CUPERTINO (California) — Apple launched two new models for its iPhone line yesterday (this morning, Singapore time), the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, and both models will be available in Singapore from Sept 20.
After numerous rumours and leaked images weeks before its official introduction, Apple debuted the iPhone 5c — a model that signifies its entry to the lower end of the smartphone market.
The iPhone 5c comes in five colours and features the same specifications and horsepower as the the iPhone 5, the device’s most recent predecessor. The smartphone also does not depart from the 4-inch display from the previous model, and the key difference is that the 5c comes in a polycarbonate body reinforced by a steel frame. Apple marketing vice president Phil Schiller called the 5c “unapologetically plastic” as he unveiled it.
Without a contracted subscription plan, pricing for the LTE-based iPhone 5c starts at S$848 for the 16GB model — S$140 less than the starting price of the new iPhone 5s' 16GB model. Apple and local telcos like SingTel, M1 or StarHub have not unveiled the subsidised pricing for the iPhone in Singapore yet. In the United States, Apple will offer the phone for as little as US$99 (S$130), with a mobile subscription plan from a mobile carrier. Pre-orders for the iPhone 5c will start in Singapore on Sept 13.
THE 5s: FASTER, FITNESS- AND FINGERPRINT-FRIENDLY
Alongside the 5c, Apple also announced the 5s — a souped-up version of the iPhone 5 that mostly includes improvements under the hood, such as a new 64-bit A7 processor.
Apple claims that the new processor that powers the phone runs twice as fast as the A6 processor, but developers will need to tweak their apps to take full advantage of the processor. The smartphone also features a new dedicated motion processor called the M7 that enables the device to track motion more sophisticatedly. Apple hopes the M7 will be employed by more health and fitness apps that track activity by using movement sensors on a phone. The company mentioned that Nike was already working on an app that makes use of the processor.
Apart from a slightly different colour scheme (which includes a distinct new “gold” model), the biggest change to the iPhone 5s is the addition of a fingerprint scanner on the physical button located below its display. Instead of typing a password or code to unlock their devices, users can simply place their finger on the button to bypass the phone’s lock screen or to approve purchases on Apple’s iTunes store. Third-party apps do not have access to the fingerprint scanner yet, according to Apple.
Pricing for the iPhone 5s starts at S$988 for the base 16GB model, without contract. No pre-order dates have been announced for the iPhone 5s.
ANALYSTS AND CONSUMER REACTIONS
Apple bills the iPhone 5s as “the most forward-thinking smartphone” and it is sticking to its guns, eschewing larger screens despite its popularity among consumers and focusing on a tightly-controlled and refined user experience - instead of the kitchen-sink approach to features that its competitors are employing and the appeal of such devices to consumers.
“It doesn’t appeal to me because they (Apple) didn’t really do anything to up their game. It’s pretty much just two new features - no change to the form factor, to the screen. Even design-wise it’s just two new colours. iOS 7 is also ugly. I want a bigger screen, a faster processor and a sharper display,” explained Eileen Kang, 24, a business associate who currently owns an Android-based Sony Xperia Z smartphone.
The company might still have a fighting chance, according to Shalini Verma, a principal analyst from research firm Gartner: “Apple has definitely struggled to push its devices in market segments that demand a larger screen size. Yet, the screen size will not be the only criteria for the success of devices going forward.”
Muzammil Peer, 33, an educator who switched to the Android-based Samsung Galaxy S4 has decided to return to the Apple-fold: “I was enticed by the larger screen … despite the superior specifications, the user experience on the S4 was poor. Apps crashed and it was laggy.”
“Consumer tastes are in a constant state of flux,” Verma explained. “Singapore is no different. We will soon see other form factors that consumers will be happy to try out. I think consumers will carry a number of devices - some wearable, some pocketable and some portable.”
Indeed, there were no updates from Apple on wearable computing - technology’s latest hip trend, thanks to Google Glass and Samsung’s newly-launched Galaxy Gear smartwatch. However, the new dedicated motion sensor on the iPhone 5s could be a hint at things to come from a wearable device it might be working on.
Despite being late to emerging markets, Apple is working on growing its share of the lower-end of the market with the iPhone 5c, said Verma: “With smartphone markets in mature countries reaching saturation point, Apple needs to pursue consumers it was not keen to go after in the past . This compulsion is really driven by its needs to maintain growth.”
iOS7 TO DEBUT SEPT 18
Apple unveiled the new phones at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. On top of its hardware announcements, the smartphone and computer maker will be launching iOS 7, the new version of its mobile operating system, on Sept 18 and will be making its iOS productivity and photo and video editing apps free for customers who purchase its new iOS-based devices.
Local telcos SingTel, M1 and StarHub have announced that they have started accepting pre-registrations for the new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c at http://www.singtel.com/iphoneroi, www.starhub.com/iphone and www.m1.com.sg/iphonereg, and will start offering the new iPhones on Sept 20.
|Model||Price (without contract)|
|iPhone 5c 16GB||S$848|
|iPhone 5c 32GB||S$988|
|iPhone 5s 16GB||S$988|
|iPhone 5s 32GB||S$1,148|
|iPhone 5s 64GB||S$1,288|