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Apple Unveils the Golden iPhone and the World’s First 64-Bit Smartphone Processor

by Kevin Marshall   September 12, 2013 at 12:00AM  |  Views: 2,380
Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple made a compelling case for its continued dominance of the global dominance with their latest keynote, unveiling the new iOS 7 mobile platform and two new iPhone models.

The first of the new iPhone models showcased was the iPhone 5C, which Apple CEO Tim Cook immediately announced would supplant the now discontinued iPhone 5. Most of the focus for the 5C was on aesthetics, with the "C" ostensibly standing for "Color." Two new designs were unveiled in five color options – green, white, blue, pink, and yellow. The phones shown during the presentation were slicker and sleeker than its predecessors, eliminating seams, part lines, and joints, with its entire back and sides made from one continuous, single component.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

New features weren't in abundance, but the new phone does boast a slightly larger battery and a new Facetime HD camera. Customers signing a two-year agreement with a phone carrier will be able to pick up the iPhone 5C for $99 (16 GB) or $199 (32 GB). Apple also pushed its $29 custom cases for the 5C, made from a "soft-feel silicon cover." Seven rows of circles are cut out of the back of the cases, which make them look more like the old Connect 4 game set than a protective shell for a smartphone.

After running through the specs of the "beautifully, unapologetically plastic" 5C, Apple trotted out its other new iPhone model. The iPhone 5S was unveiled with a video that showed its very creation, complete with gold smelting. Yes, the 5S is literally the company's Golden Smartphone. It's also available in silver or the conspicuous and mysterious "new space gray."

Source: Getty Images

The iPhone 5S is visually striking, but the real difference maker lies underneath its casing of precious metals. The 5S marks the introduction of the new A7 processor, the world's first ever 64-bit smartphone processing chip. According to Apple, the A7 is twice as fast as the A6, multiplies the CPU's processing capabilities by a factor of 50, and displays graphics 56 times faster. Improved motion detection capability will allow the phone to ascertain if a user is standing still, walking, running, or inside a moving vehicle.

The increase in the smartphone's horsepower obviously necessitated increased battery life, which allows for 10 hours of 3G talk time and/or LTE browsing, with 250 hours of standby power available. Image capture has been greatly enhanced with the 5S as well, with the rear camera allowing for a 15% larger active area. Also bigger: the pixels, providing clearer images at 1.5 microns.

The more practical improvements come with the camera's new Burst Mode, which takes multiple snaps for a picture and automatically selects the best option for you. The new camera will also include 28-megapixel panorama and Slo-Mo video capability, with 720p HD video at 120 frames per second.

iPhone security was turned on its head with the announcement of Touch ID sub-epidermal scanning. Rather than prompting for a four digit code, the 5S will read the user's fingerprint to unlock the screen. Another plus: the scanner is built into the Home button rather than the screen itself. Touch ID can also be used for app authentication, including making purchases on iTunes and the App Store. Addressing concerns over privacy and data collection, Apple made it a point to emphasize that the fingerprint would only be stored on each specific device, and would not be transferrable across other mobile devices or uploaded to the cloud.

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Naturally, the iPhone 5S comes with a slightly heftier price tag: $199 at 16 GB, $299 at 32 GB, and $399 at 64 GB with the requisite two-year contract. The iPhone 4S, in the meantime, will now only be offered at 8GB, for free, with a new two-year agreement. Pre-orders for the iPhone 5C and 5S begin on September 13th, with the phones hitting shelves on the 20th.

Apple also announced the release of iOS 7 on September 18th for the iPhone (from 4 onward), the iPad (2 onward), the iPad Mini, and the iPod Touch (5 onward). One of the new features shown at the presentation was AirDrop, which will allow consumers to share media over P2P wi-fi with other nearby Apple users. Also making its debut with iOS 7: iTunes Radio, Apple's answer to Pandora complete with personalized stations.

Of course, the presentation was as much about extoling the virtues and successes of Apple as it was about unveiling new products. A litany of charts and graphs propounded Apple's continued dominance of the mobile market. It was noted several times, bordering ad nauseum, that Apple would ship its 700th iOS device by the end of the calendar month. While it may seem boisterous, it could also be seen as pragmatically necessary as competitors like Samsung continue to carve out larger chunks of the market, particularly overseas.

Apple opted not to live stream the event as it had with other recent keynotes, but it still treated it like a rock concert for techies. It even closed with Elvis Costello performing "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding" underneath the company's grey minimalistic logo. One has to wonder if it was a simple celebrity endorsement or a statement to its competitors that, like Costello, they weren't going anywhere anytime soon.