To the surprise of absolutely no one, Apple announced two new iPhones at their big event today. As expected, the two new devices are the colorful iPhone 5C and The bigger faster pricier iPhone 5S.
I’ve got specs, pricing, and launch date details, as well as what I think about today’s announcements, after the jump. >>>
Taking the stage today at its Cupertino campus this morning were Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, and other Apple execs. Of course, the new iPhones are why everyone tuned into this event, but there were other announcements as well.
In addition to the new iPhones, There were a few surprises in today’s Apple event. Apple announced iTunes Radio. A really bitchin upgrade to the iWork suite of apps was announced as well. And these apps will be free for many iOS 7 users. I wasn’t expecting that in today’s event and that’s a pretty big surprise.
Apple also give us a better more in-depth look at the upcoming iOS 7 update. More on that later in this post.
iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S
Apple announced two new iPhones today. The iPhone 5C is pretty much as we expected. Its specs are comparable to the current iPhone 5. It’s got the same A6 chip as the current iPhone 5.
The current iPhone 5 is an excellent device and the iPhone 5C promises to continue that performance and reliability. It’s basically an iPhone 5 with a new, colorful plastic case and a few other improvements.
For iPhoneographers, it has the same 8 MP camera and five-element lens that’s in the current iPhone 5 devices.
The crown jewel of today’s announcement is the new iPhone 5S. The iPhone 5S has the same look and size of the current iPhone 5 with a few exceptions. It now comes in silver, gold, and “Space Gray”. The white iPhone 5 is no more. There’s a ring around the new iPhone Home button, part of the device’s new biometric security feature.
There are a lot of surprises in this update to Apple’s popular iPhone 5 series handset. Not all of them are going to be well received by the press and iPhoneographers.
The iPhone 5S without a doubt is an amazing device. The hardware architecture got a major overhaul in this device and that affects the performance of the phone and everything it does, including the camera.
The iPhone 5S is by far the fastest iPhone to date. In fact, it’s exponentially faster than even the iPhone 5 which is an amazingly fast handset.
The iPhone 5S has a new A7 processor that can run in both 64-bit and 32-bit modes. What does this mean? The new iPhone 5S should be up to 5X faster than the current iPhone 5. Apps that are CPU intensive, such as photo apps, will fly. In photo apps That take advantage of the 64-bit architecture, rendering an processing times should be dramatically shorter.
Apple also introduced OpenGL 3.0, a significant update to the iPhone’s graphics rendering engine. I need to crack the white paper to get the specs on this, but again, any apps including photo apps that use OpenGL 3.0 to process Will see a dramatic increase in image realism and quality and a significant decrease in the amount of time it takes to process those graphics. Photo apps like LensLight and LensFlare use opens you currently use OpenGL to process the effects.
On paper, the camera on the iPhone 5S is actually a significant improvement.
Because of the new faster chip, many of the camera’s functions perform better and faster, including an auto-focus that’s up to 2X faster than the iPhone 5.
The new iPhone 5S camera features auto image stabilization. It works by taking four photos with a short exposure time. Then the best parts of those photos are combined into one image with as little noise, subject motion, and hand shake as possible. Basically, this is the same principle that photo apps ClearCam and Cortex Camera use to capture clear, sharp images, except this is now incorporated at the system level on a very fast device.
The iPhone 5S has an improved camera sensor with pixels that are 15% larger than the ones currently in the iPhone 5. Larger pixels mean greater light sensitivity and hopefully this translates into greater dynamic range and the ability to preserve greater detail in both shadows and highlights.
The optics of the camera are improved as well. The new aperture — the opening in the lens that lets the light in — has been increased to f2.2, up from f2.4 on the current iPhone 5 camera. That’s a modest improvement that should improve the cameras performance not only in low light situations, but in situations that require a faster shutter speed. In theory, both shooting situations should yield clearer, sharper results with an iPhone 5 S camera. It all adds up to up to 33% greater light sensitivity than the iPhone 5.
