As expected, Apple unveiled two new iPhones on Tuesday. The iPhone 5s runs the A7 chipset and 64-bit software, making it twice as fast as the iPhone 5. And the 5c, which chief designer Jony Ive called "unapologetically plastic," will have a starting price of $99 for the 16 GB model, with a two-year cellular plan.
Both models come in a range of colors, and both retain the 4-inch screen introduced with the iPhone 5. The 5s in silver, gold and "space gray," and the 5C in blue, green, red, yellow and white.
Long rumored, a new fingerprint sensor -- Touch ID -- was also introduced as part of the Home Button on the 5s, so that purchases on iTunes can be authenticated via a fingerprint. It can also be used to unlock an iPhone. For those worried about fingerprint theft, Apple said the print will be encrypted and not made available to anyone on the outside. The company also said the print will not be shared with other software, and is not backed up on iCloud.
The 5s, an upgrade to the iPhone 5, also has an M7 "motion coprocessor" chip that utilizes sensors without bothering the main processor too much, so that sensor-based apps, such as ones for health, can keep functioning without draining performance. Also available on the 5s is an 8-megapixel camera with larger optics and a larger sensor, which Apple says will result in better-quality images. A "True Tone" flash can adapt more readily to lighting conditions, burst mode takes images at 10 frames per second, and a 120-frame-per-second video mode provides slow motion.
The 5c offers an 8-megapixel camera, an HD FaceTime camera, 4G LTE and Bluetooth 4.0.
The company also highlighted new features in iOS 7, including image-sharing functions, stereophonic ringtones, device-to-device file sharing, a new photo manager, and iTunes radio. Apple said that iOS 7 will be available free of charge on Sept. 18 for new iPhones, iPods and iPads, and the Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto and iMovie will also be free for any new iPad, fifth-generation iPod Touch or iPhone.
Maturation of the Product Line
The variations in the new models reflect a maturation of the iPhone product line and the huge diversity available with competing Android-based smartphones, compelling Apple to go beyond its usual one-new-iPhone-per-year release pattern. Apple's iPhone business now represents about half the company's revenue, so keeping up with the competition is essential. However, Apple does run a risk of cannibalizing its more expensive models, but at least it would be the one doing the cannibalizing.
With the 5c, Apple is moving to shore up its position on the lower end, which is vulnerable because of the many, less expensive but powerful smartphones out there now. Additionally, the company is expected to make the 5c available in the world's largest smartphone market, China, as part of an anticipated distribution deal with China Mobile.