The iPhone 5cheap Isn’t
September 11, 2013

The iPhone 5cheap Isn’t

I’ve still got some smoke emitting from my keyboard, but there were a few thoughts I had from Tuesday’s Apple Keynote.

First: The iPhone 5C isn’t cheap. Isn’t that the whole point of creating a stupid plastic phone?

In his product video, a crucial part of any Apple even, Jony Ive really leaned into the whole plastic thing and called it “unapologetically plastic.” I mean, come on, Jony. In hindsight, however, it looks as if the iPhone 5c (oh, and it’s lowercase now…we’ll get back to that in a moment) was built more to show off how colorful iOS 7 is and not so much give China, India and rural America a cheap option. With a two-year contract, the thing starts at $99. A 32 GB colorful iPhone will run you $199. This means, by the way, there are now two iPhones available for $199.

The iPhone 5 is the new nano

The colorful iPhone (I mean, how dowe speak about it in plural? iPhone 5cs just looks weird…) looks to replace the iPhone 5 altogether. In fact, Schiller even said it’s so. Apple is no longer offering the iPhone 5. Even though it was the bestselling phone for them, they’ve killed it off just like they killed the iPod nano. If you want an iPhone 5, you can either go through your carrier, hit up eBay, or buy a 5s or 5c. As far as the internals go, this cheap-not-cheap phone is pretty much an iPhone 5, almost certainly explaining the high price.

Perhaps that’s about as cheap as Apple gets? They’ll wrap it in plastic, but it’s still getting some good internals.

The camera is better in the 5c and the battery lasts longer, so overall this thing won’t be a slouch.

The iPhone 5s wants you to touch it

Then there’s the iPhone 5S, er, 5s, which is pretty much everything we expected.

There are now three colors available (Silver, Gold and new Space Gray) and each comes with a matching ring around the home button. This ring shall forever be known as Touch ID, the fingerprint scanner people have been talking about almost immediately after the iPhone 5 was released last year. This is a good thing. For starters, this allows you AND ONLY YOU to unlock your phone without typing in some almost secure password. Secondly, Apple will accept your fingerprint as a password when buying content on their online stores, very cool indeed. Thirdly, unlike the 4S, everyone will DEFINITELY know you have the latest model, especially if you buy gold. Touch ID certainly got some attention, but the biggest shocker about the 5s is the A7 chip.

Turns out that darned Clayton Morris was right; the new iPhone chip will run 64-bit applications, the first smartphone to ever do so. Schiller gave his usual song and dance, claiming the new chip is 56 times faster than other models and can smoke circles around anything else. The A7 won’t be a battery hog, though, and that’s largely thanks to a new piece of hardware inside called the M7 chip. This motion microprocessor acts as a liaison between all the motion-detecting bits in the phone (the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope) and can act upon this data without having to wake up the A7. In other words, the lower power M7 knows when you’re moving in the background without having to wake up a bunch of processes and run the 64-bit chip when you’re not even using the thing.

This mixed with iOS 7’s new energy efficiency measures could lead to some positive battery performance.

One for the “duh” files — the camera has been improved

The camera has also been improved. Now there are two flashes, each intelligent enough to take a read of the room and adjust themselves so as not to wash out human skin. Very clever.

Additionally, they’ve widened the aperture and increased the size of the pixels, meaning more detail can be captured in each one. We don’t get a 10- or 15-megapixel camera, but we do get a better camera, so that’s something. The sensor has also been improved, so there’s that.

Here’s what strikes me about the iPhone 5s….Apple isn’t offering a preorder for the phone. You can get it just like everyone else on September 20, meaning lines, lines, lines at the Apple store.

They haven’t been great about keeping phones in stock, so I hesitantly expect to see some issues keeping the damn things in stock.

That is, unless you go for the 64 GB big boy option. Apple normally has plenty of those available.

Feel free to preorder that plastic iPhone on the 13th, however. Take from that date (Friday the 13th) what you will.

What are we supposed to call it?

Finally, though I’ve already put my old iPhone 5 up for auction and have money to throw at Apple for a 5s, I predict I will also curse a little under my breath when I type out the name of this new phone.

As a tech writer, I often have to refer to devices in the plural, such as “Apple sold a crap ton of iPhone 5s.”

Ah, but what is that I just wrote? Several fifth generation iPhones?  One crap ton of sixth generation iPhone?

They did the same thing with the iPhone 5c.

C’mon Apple. You’re better than this.

Finally, iOS 7 will be available for iPhone and iPad next week, September 18th. There’s plenty about Tuesday’s announcement to get Apple fans excited, but this is the one I’m personally most ready for. iOS 7 promises to turn an aging device into a new one, and I’m ready to begin using something different. iOS 6, as we know it, is mostly the same iOS we’ve been using for three years now and it’s showing its age.

But will it be enough?

The big question now is, for some reason, is all this enough to persuade users? It’s an important question, but only to an extent. I fully believe people like me and those who don’t want to think about their technology, don’t want to take a side, are more than willing to go with Apple because it simply works. Will this persuade an Android fan? I doubt it, much in the same way that Android rarely releases anything to sway iPhone users away from iOS (Andy Ihnatko notwithstanding.)

Apple didn’t surprise us today aside from the M7 chip and 64-bit A7, but that’s ok. The rumors were lofty enough that all Apple had to do was deliver what we expected. In previous years, the iPhone rumors painted a picture of a phone that was too beautiful to live. This year the rumor cycle dreamt big and Apple delivered, and in this tense smartphone climate, I think it’s great they were able to.

Image Credit: Apple

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