The flash on the iPhone 5S is improved. There are now two high-intensity LEDs — one white and the other an amber color. The combination can be adjusted to optimize the color temperature of the light to get more natural-looking, less blown out results when flash is used. Users can adjust the flash color temperature in Apple’s new Camera app in iOS 7.
The resolution of the iPhone 5 S is still 8 MP and not the 12 or 13 megapixels that many pundits and users were anticipating. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ll explain why.
A pretty exhaustive list of the specs and features of the new iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S is already posted to the Apple website.
Apple has also posted a gallery with a variety of photos shot with an iPhone 5S.
The Release of iOS 7
Apple announced that iOS 7 will be released on September 18. It will be a free download. It will work on most of the devices in operation today including the iPhone 4 and newer.
In addition to the new, flatter user interface, iOS 7 has been completely reengineered to run in the 64-bit architecture of the new iPhone 5S. That means zoom, despite all the great new features of the OS.
iOS 7 Camera now has eight built-in filters and a square shooting mode. A nod to the influence Instagram has had on the popularity of iPhoneography. The camera also has two new shooting modes — a burst mode and slow motion video mode.
One of our panelists today, Devin Pike, has hands-on experience with iOS 7 throughout the beta process. He tells us that many of the improvements in the iPhone’s camera are how the software and the new operating system interact with the hardware. Together, iOS 7 and the new iPhone 5S should be a noticeably improved shooting experience.
The Bottom Line
The iPhone 5 S? Oh yeah, I’m going to get one right away. PANTONE Space Gray, please.
I was delighted by the iPhone 5. It’s noticeably faster than my iPhone 4S. Often there’s no lag that I would experience an older devices. It’s a great iPhone.
With the new 64-bit architecture, the iPhone 5S has the potential to be exponentially faster than the iPhone 5. That gets me excited about the device.
Once developers take advantage of the internal throughput of the 64-bit architecture, the potential is there for apps to move at “the speed of thought.” Rather than performing a task and waiting, even the minimal wait of an iPhone 5, processes will move much faster and apps will feel feel more like an extension of you than a tool that you have to wait on.
I have to admit that I was disappointed when I found out that the iPhone still had an eight megapixel camera. In looking at the specs of the new camera, I realize that Apple chose quality over megapixels and I think they made the right choice.
The new camera will have a greater dynamic range, reproduce light and dark better, and reproduce colors more naturally and accurately than the current camera in the iPhone 5 (and 5C). Larger pixels on the sensor has been something that photographers have been requesting since the 8 MP camera of the 4S. Better photos instead of larger photos. It looks like Apple has delivered.
Despite the marketing hype over 12 MP cameras or even 41 megapixel cameras, 8 MP is plenty for an image. You can still blow up an 8 MP image to poster size. With 12 MP, you can shoot a billboard. With less than one megapixel, you can upload your photograph to Instagram and that’s where most of the action is for mobile photography.
If I had to choose between an 8 MP camera that created beautiful, lush, bright, outstanding photographs or 12 MP camera that took flat, dull, okay pictures, I’d go with the camera that gives me the best photograph in-camera to start with. I think Apple made the right choice. It’s a choice that Steve Jobs would’ve made and in fact it was the choice that he made years ago with the iPhone 4 camera.
At least I’m hoping that’s what Apple did. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these in a few weeks.
Did you catch today’s Apple Event? What do you think of the new iPhones? Sound off in the comments below.
Pricing and Release dates for US customers:
There’s all you need to know online at The Apple Store.
Buy iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c at the Apple Retail Store starting September 20. Pre-order iPhone 5c starting September 13. Order iPhone 5s starting September 20.
Available in three finishes and three sizes
16GB – from $199
32GB – from $299
64GB – from $399
Available in five colors and two sizes
16GB – from $99
32GB – from $199
It looks like you can preorder an iPhone 5C for September 20 delivery, an option I highly recommend. But it looks like if you want an iPhone 5S on day one, you’ll have to wait in line at an Apple Store or mobile retailer to purchase it that day. You can order a 5S on September 20 for later delivery.
UPDATE 09.11.13: Corrected available colors of iPhone 5S.