It's perfectly reasonable to assume that anyone thinking about buying a new iPhone when the latest devices hit retail on Friday would fixate on the hardware itself, especially with Apple trotting out two new models.
Apple is unleashing colorful handsets called the iPhone 5c, priced at $99 to start with a contract. And a brand new $199-on-up flagship phone, the iPhone 5s, brings with it beefy 64-bit computing power , a souped-up camera and the feature most people are pointing to, the Touch ID fingerprint reader.
But the biggest change to come to the iPhone arrives with iOS 7, the operating system at the heart of the newest handsets. As of Wednesday, it can also be downloaded to freshen up the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the now discontinued iPhone 5 as well as some iPads and the iPod Touch.
Taken in totality, the features new to the iPhone 5s make what I consider to be the best smartphone on the market even better, helped enormously by Apple owning the entire end-to-end experience. In my view, iOS is still simpler to use than Android , and made even simpler in iOS 7. Apple releases the new operating system for all of its phones at one time, while Android updates come to devices in a more scattered fashion. And Apple still claims the most apps.
That said, I highly regard many of Apple's Android and Windows Phone rivals. Nor am I blind to what Apple didn't do and the fact that the company is playing catch-up with some features. It would have been nice, for example, for Apple to include stereo speakers like those found on the latest HTC One rather than the mono speakers in the new devices. The truth is, folks mostly listen through headphones or external speakers.
I'm a little more disappointed that Apple stuck to a 4-inch Retina display when many Android competitors offer 5-inch displays or larger. Sure, there are trade-offs with larger screens, but since Apple has already bolstered consumer choice with two new iPhones, would a third model have been that much of a stretch?
Of that second new model, the iPhone 5c may have a cheap price, relatively speaking, but there is nothing cheap about the phone. Plastic be damned -- the phone feels good in the hand. Apple says it is built around a steel frame that doubles as an antenna. And, yes, the color designs -- my test unit is blue -- look cool, too, complemented by matching wallpaper. Apple didn't cheap out on the inside, either, though the tech improvements in the 5c are fairly modest -- better high-definition FaceTime camera, bigger battery , more LTE wireless options. (continued...)
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