chip, and, yes, it’s the first 64-bit mobile phone, though it’ll run 32-bit apps. They say it’s up to two times faster. Open GL/ES 3.0, with a demo from Epic Games used to show how that will make gaming better on this one — a demo of Infinity Blade 3, which might draw a chuckle and groan from anyone who remembers a previous Apple iPad keynote that showed off an Infinity Blade version we never saw again after that. But this time, they say the game will be available right along with the 5S release, so take that. New additional chip: the M7, a motion co-processor, for the accelerometer, gyro, and compass, continuously measures motion data without waking up the phone for health and fitness apps. Well, that IS the big thing now, judging by all the folks who wear FuelBands and FitBits and stuff, and how much buzz there is about the iWatch. Battery life: 10 hours 3G talk, 8 hours 3G browsing, 10 hours LTE or Wi-Fi browsing, 1o hours video, 40 hours music, 250 hours standby, which is about what they claim for the iPhone 5 and which I will believe when I see it.

More: Camera: 15% larger sensor, new lens. Bigger pixels. App has automatic white balance and exposure adjustment when you open the app. “True Tone Flash.” Auto image stabilization. Takes multiple shots all at once and picks the best to show you. Burst mode at 10 fps while your finger’s on the shutter. Slow mo video at 120 fps. Demos of squirrels, jellyfish, and children.

Still more: Security, and, yes, there’s the fingerprint reader. “Touch ID.” Knew this was coming, too. It has 550 ppi resolution, scans sub-epidermal skin layers. And you can use the thumbprint to buy stuff, too, for iTunes purchases and Apple Store purchases. Of note: your fingerprint won’t be stored on Apple’s servers, just in the phone in a deeply hidden place.

5S Price: 16GB $199. 32GB $299, 64GB $399 with two-year contract. New leather cases in several mostly pastel-ish colors for $39, but you can’t see the back color through them. (The 4S remains in the lineup in its 8 GB version, free on contract).

5C pre-order date on Friday the 13th. 5C and 5S hit retail on September 20th in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, and Singapore. (No pre-ordering the 5S? You gotta be KIDDING me. I don’t do queues, and I won’t be home for that. Not fair, Apple, not fair) Closing musical guest: Elvis Costello. The end.

And there it is. You buying? Comment below or harangue me on Twitter.

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  1. Nate says:

    CJ –
    I’m not going to argue that these iPhones are particularly exciting, because they’re not, but I have to make a couple points . . .

    a) Supposedly the fingerprint info is not stored in the cloud or broadcast to Apple servers in any way. It is stored on the individual phone. They could be lying, of course, but I would assume that hackers could figure that out pretty quickly once they get their hands on actual phones.

    b) They would never have announced a new iPad at this event, and would be unlikely to announce a new ‘Pod or MacBook, because that’s “too many things” for the way Apple operates. They do a few of these every year, and like to space things out. I’m pretty sure that everyone is expecting another iPad release before the holidays.

    c) With its heavier style of construction, I think that a 5″ screen iPhone could end up freakishly heavy and unwieldy for a phone. There’s probably a market for it, but I think most people are pretty happy with the 5/5S/5C size.

  2. CJ says:

    iBoring – you’d think by now after finally offering a 4G LTE smart phone in 2012; that Apple would finally have an iPhone with a 4.7 – 5 inch screen size in 2013 (along with a map app that actually functions properly (lol) ….

    It’s very amusing to note those Android Smart Phones from HTC – LG – SAMSUNG surpass the iPhone (I will give Apple credit for staging a day to remind their Cult Consumers to spend $ upgrading to a new iPhone 1st, then download that free updated IOS 7 software) ….

    Let’s have a round of applause for that iTouch ID (which basically gives the NSA your fucking finger print!), because you know Apple has to find a way to recoup that $400 million dollars it spent purchasing the Company which developed this feature (what better way to recoup that cost? why offer an iPhone with hardly anything new beyond a different colour alloy metal, or a cheaper model made out of polymer plastic) ….

    No new Macbook, or iPad, or iPod (I guess Apple should spend more $ and time with research and development)

  3. T_ says:

    Android forever! you can have your iPhones and Siri…I’ll stick with a big screen, superior sound and a more intuitive OS.

  4. RobinInSeoul says:

    Yeah, I’m happy with my 5, won’t be upgrading for the foreseeable future. However, a new OS is always fun.

  5. mark says:

    The 5c is just an iPhone 5 with a cheap plastic backing rebranded and sold as a “new” product. The cost of manufacturing is probably lower too. Thus apple make more money and consumers get a cheaper built product than just getting and iPhone 5 (which they discontinued for this reason). Not mention the phone is still more than $550 without a contract. Insanity.

  6. Adam S. says:

    Since I don’t have an iPhone yet, whenever I finally have the budget to get one I’ll get whatever the newest one is, if it’s the 5S then fine, if it’s the iPhone 39 (the way things seem to be going) that’ll be fine, too.

  7. Pierre Savoie says:

    Write more in English sentences next time.

  8. Charlotte says:

    I took a gamble and upgraded recently to the HTC One after having been stuck in an iPhone ghetto for many years. And after today’s announcements, I sure as all hell don’t regret it. It is categorically the best phone I have ever owned.

  9. Paula says:

    How much does it cost to purchase them outright in the US? I just checked the Australian Apple website and died – the “cheaper” 5c is still more than I paid for my 4s!
    Here the 5S starts from $869 and the 5C starts from $739.

  10. John says:

    I have an old iPhone so I’ll be upgrading.

  11. -Di. says:

    I’m content with the 5. I’m really looking forward to iOS 7.

  12. greyfavorite says:

    Am I the only one who finds the size of these phones to be too large? I am pretty happy with my (old as dirt, slightly cracked) 4, but it’s already too big to one-hand. Granted, I have small hands! But I keep wishing they would release three sizes – Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. I would probably buy Baby Bear.

  13. Chris says:

    5S is going to be my gateway drug into the Apple community. I’ve been on droid for so long and the 4.2.1 OS with so many bugs, it’s just time for me to try something new. Samsung is driving the droid market, but it’s fluff-ware.

  14. Shayde says:

    Nice turn into the cheap-ass-android market with the 5C. Now there’s no excuse of not being able to afford an iPhone and settling on a droid.

  15. Soal says:

    Yes, I have a iPhone 4 that is older than dirt that needs to be replaced. I am way more excited about this version than the last two updates. this will be my second smart phone (not counting my early addition widows HTC peace of Sh*t)

  16. Futurehero says:

    My 4S is still kicking, and with buying an Xbox one, I’ll probably wait till next year to pick up the 5S.

  17. JetpackBlues says:

    Nope. I’ll wait for the next one.

    Those custom cases for the 5C… glad I’m only mildly Triphobic!

  18. Jenn says:

    Nope. I’m good with the 5