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By 11 September 2013 | Categories: news

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After months of rumour and speculation, Apple finally revealed its new generation iPhones during a media event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. The 5s is the successor to the iPhone 5 (review), whilst the other is Apple’s first stab at the midrange market segment, courtesy of its iPhone 5c.  

Does s stand for super or same?

As with the progression from the iPhone 4 (review) to the 4S (review), the 5S packs the same design and size as the 5, except for the fact that it now comes in three colours (gold and white, silver and white, or black and grey) as opposed to just two (slate and silver).

Below the gracefully ageing exterior of the iPhone 5s resides a new A7 SoC (system-on-a-chip), which Apple claims is the world’s first 64-bit processor in a smartphone. Despite the fact that Cupertino did not disclose the amount of cores or processing speed, the company asserts that the new CPU delivers up to twice the processing performance compared to the A6 chip used in the iPhone 5 and around two times the graphics performance.

The smartphone operates on iOS 7 bringing a host of new features to Cupertino’s mobile devices including support for OpenGL ES version 3.0, which Google also now supports within Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.

Motion processing and Touch ID

In another nod to Google, the iPhone 5s also sports an M7 motion coprocessor, which is similar to the dedicated motion processor incorporated in Motorola’s Moto X smartphone. This motion co-CPU works with the smartphone’s accelerometer, gyroscope and compass and is used for gesture and motion processing for apps such as fitness applications.

One feature setting the new iPhone apart from other smartphones is Touch ID, which has the home button integrating a highly sensitive fingerprint scanner, allowing users to unlock their device with just the touch of a finger. Touch ID can also be used as a secure way to approve purchases from the iTunes Store, Apple App Store or iBooks Store, liberating the users from the need to enter their password in order to purchase an app or game.

Apple stated that a user’s fingerprint information is encrypted and stored securely in the Secure Enclave inside the A7 CPU and is never backed up onto Apple servers or iCloud, meaning it remains on your personal device alone.  

Enhanced optics

Cupertino introduces a new 8 megapixel iSight camera on the iPhone 5s which boasts a larger f/2.2 aperture plus a larger sensor for better sensitivity and low-light performance. The company also employs a new image signal processor in the A7 chip to enable up to two-times quicker auto-focus, faster photo capture, automatic image and video stabilisation.

Also onboard the camera is Apple’s new True Tone flash, which is a dual LED that the company says can variably adjusts colour and intensity, resulting in more than a 1000 combinations, enabling the photo to be captured in what appears to be a more natural looking lightsource.

The iPhone 5s includes a new 1.2 MP FaceTime HD front-facing camera that will apparently deliver better low-light performance; Burst Mode (has been available on Android devices for a while already); audio-only FaceTime calls within iOS 7; as well as Slo-Mo video recorded at 120 fps.

Does c stand for cheaper?

Beyond the new 5s, Apple also unveiled its new 5c smartphone, which boasts a very Nokia Lumia inspired design thanks to its hard-coated polycarbonate body. The iPhone 5c will be available in five colours, namely blue, green, pink, yellow and white. Despite being constructed out of plastic with a reinforced steel frame, this smartphone is thicker (8.97 mm vs 7.6 mm) and heavier (132 g vs 112 g) when compared to the iPhone 5s and 5.

Apple, smartphone, mobile OS, iOS 7, mobile platform, Apple iPhone range, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S

Apple’s iPhone 5c is powered by the same A6 processor doing duty in the iPhone 5 and packs a 4" (1136 x 640; 326 ppi) Retina display (as does the iPhone 5s) and 8 megapixel iSight camera. In addition, the iOS 7 operating smartphone also features LTE (4G) connectivity, with Apple claiming that the device supports more LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world.

To the point

Apple said that the iPhone 5s and 5c will be available in the US, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK on 20 September. No South African release info or prices are available yet.

Cupertino seems to be keeping things incredibly conservative and safe with these two new smartphones. Its rivals have begun to surpass the company in terms of optics (Nokia), display sizes, resolutions and barely-there bezels (Samsung and LG), as well as processing power and memory.

Apple’s venture into the mid-range segment with its $99 5s should get a number of investors smiling, but one of the things that has us most excited about the new iPhones is not the smartphones themselves, but iOS 7. It looks like it will revolutionise the iOS user experience and will be available as a free software update as of 18 September for iPhone 4 and up, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini as well as iPod touch (fifth generation).

In other smartphone related news, Sony Mobile Communications recently announced its new flagship smartphone, the Xperia Z1, whilst Samsung lifted the lid on the Galaxy Note 3 phablet.

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