Wait, two? Yup, two. The iPhone 5 has been discontinued, and split into two phones. Usually, Apple keep their older devices on for two generations, selling them cheaper.
A week ago, you could buy an iPhone 5 on the high end, the iPhone 4S, or the iPhone 4 on the low end. Now, you can buy the iPhone 5S on the high end, then the iPhone 5C in the middle, and the iPhone 4S. Confusing huh!
That C isn't for cheap. It's for colour! Instead of just making the iPhone 5 cheaper, Apple have built a new, cheaper version of the 5 - my guess is they couldn't manufacture the laser-cut aluminium of the 5 any cheaper without cutting too far into their profits.
The 5C is cheaper on the outside - it's made of plastic - but it's essentially the same on the inside, with a slightly larger battery. It won't feel as good in your hand as the 5 or the 5S, but it'll be a decent phone on the inside. Plus, the plastic lets them offer it in a range of bright colours, which you will either love or hate.
Many of us had predicted that the 5C would be the "cheap" option, replacing the 4S on the lineup at Apple's lowest price point, and maybe costing even less. A colourful outer layer and a more affordable price would make the iPhone much more appealing in emerging markets like China and India, where Apple has room to grow. We were wrong. While the 5C is a cheaper phone - it's cheaper than the 5S - it's still more expensive than the 4S. It's just a cheaper iPhone 5 that is new.
The iPhone 5S is the "tock" of the iterative iPhone design cycle. They change the iPhone seriously every two years, and update it a bit with an "S" release every other year. As such, the iPhone 5S doesn't look much different to the iPhone 5, other than a gold colour option (it's less tacky than it sounds) and a radically redesigned home button.
That home button is the biggest change for the 5S. It can read your fingerprint, quite well apparently, and use it to unlock your phone and authorise iTunes or App Store purchases.
The idea is that we should all be making our phones more secure - but most of us don't want to waste two seconds typing in a passcode every time we want to use our phone. Fingerprint data is only stored locally on the device, so privacy activists shouldn't have too much to worry about either.
Other than the new home button, most of the changes remain inside. The processor has been upgraded to a 64-bit chip, a first for mobile. This should make everything run a little faster, and gives app developers much more room to play around with. This new processor should also help deal with the bevy of new options on the slightly upgraded camera, from slow-motion video to 10 frames-per-second burst mode.
The camera itself is a little bit faster, ie better in low light, and the flash has been completely upgraded. All up, it will feel a bit speedier than the 5, but not blisteringly fast or anything.
SO, HOW MUCH?
At the time of writing, Apple hasn't released any prices for New Zealand, or even a release date, but we should be part of the second wave on October 10.
Industry chatter and a comparison with overseas prices put the price for an off-contract 16GB iPhone 5S at around $1029, with the 16GB iPhone 5C nearer to $799. Of course, if you want to sell your soul to Vodafone or Telecom on a two-year contract, you'll be able to get the phones themselves for a fair bit cheaper. That is, of course, up to you.
- © Fairfax NZ News