After months of speculation, Apple has formally announced the iPhone 5C. The tech giant confirmed the newest entry in its iPhone line of handsets at an event held at its Cupertino, California headquarters, saying that it will be “made with all the incredible technology of the iPhone 5,” but “more colorful” than before. It’ll run on iOS 7, which was announced to arrive on September 18 earlier in the day.
As expected, the device will come in a variety of colors, including green, white, pink, yellow and blue. Apple says the iPhone 5C will be made from a single part of “hard-coated polycarbonate” material on its back and sides.
Internally, the 5C is very much similar to the current iPhone 5–it comes with the same 4-inch “Retina” display, A6 processor and 8-megapixel rear camera. Apple says that the iPhone 5C will sport a new FaceTime HD camera on the front, however, and that it’ll support “more LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world.
The big expectation with the iPhone 5C was that it would be Apple’s first “budget” phones, and as anticipated, it’ll be cheaper than most new iPhone models. A 16GB version will cost $100 with a two-year contract, while a 32GB model will cost $200 with a contract. Unlocked, the 16GB and 32GB models will cost $550 and $650, respectively.
That may mean that the 5C is only “inexpensive” relative to other iPhones, but either way, it will go up for pre-order on September 13, and will become fully available on September 20 on all major US carriers. Apple is also making a range of colorful rubber cases to go along with the iPhone 5C, and they’ll cost $30 apiece.
The iPhone 5C wasn’t the only model that was anticipated today, however, and sure enough, Apple has also unveiled the proper, more iterative follow-up to the iPhone 5: the iPhone 5S. It’ll come with three choices of aluminum cases–black, silver and the widely-expected gold. And it too will sport iOS 7.
The iPhone 5S will have the same 4-inch display as its predecessor, but it’ll also run on Apple’s new, 64-bit, A7 system-on-a-chip, which the company says will make the device the “world’s first and only” smartphone to run on a 64-bit processor. Apple claims that this will make the iPhone 5S up to twice as fast as the current iPhone 5, and that it’ll double its graphical capabilities for handling more intense games and apps. Support for Open GL ES 3.0 is also onboard to improve graphics performance. At its event, the company showcased its gaming capabilities through a demo from developer Epic Games, who used the 5S to unveil the latest installment in its Infinity Blade series, Infinity Blade III.
The 5S will sport another chip dubbed the M7 as well, which Apple terms a “motion coprocessor.” That will separately and continuously monitor motion data along with info from the phone’s gyroscope, accelerometer and compass, and it’s said to help enhance health and fitness apps. As part of his presentation, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled one such health and fitness app from Nike, Nike+ Move, that will utilize the M7 processor.
Apple claims that the iPhone 5S will get up to 10 hours of battery life through video, web browsing or 3G talk time, 40 hours through music playback, and 250 hours when in standby mode. As for its camera, the company touts a new sensor that’s 15 times larger than the one on the the iPhone 5, and comes with an F/2.2 aperture. Apple says the 5S focuses on using bigger (rather than more) pixels to purportedly bring improved low-light performance and better color tones in your photos. The iPhone 5S’ camera software will now support automatic image stabilization and slow-mo video, as well as a burst shooting mode that takes 10 photos per second and lets you pick the best shot. Apple says it’ll take 720p video at 120 frames per second.
The major new feature that was widely rumored for the iPhone 5S was a fingerprint scanner, and indeed Apple will be incorporating one into the device. It’s officially called “Touch ID,” and it’s a sensor that’s built into a stainless steel ring that surrounds the now-sapphire crystal home button. Apple says this will let you unlock the iPhone 5S just by touching said home button. The company notes that Touch ID will be usable in certain apps too–for instance, you’ll now be able to use your finger to authenticate your identity when you make a purchase on iTunes, rather than having to type in your password. For the security-conscious out there, Apple states that it won’t back up your fingerprint data to iCloud or its own servers either.
Pricing for the iPhone 5S shouldn’t look too surprising: A 16GB model will start at $200 with a two-year contract, while 32GB and 64GB models will cost $300 and $400, respectively, with the same contract. Like the iPhone 5C, the iPhone 5S will get a full retail release on September 20, when it’ll arrive both in Apple stores and on Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T. Apple will be selling cases for the 5S as well (in black, blue, brown, yellow and red), which will cost $40 apiece.
Essentially, the iPhone 5C is taking the place that the iPhone 5 would traditionally have taken a year after its launch. From now on, Apple will officially sell the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C as its featured devices, and the iPhone 4S will get bumped down to $0 down with a two-year contract. Internationally, the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S will go on sale in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the UK, and, notably, China on the same day they do in the US. Additional markets will get the new iPhones in December.