After much speculation (and equal fervour), Apple has finally unveiled its latest flagship – the iPhone 5s.
So, what’s the big difference this time? You could sum it up by saying it’s faster, it has a better camera and it now comes in GOLD!
But that would be just a little too reductive. Here’s the headlines –
- a snappy new 64-bit A7 chip.
- a 4″ Retina display.
- an overhauled operating system with iOS7 and redesigned apps to match.
- a new 8 megapixel camera with slow-motion video and burst-mode.
- a fingerprint-recognition system for unlocking.
- a slew of software refinements including background updates, Airdrop, control centre etc.
As is tradition since the iPhone 3Gs, the s moniker indicates that this is a refinement rather than the next major upgrade of Apple’s stable. Not that you’d know if you witnessed the level of buzz in recent months, with rumours and supposed ‘leaks’ running rampant right up until launch. In fact, most of the key points of the iPhone 5s had been revealed in advance.
Interestingly, that did nothing to dampen the spirits of millions of eager tech-watchers waiting to see what Apple would reveal, with the launch making headlines around the world and trending across Twitter et al as usual.
Whilst Apple may be outgunned in terms of smartphone sales by Samsung, no other manufacturer has quite been able to match Apple’s enigmatic launches. They remain a focal tech event like no other. Equally, the Apple App Store ecosystem is unequalled in breadth or revenue.
But pressure is mounting, this iPhone event didn’t bring the boost the market expected, with Apple stocks falling 3% upon the reveal of the new handsets. Also, Apple’s much-vaunted statistic that its devices lead mobile internet usage took a hit only days ago when analytics tracking firm Statcounter revealed figures which suggest Samsung devices are now the global leader in mobile web usage. Why? Emerging markets like China, Brazil and India don’t mix well with Apple’s expensive premium iPhone.
Hence the launch of the iPhone 5c, a cheap and colourful alternative to the iPhone 5s wrapped in bright playful plastic aimed squarely at the lower end of the market, a price point Apple has, to date, steered clear of; allowing Android handsets free reign to seize the market and help cement their lead in worldwide mobile OS usage.
The launch of a budget model signifies a critical shift for Apple, an acknowledgement that high-quality alone just isn’t enough in an increasingly competitive market. Samsung’s stellar rise and the challenges that has placed on Apple has forced a widening of options.
If the iPhone 5s is the perfection they strive for, the iPhone 5c is a compromise.
Something Apple are not exactly renowned for and, perhaps, a sign of the times ahead.