On 10th September 2013 Apple ended months of speculation over the next iPhone revealing an update on the iPhone 5 in the form of the 5S and a new colourful “budget” range in the 5C. These phones went on sale on Friday, 20th September with the now de rigueur queues of Apple fan boys and girls keen to get their hands on a shiny new toy and the mass uploading of unboxing videos on YouTube thereafter. Also, this is the first year that the iPhone will be released China instead of later making it a truly worldwide release. Looks like Apple is intent on clawing some more market share for themselves in China where it is estimated to be at around 9% whereas in the UK it is at around 30%. I still remember the curious looks I received when visiting Hong Kong with an iPhone 4S before it was released in that region. Similarly, I was very surprised that Apple released their products later in China considering that from my own personal experience Hong Kong residents are very heavy mobile/smart phone users.
So, what’s new?
The 5S looks and feels similar to the 5 however the edges have now been “chamfered” meaning a smoother, less sharp feel to the edge of the phone and is therefore more pleasant to hold. It is a subtle difference but one that is noticed when using the phone for any significant amount of time.
Internally, the 5S boasts the new dual core 64 bit A7 processor and M7 motion coprocessor which Apple claims will make the 5S up to twice as fast as the A6 presently in the 5. Consumers should expect not only a fast phone but also fast graphics. Indeed, AnandTech, the go-to chip review site, has confirmed that the new A7 chip outperforms its quad core competitors found in many Android phones. This certainly proves more is not always better. The question now is whether the A7 will keep up with the anticipated advances in graphics and heavier use of processing power as apps become more sophisticated over time before the next processor update.
For those who use their phone extensively for pictures and videos Apple has introduced improvements to their camera sensors. The result being improved pixel size and aperture however the resolution is unchanged from the 5 staying at 8 megapixel. The increased aperture should mean better vibrancy and low light performance. This, together with the new True Tone flash adjusting the hue and brightness of the flash preventing over saturated or blown out photographs will give an improvement on the quality of photographs overall. The addition of “burst mode” is certainly welcome when faced with moving objects. Video is available at 720p HD with an option of slow motion video.
Now, on to the much vaunted TouchID fingerprint security system meaning users are no longer required to enter a password or PIN to access their phone. This has already caused speculation on legal rights (namely 5th Amendment rights in the USA) as well as no small amount of jokes about losing one’s finger or thumb when their iPhone 5S is stolen. There is no argument this is a winner in terms of convenience of not having to type in a four digit PIN or longer password to access your phone potentially saving you time. Also, for security and identifying purposes nothing can be more unique than a fingerprint. On a darker note, what should happen if you cannot “prove” your identity by way of a fingerprint? Phone reset? If so, let’s hope one is in the habit of keep their phone regularly backed up is all I am saying.
The 5S comes in gold, silver or space grey (grey for the rest of us). This is certainly a welcome departure from the previous choices of black or white.
What about the 5C?
The 5C has been released as a cheaper alternative to potentially lure in customers who cannot afford or justify the cost of buying an iPhone. It is encased in plastic rather than the more luxurious anodised aluminium body and contains similar hardware as the 5 but with expanded LTE support and improved front camera meaning better low light photographs and videos.
The plastic casing is far from flimsy and the phone feels sturdy in hand dispelling any reservations I had of dropping the phone and the plastic cover shattering off. It also comes in a range of bright colours – blue, green, pink, yellow and white with separate protective covers that can be bought with peek-a-boo holes allowing for a contrasting look. I can certainly see these phones being attractive to the teenage crowd.
The 5S will cost £549 for the 16GB model, £629 for the 32GB model and £709 for the 64GB model.
It is also available on contract with various mobile phone carriers at various levels of upfront fee.
The 5C will cost £469 for the 16GB model and £549 for the 32GB model.
It is also available on contract with various mobile phone carriers with no upfront fee.
I was surprised at the sturdiness of the 5C and despite that it is essentially an iPhone 5 in a different casing it has enough improvements to warrant choosing the 5C over the 5 if you are not put off by the bright colours (which will probably be covered by a protective case anyway) and are not bothered by the fact the casing is plastic rather than aluminium.
The 5S, whilst outwardly pretty much the same as the 5, has some very attractive features going for it inside. Personally, I’m a fan of luxury metal casings and would prefer the 5S but definitely would not sneer at the 5C which can hold its own against its big brothers.
As with anything, choice is very much a personal one whether it be the 5S, 5C or a completely different brand of phone.
Whilst the 5S and 5C are nothing new and revolutionary in the eyes of the general public I have no doubt that Apple fan boys and girls over the world will still be delighted with their purchases.