Apple’s September 10th event has come and gone, and now it’s time to look back at everything that was revealed. The event saw the unveiling of the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and launch date of iOS 7. There were all kinds of rumors, product leaks, and speculation leading up to the event to give us a good idea of what to expect. It turns out that Apple met expectations to a tee, and that has resulted in some disappointment. Apple always seemed to have some type of surprise, but as they have grown there just isn’t much kept under wraps when preparing to launch new products that are manufactured by the millions in China. The result is a by the book event where we know everything that Tim Cook and Co. are going to show off.
That fact made the event relatively boring, but it’s more than that this year. The main problem is that Apple is just holding back on features to have this extended two year life cycle of new designs. It’s tough to get excited about a new iPhone that looks just like last year’s models, and the differences have to be explained rather than instantly seen. We have now seen the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5S with all three models maintaining the exterior design of the previous model. Also, all three have focuses on updates in the same area with a new processor, improved camera, and new software. The new features aren’t necessarily that remarkable when compared directly to last year’s version, but Apple is upgrading their iPhones based on two year contracts. The iPhone 5S isn’t meant for those with the iPhone, but rather those with an iPhone 4S or older iPhone, or a completely different phone.
The iPhone 5S maintains the upgrade focus with the new 64-bit A7 chip that is twice as fast as the iPhone 5 A6 chip. There’s an all new camera system that offers dual LED flash, larger pixels, increased aperture, new photo processing, slo-mo mode at 120 fps, and more. Finally, there’s the Touch ID fingerprint sensor allowing you to unlock the device, and confirm iTunes & App Store purchases with your finger. The 4S offered a similar upgrade package with the dual core A5 chip, new 8 megapixel camera, and Siri, so the 5S is very similar with just a security focus instead of Siri. The 5S is simply an enhanced version of the iPhone 5 and we know that there will be an all new design for the iPhone 6 next year. Every other year now has expected disappointment of the new iPhone because Apple is focusing on saving some features each year for the next model.
Apple even tries to explain away their methodical upgrades just as they did during today’s event saying, “We don’t just pack in feature after feature” and “It’s not just rampant technology for technology’s sake”. Both are just excuses leaving the iPhone 5S with an underwhelming feature set, which should get you to try to get your upgrade to be on the year of the iPhone 4, 5, and 6, rather than the 3GS, 4S, and 5S. The one thing Apple does have going for it is that there’s not the greatest potential in new hardware in smartphones at the moment, and software is the most important part. iOS 7 is a major change, and the inclusion of Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iPhoto, and iMovie for free with new devices is a subtle, but major move. The iPhone 5S was also another instance of introducing a new feature that is watered down, and just waiting to be tapped in, and this time it’s the fingerprint sensor. It’s a deluxe piece of hardware, but has very minimal practical applications of just unlocking the device, and confirming iTunes & App Store purchases. The iPhone 6 will feature the fingerprint sensor as well as the A8 chip and a new camera, and Apple will likely have greater use for the fingerprint scanner by next September. This knowledge makes this event even more disappointing.
The iPhone 5S wasn’t the only thing Apple showed, as they also unveiled the iPhone 5C. The 5C was universally acknowledged as a new low cost option, but when the actual event comes that isn’t the case. Apple essentially repackaged the iPhone 5 in new colors and gave it a new name, but without any lower cost. Apple usually makes the previous generation $100 cheaper, as with the iPhone 5 launch for $199 when the 4S dropped to $99, and the 4 dropped to free. This year, Apple could have done the same thing with the 5S at $199, 5 at $99, and 4S at $99. That is essentially what they did, but they call the iPhone 5 the 5C, and it’s $99. The off contract price was supposed to be especially low, but the 16GB unlocked iPhone 5C is $549, which is just $100 cheaper than the unlocked 5S for $649. The 5C has no extra benefit, and it’s amazing that Apple is trying to position it as a new iPhone that doesn’t hit any of the hoped for targets of a lower cost iPhone.
The 2013 Apple event was just what we expected, and was a definite disappointment just in comparison to the iPhones Apple already offers. With that said the iPhone 5S & 5C will still sell millions, though the 5S is going to face a tough time going against the colorful iPhone 5C.