Apple today announced two new iPhones—5s and 5c—along with the new features and official release date of iOS 7.
The high-end release of the new iPhones, the 5s is the first 64-bit smartphone ever, thanks to its new A7 chip. The 64-bit architecture has a new, modern instruction set with twice the general-purpose registers and floating-point registers of the iPhone 5, along with more than 1 billion transistors.
The iPhone 5s will be available Friday for pre-order, and Sept. 20 for purchase. Its battery life packs 10 hours of 3G talk time and 10 hours of LTE browsing. The new iPhone runs OpenGL ES 3.0, like the new Nexus 7, for gaming. A chart during the presentation showed a 40x CPU performance bump and 56x faster graphics. The gaming capabilities were tested with a demo of Epic Games’ Infinity Blade 3.
Available in silver, gold and a new “space gray” color, the iPhone 5s is “the most forward-thinking of our devices,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. “Today, we’re going to see that Apple will move the mobile computing world from 32-bit to 64-bit in one day.”
The A7 chip is the base for the most groundbreaking features of the iPhone 5s, starting with the long-rumored Touch ID: a fingerprint sensor built into the Home button.
The sensor is 170 microns thin, senses 500ppi, and can scan sub-epidermal skin layers. The home button can read multiple fingerprints from any orientation, and is made of laser-cut sapphire crystal surrounded by a stainless steel detection ring. It removes the need to swipe the phone to activate it.
“Every time you use it, it gets better at reading your prints,” Schiller said. “Your fingerprint is one of the best passwords in the world.”
More importantly, for cyber security’s sake, all fingerprint data is encrypted and locked in the A7 chip, never stored on Apple’s servers or in iCloud.
Another iPhone 5s feature made possible by the A7 chip is its M7 motion coprocessor, which seems to be Apple’s answer to Android and Samsung’s smartwatches.
The M7 continuously measures motion data, accelerometer and gestural data, opening up what Schiller called a “whole new generation of health and fitness applications.”
Apple has been working with Nike to test the M7, building an app that counts strides and movements throughout the day. Developers will be able to access it, and Nike is providing a new app called Nike+ Move that measures if the user is stationary, walking, driving, etc.
The last highlighted feature is a new camera system: a new, “five-element Apple-designed lens” with an F2.2 aperture. The sensor has a 15% larger active area.
The new camera system sets light balance and exposure, creating a dynamic local tone map around the image. When taking a picture, the camera automatically takes multiple pictures and picks the sharpest one.
Other new features include a “true-tone flash,” a burst mode for shooting 10 frames per second, and a slow-motion feature.
The iPhone 5s is priced at US$199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB under standard 2-year contracts. Multi-colored cases cost $39.
The rumors are true: the iPhone 5c is essentially the same technology as the iPhone 5, with colorful plastic cases instead of metallic ones. They come in a variety of custom cases made of silicone rubber. It comes in blue, white, red, yellow and green.
iOS 7 for the iPhone 5c comes equipped with wallpapers to match the phone’s color.
The iPhone 5c has a 4-inch retina display, widescreen video and integrated touch, plus an A6 processor and a slightly larger battery than the iPhone 5. It has an 8MP camera on the rear, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and support for more LTE bands than any other smartphone. There’s also a new FaceTime HD camera on the front, larger pixels, and backside illumination.
In a promotional video, Apple senior vice president of design Jonathan Ive said the “iPhone 5c is beautifully, unapologetically plastic. It’s quite remarkable when something feels familiar and yet is new at the same time. That’s the iPhone 5c.”
The iPhone 5c is priced at $99 for 16GB and $199 for 32GB, plus a $21 case.
iOS 7 will be released for free on Sept. 18 with 64-bit compatibility for the A7 chip and TouchID fingerprint scanning. It also boasts a new interface, new color palettes and other features, including parallax wallpapers and a single-swipe control panel for uses like airplane mode.
“iOS 7 is so alive with depth,” said Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering. Of iOS 7’s 200-plus new features, he ran through a new control center and notification center, a 3D tabbing interface in Safari, and an updated Siri with a higher-quality voice that can search tweets.
It also has a new camera app including built-in Instagram-like filters where photos can be grouped by moments, based on the time and location they were taken. It can also apply live photo effects while shooting.
“What’s really awesome is that on the retina display you can make out different parts of your collection and you can pick out one particular photo and bring it forward,” said Federighi. The new OS also includes AirDrop, letting users share photos with anyone on the same WiFi network.
“For some developers, this iOS change represents opportunity,” said Todd Anglin, Telerik’s executive vice president of cross-platform tools and services. “Consumers are likely to start looking for iOS 7 versions of their favorite apps, so a mini gold rush may occur as developers hope to ride the wave of interest in new iOS 7-ready apps. Some developers, who have for years been largely forced to give away iOS app updates for free, are using the major iOS 7 transition to introduce new versions of their apps that must be re-purchased. Their hope is that consumers familiar with the pre-iOS 7 version of their app will be willing to pay again for an updated iOS 7 variant.”
iOS 7 is backward-compatible with the iPhone 4 and later versions, and the iPad 2 and later versions.
Cook began today’s media event with “some exciting updates from within the company,” starting with iTunes Festival. Some 200 million people have apparently applied for tickets for the live-streamed music festival, taking place in London over 30 nights and featuring artists like Elton John, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake.
After a short video about the festival, Cook moved the event into retail. Apple has been “expanding their footprint” outside the U.S., he said, but the first big announcement of the day is a new store design, which was rolled out in Stanford, Calif.
The only other announcement was an updated iWork, with new, free versions of Keynote, Pages, Numbers, iMovie and iPhoto available for iOS 7.
“We think that iWork is a really key advantage for our customers’ productivity, and iPhoto and iMovie are great for their creativity,” said Cook. “No other platform has any apps like these. We think that all iOS devices are made even better with these apps, and almost all of our customers want these apps. So today, we’re announcing that we’re making all five of these apps free.”
The show ended with a free concert from Apple’s special musical guest: Elvis Costello.