It's Christmas in Cupertino — at Apple's Town Hall Auditorium, to be precise — where the company has just rolled out the refreshed line of iPhones. These September events have become something of an annual ritual, with the Apple faithful tuning in en masse on the Web to see what CEO Tim Cook, designer Jonathan Ive, and the rest of tech's best and brightest have to offer. This year, new hardware was just beginning.
The upgraded flagship model, dubbed the iPhone 5S, sports a 64-bit A7 processor (according to Apple, it's the first and only 64-bit processor in a mobile phone), fingerprint sensor (bye bye passwords), and an updated camera system. Apple exec Phil Schiller called it, "The most forward-thinking phone we've ever created." One awesome new feature: the M7, a new co-processor dedicated to recording movement that Schiller said would provide, "A whole new level of health and fitness solutions never before seen in a phone."
Also unveiled was the iPhone 5S' baby brother: the 5C. The 5C lacks the more advanced processors and camera of the 5S, but does come in multiple colors and for a reduced price, which is sure to delight smartphone buyers that have eschewed Apple's more-expensive offerings in favor of cheaper phones made by competitors like Samsung.
For my money, the biggest addition to Apple's iPhone platform is actually the software. iOS7, as it's called, will be released on Sept. 18 for both the iPhone and the iPad, and Apple touts it as "like getting a whole new device." One look at the Jony Ive-designed "flat" interface and you're likely to agree. iOS7 is definitely a looker, with the colorful-yet-modern design giving the iPhone a fresh and long-overdue new look.
Another big plus for those who buy one of the new iPhones: five proprietary Apple apps — Keynote, Pages, Numbers (the iWork suite), iPhoto and iMovie — are now free with the purchase of any iOS device.
The iPhone 5C will start at $99 for 16GB and $199 32GB versions. The iPhone 5S comes in three packages, $199 for 16 GB, $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64 GB with a 2-year contract. (The iPhone 4S will still be available in an 8 GB configuration available for free with a two-year contract.)
Pre-orders for 5C start Sept. 13, with both new iPhone models available Sept. 20 — if you can find them. Happy hunting.