Apple has just unveiled its refreshed 2013 iPhone line up with the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S. The iPhone 5C is its mid-spec iPhone in a colourful polycarbonate body while the iPhone 5S is an incremental update of the current iPhone 5.
At first glance, Apple doesn’t seem bow down to pressure of upsizing its display as both models retain the same 4″ Retina display found on the iPhone 5 & 5th gen iPod Touch. However iPhone 5S has taken a different approach when it comes to performance and there’s a little surprise for device security.
Head after the break as we go deeper on the 2 new models.
Targeting at the youth segment and following its success of its colourful iPods, the iPhone 5C is a colourful alternative for the current iPhone 5. Internally packs the same hardware with a 4″ Retina Display doing 1136×640 pixels resolution, dual-core A6 processor and the same 8MP camera.
Instead of an aluminium body, the iPhone 5C uses a glossy polycarbonate shell that comes with a choice of 5 colours – White, Pink, Yellow, Blue & Green. If the 5 colours isn’t enough, there’s also a wide range of colour cases that comes with laser cut holes at the back.
Dimension wise, the iPhone 5C is bulkier and heavier than the iPhone 5 with a thickness of 8.97mm and 132 grams in weight. However it is still marginally thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S which is 9.3mm thick and 140 grams heavy. In terms of storage, the iPhone 5C comes in 16GB and 32GB options and also supports a wide spectrum of LTE bands including Band 3 (1800MHz) and 7 (2600MHz).
Next of course is its new flagship iPhone 5S. The design is unchanged from the current iPhone 5 with the use of aluminium while maintaining a slim 7.6mm thickness and has the same 112 grams weight. The surprising new addition is a Gold colour model that’s rather bling. As usual, there’s the standard Black and White colours which are now renamed to Space Grey & Silver respectively for a more accurate colour representation.
The 3 key areas of improvement are processor performance, imaging and security. For improved performance, Apple refused to join the bandwagon of increasing its cores this time around. Instead they have went on a different path of using a A7 chip that’s based on 64-bit architecture. This is unheard of, making it the first ever smart phone to have a 64-bit processor that’s paired with iOS 7 that’s also 64-bit compatible. Apple mentions that this would offer up to 40X faster but without making any reference of comparison.
Like computers, the 64-bit processor capability is best harnessed when running with 64-bit apps. So now it all depends on how fast developers would release a 64-bit version of their apps. It would be interesting to see how this pans out in real life usage performance versus the typical 32-bit apps running on Quad or even Octa-Core processors.
Alongside the A7 chip is a smaller M7 co-processor which is dedicated to motion sensors such as accelerator, gyroscope and compass functions. This opens up the iPhone to a more health and fitness applications in a more power efficient manner without drawing too much power from its main processor. This means the iPhone 5S would be constantly aware of your movement and it could tell whether you are driving or walking.
Next is imaging and Apple had sang a familiar tune of pixel size which is similar to HTC One’s Ultrapixel camera. The iPhone 5S main shooter has a bigger pixel size of 1.5 micron which is more than the iPhone 5/Lumia 925’s 1.4 micron but smaller than HTC One’s 2.0 micron. A bigger pixel size allows more light to come in which translates to better pictures especially in low light. For those who are particular about photo resolution, the iPhone 5S still maintains the same 8MP. Over at the front camera, taking self shot photos is now better with a much bigger 1.9 micron pixel size from its 1.2MP shooter.
Along with the new camera software enhancements from iOS 7, the iPhone 5S is also capable of taking burst shots of 10 fps and also comes with image stabilisation as well. For flash photography, has dual LED flash set up which Apple calls True Tone flash. This basically consists of 2 different LED colours – White & Yellow and automatically balances between the 2 to ensure a natural skin tone colour. For action videos, you can also shoots up to 120 fps videos with built-in slow-motion feature at HD 720p resolution.
The next new thing on the iPhone 5S is security. There’s so many ways to secure a device and some are easily fooled with a just a picture. If you noticed from the promo photos, the iPhone 5S comes with a redesigned home button that’s different from its predecessor. Behind that clean design is a biometric scanner called Touch ID which scans your fingerprint even in various orientation. The surface of the scanner is covered with sapphire crystal and the metal ring around it activates the scanner when a finger is touching it.
The iPhone 5S isn’t the first smart phone to have a fingerprint scanner and we’ve seen it on the Motorola Atrix 2 years back. However Apple’s Touch ID implementation on the iPhone 5S is much more natural and discreet. On the plus side, it works naturally like pressing a button and you won’t need to do a typical swipe motion. With fingerprint being a high level of security, Touch ID is the probably the most secured phone lock and the quickest to unlock right now, provided it worked as advertised. With our experience with biometric scanners on laptops, it can be finicky to set up at times and we can’t wait to try this out on the iPhone 5S ourselves.
The announcement didn’t come as a surprise and merely confirms the leaks which had surfaced weeks ahead of launch. The iPhone 5C which was initially speculated as an entry level device turns out more of a colourful plastic version of the current iPhone 5 that’s like a mid-high end model. This would be more appealing for those that prefer a personalised touch of colour like what we’ve seen in Nokia’s range of Lumia smart phones.
The iPhone 5S is an incremental upgrade which is expected like its former iPhone 3GS and 4S. The key difference lies on its upgraded processor, better camera with emphasis on bigger pixel size and a new Touch ID which is a unique approach to smart phone security.
If you’re an existing iPhone 5 user, the incremental changes may not be significant enough to make a switch unless of course you’re into the very latest and would appreciate the need of greater speed and improved imaging. For everything else, the new features of the latest iOS 7 will be making its way to existing iPhone 5 pretty soon in a form of an update.
With immediate effect, the iPhone 5 has been discontinued after a year since its announcement. At least it had a year of sales time compared to the short-lived 7 month old iPad 3. For now, the iPhone 4S 8GB still remains the low entry iPhone with the price tag of RM1,499.
This time around, the first countries getting the latest iPhones on 20th September will be the US, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the UK. For the rest of us, hopefully we will be among the 100 countries which will Apple targets to roll out before the end of 2013. Last year, the iPhone 5 was announced on 12th September and it was officially available in Malaysia on 14th December. Let’s hope Apple can do better this year.
In terms of price, it is unlikely they will change anything in Malaysia with the iPhone 5S going for RM2,199 for 16GB followed by RM2,499 for 32GB and RM2,799 for 64GB storage capacity. Looking at the pricing from the first wave countries, we reckon that the iPhone 5C would probably priced about RM1,899 for the 16GB and RM2,199 for the 32GB model.
If you can’t wait, you can head your way to Singapore on 19th September or get a friend to pre-order a unit online this Friday the 13th. With the lower value of Malaysian Ringgit right now, getting a 16GB iPhone 5S from Singapore would cost you about RM2,553 (S$988). That’s the price of a 32GB model once it is available here.